Friday, December 09, 2016

The Best Worst Time

I began writing a new mystery Wednesday. The timing was absolutely horrible. I'm always stressed during the Christmas season. There is too much to do, too many decisions to make, and since I'm extremely introverted, way too many places to go. I'm very quickly worn to a frazzle.

I began this book at this dreadful time on purpose. Yes. Deliberately chose the worst possible day in a year that hasn't been all that hot. I even wrote my ideal quota of five pages. In longhand, yet.

Fractured Families will come out in March and I would love to have the first draft of my next book done before that time.

But really now. Beginning a book right during the Christmas season? Why would I make such a peculiar move? Because one of the most important things a novelist has to learn to do is to get over regarding writing as more precious and mysterious than other kinds of work.

We are on the same plane as everyone else in the world. We do not exist at a higher elevation. Nurses, teachers, mathematicians, musicians, fast food workers, clerks, bankers, truck drivers get up every morning and go to work.

There's a downhill slope from regarding writing as very special undertaking to then seeing oneself as a special person. From that comes the sense that the world should accommodate your talent and leave a box lunch at your doorstep every noon.

Ain't going to happen. I started writing when my daughters were young and I used a quota system for a book. Five pages a day, five days a week. I've strayed from that many, many times, but it still works the best. I trained myself to write anywhere under any circumstances. One of the bonuses of the quota was that I became much more realistic about time. Since I'm a morning person, I began scheduling appointments in the afternoon.

There were and still are days when it's nearly impossible to work in writing. And looking back to the time when I was quite rigid about the quota and wrote just pure D crap on these very horrible days, when I reread the material the next day I was always, ALWAYS surprised.

The pages I had created were as good or as bad as the drivel I usually turned out.


Eileen Goudge said...

I adhere to the same worth ethic, Charlotte. It's a job, people, not sitting around waiting for divine inspiration! I love what Stephen King calls it in his superb "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft": The boys in the basement. I'd wish you luck on finishing your WIP, but sounds like you don't need it.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Hi Eileen. Love the term "worth ethic." And also love that Stephen King book. As to luck with the new book, I'm still trying to climb out from election depression.

Donis Casey said...

I try to write SOMETHING every day. I don't set myself a quota, though, which perhaps I should. Sometimes I'm grateful just to get out a paragraph or two.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Donis, I don't write on weekends. I probably should. Shorter like your one paragraph would make it a lot harder to totally wimp out.