The Edgar Awards Panel discussion

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Writing Process

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message 1: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 5 comments Mod
Describe a typical day spent writing? Do you have a routine you try to stick to? How much of your day is spent on research and how much on actual writing? Do you work from an outline?


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith | 10 comments Some writers research first and then write; others say they write the plot through and then research where necessary afterwards. Which do you do?


message 3: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Block | 11 comments I'm not sure what a typical day is, or if I've ever had one. What usually happens is something like this: I get up, I make a cup of coffee, I sit down at my desk and log onto the internet. Deal with email and Facebook and Twitter and, yes, Goodreads. Check the NY Times online, read the obits and a couple of the columnists.

If I've got a book in progress, I'll put in some time trying to make it get longer, and interrupting myself from time to time to check email etc. and deal with things.


message 4: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Block | 11 comments Keith wrote: "Some writers research first and then write; others say they write the plot through and then research where necessary afterwards. Which do you do?"

Whatever works. My books aren't research-driven, so it's not a major factor. Google and Wikipedia do make it easy to find out what you need to know without leaving your desk.


message 5: by Keith (last edited Apr 23, 2012 12:58AM) (new)

Keith | 10 comments Lawrence wrote: "Keith wrote: "Some writers research first and then write; others say they write the plot through and then research where necessary afterwards. Which do you do?"

Whatever works. My books aren't res..."


Thanks for the reply. I thought that might be the case for you ... you just need an encyclopedic knowledge of the bars (past and present) in New York, for Scudder ... ;-) Oh, and philately for the Hitman books, I guess.


message 6: by David (new)

David (DavidJerk) I find a lot of information on the writing process, but I rarely see anything about software. I imagine it's just personal preference. Do you use a basic text editor, such as Microsoft Word, or something else?


message 7: by David (new)

David Housewright | 14 comments Lawrence wrote: "I'm not sure what a typical day is, or if I've ever had one. What usually happens is something like this: I get up, I make a cup of coffee, I sit down at my desk and log onto the internet. Deal wit..."

I tend to write when my spirit moves me and when I'm starting a novel, working on outlines, whatever, I sometimes barely get a nudge. Toward the end, though, I find myself starting at 8 AM, finishing at 8 PM and wondering why no one has fed me.


message 8: by David (new)

David Housewright | 14 comments Lawrence wrote: "Keith wrote: "Some writers research first and then write; others say they write the plot through and then research where necessary afterwards. Which do you do?"

Whatever works. My books aren't res..."


My books are not research-driven, either. My loose, informal outlines generally tells me what I need to know and where to put it and I usually do the research before I get there, but not always.


message 9: by Keith (new)

Keith | 10 comments Elizabeth George, in her book on writing, 'Write Away', says that after planning, she writes the book in dialogue only - by which I guess she means the dialogue for each chapter, without all the linking descriptions.

Have you ever been tempted to write in a different way? All dialogue, all description, bullet-point the events, etc? Just to find an 'easier' way to do it? Or do you write now the way you've always written?


message 10: by James (new)

James Grady | 17 comments Writers LONG for typical days! If I'm lucky, I read the papers, do Tai chi and take my wife to the gym where I might swim, come home and carry a cup of coffee upstairs to the loft, try to avoid e-mail & Facebook, and if I'm lucky, fall into a flow of characters & plot. I love both the writing and re-writing. Some minor research or other work gets troweled into non writing time (and there's lunch, more coffee), but I'm usually done and headed down by 6:00.


message 11: by David (new)

David Housewright | 14 comments Keith wrote: "Elizabeth George, in her book on writing, 'Write Away', says that after planning, she writes the book in dialogue only - by which I guess she means the dialogue for each chapter, without all the li..."

I've experimented with all-dialopgue short stories, but nothing much came of it. the great James M. Cain wrote some wonderful stories using nothing but dialogue - no, exposition, no he said-she said.


message 12: by David (new)

David Housewright | 14 comments James wrote: "Writers LONG for typical days! If I'm lucky, I read the papers, do Tai chi and take my wife to the gym where I might swim, come home and carry a cup of coffee upstairs to the loft, try to avoid e-..."

Besides, golf doesn't play itself.


message 13: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Klavan | 8 comments I work a long day. 7AM till 10PM at least. Not all writing, of course. Lots of research and some very challenging games of paperclip basketball. But the work basically consumes me. It always has. I love doing it and don't know what to do when I'm not doing it. Once a week I try to take a day off. But if my wife doesn't find some way to entertain me (which she usually does), I sit absolutely still until work begins again. Okay, not really. But close.


message 14: by Keith (new)

Keith | 10 comments "Besides, golf doesn't play itself."

... though sometimes the ball does seem to have a mind of its own ...


message 15: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Wambaugh (Joseph_Wambaugh) | 17 comments Patrick wrote: "Describe a typical day spent writing? Do you have a routine you try to stick to? How much of your day is spent on research and how much on actual writing? Do you work from an outline?"

Yes, I have a definite routine of writing every day, frantically trying to get a first draft on my desk before thinking of rewrites. I'm like a movie director who is a wreck doing the shoot, but loves the editing process when all of the actors, grips, gaffers, teamsters, producers, et al, are long gone. For me, the rewriting is the editing process when I'm not so frazzled.



message 16: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Wambaugh (Joseph_Wambaugh) | 17 comments Keith wrote: "Some writers research first and then write; others say they write the plot through and then research where necessary afterwards. Which do you do?"

I must have all the research done or I would not know how to begin.



message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan Dunlap | 10 comments My typical day should be a warning to new writers: Don't try this at home! I start by standing over the floor heater with a cup of coffee and the sports section. Then I go to the gym, or walk with friends, maybe go to lunch. Then, around two I begin to think about work. I think; play solitaire, think, solitaire . . . till four--surprisingly 4:00 on the button--when I actually begin writing. Which makes for a long day and very long night.


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