2011 Winter Fiction Panel discussion

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Wednesday: Process

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message 1: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 11 comments Mod
In every author group we host on Goodreads, there are always questions about writing process. This one will be no different. What is your writing process? Do you write every day, no matter what, or do you have another schedule you try to keep? Is there a different process for working on short stories than novels? Do you outline?

Fellow members, feel free to ask specific question about process in this thread.


message 2: by Mary (last edited Feb 09, 2011 10:19AM) (new)

Mary (glickman) | 16 comments I do try to write everyday unless I've just finished a new novel when a little breather is necessary to recharge. That's when I tend to get caught up on my reading, as reading novels can be disastrous when I'm working on one of my own. Typically, I like to start early in the morning, after I've fed the cat and gone through my email and the papers online. I'll work a few hours and then the pressures of domestic life will kick in for a while. In the late afternoons and evenings, I like to return to work if I can. Sometimes, if I'm really on a roll, I go on for days in a fever and I can't stop. But that doesn't happen too often. Another thing, I should say, though. I don't mind interruptions while I'm working. If a friend phones and needs to chat, I chat. If the doorbell rings, I answer it. If the family needs help, I'm there. I never thought my writing should be a sacred sacrament enveloping me in entitlement. It's work like anyother kind of work. And people come first. Oh. And I never outline. Doesn't help me. I'm sort of envious of those that do and go into a piece with a plan. All outlining does for me is make my palms sweat.


message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary (glickman) | 16 comments Paatrick, I'm still not getting updates here. Have to remember to log on and see what's up. ??? I think Lisa may be having the same problem as we both posted yesterday in the wrong spot, I noticed!


message 4: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 11 comments Mod
Mary wrote: "Paatrick, I'm still not getting updates here. Have to remember to log on and see what's up. ??? I think Lisa may be having the same problem as we both posted yesterday in the wrong spot, I noticed!"

You won't get an email when I start a new topic. You just have to check the group homepage for that.


message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Alther | 12 comments I don't write every day. I use the binge method, locking myself up for a couple of weeks whenever I get the urge and can make the time, doing nothing but writing, eating, and sleeping. This works well for me because once I get concentrated, I can get a lot more accomplished than I do when I have to keep making and breaking my train of thought.
I do lots of research, take notes, make outlines. Then when I get ready to write, I throw them all away and wing it. I think all that preparation gives me the confidence to make things up, knowing what is and isn't plausible for my imaginary situations.
Mary, it appears you and I work in opposite ways, but we both end up with completed manuscripts. So I guess what's important is for each writer to find out what method works best for her.


message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary (glickman) | 16 comments That is the important thing. There are as many ways of writing as there are of loving. Wouldn't have it any other way.


message 7: by Susan Minot (new)

Susan Minot Minot (susan_minot) | 5 comments I'm a little late here, sorry.
I write five days a week for the most part. And I try to do nothing but write from 8 or 9 till 1 or 2, but this is an illusion and things interrupt me a lot. When I am not interrupted I can get something done. Sometimes I can write with activity around me, sometimes I prefer to be in a isolated quiet place. I write at a table mostly, but always have a notebook and therefore write at sea, in the air, and on the road....I like making outlines, but they are sort of a procrastinating activity, at best an organizing one which evolve as the book evolves. I rewrite endlessly and it's gotten worse as time goes by. This may explain why I have not published a book in eight years. I am working on one...endlessly. (SM)


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan Straight | 6 comments I'm way beyond late, and really sorry! I've hosted Writers Week for the past two days at the university where I teach, so I've heard some great writers, but been gone until late each night. And also my daughter was in a high school science fair. Yikes.

So that's why I have to write whenever I can, every spare moment, and especially longhand on legal pads in my car. I wrote yesterday during the hour between readers, having gone to the parking lot to turn on the radio and write. I leave work at 2 and drove to the river, park and write for an hour before picking up my daughter. And I fill up those legal pads, but like Susan M, I I do like making outlines. And also, I distract myself from novels with essays, which I love to write, but which are not always a good thing to spend time on when I should be just concentrating on a novel.
Like Lisa, I love to do research, especially on Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans for my last two books.
And like Mary, I know the interruptions are part of life. But I will admit to being close to crazy sometimes when I'm writing and someone knocks on the door. Again.
When I do get an entire day, or night, I try to write on the computer or move the pages from the legal pad to the screen.
And yes - it takes years.


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