“Every Day I Write The Book” by Elvis Costello (NaNoWriMo Song of the Week, 1/11/10)

I’m in the midst of trying to pull my head out of my ass and finally finish my current writing project (it’s been a rough fucking year, more on that soon), and it seems a proper time for it, as National Novel Writing Month has now begun.

My participation will be more concurrent than participatory, but I’m with all you NaNo hacks in spirit all the same.

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Work Habits

Cory Doctorow (whose book Little Brother I recommended with extreme prejudice a while back) has a piece at Locus Online called “Writing in the Age of Distraction,” which gives some pointers on work habits for writers. For instance, he recommends a “Short, regular work schedule:”

When I’m working on a story or novel, I set a modest daily goal — usually a page or two — and then I meet it every day, doing nothing else while I’m working on it. It’s not plausible or desirable to try to get the world to go away for hours at a time, but it’s entirely possible to make it all shut up for 20 minutes. Writing a page every day gets me more than a novel per year — do the math — and there’s always 20 minutes to be found in a day, no matter what else is going on. Twenty minutes is a short enough interval that it can be claimed from a sleep or meal-break (though this shouldn’t become a habit). The secret is to do it every day, weekends included, to keep the momentum going, and to allow your thoughts to wander to your next day’s page between sessions. Try to find one or two vivid sensory details to work into the next page, or a bon mot, so that you’ve already got some material when you sit down at the keyboard.

This is interesting, because Cory’s pretty darned prolific, but it sounds like he’s not exactly at the Asimov end of the work habit spectrum. A page or two a day, that’d net you 365 to 730 pages a year, so yeah, it’ll add up. But I’m surprised that he doesn’t have a higher daily goal. Stephen King aims for ten pages a day, which is about 2,000 words.

I’m not prolific, but I’m working on at least earning the right to use the first three letters of the word to refer to myself. To do that, I continue developing my own work habits, trying to figure out what actually works for me. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Day 1: Doc Wilde Returns

As of today, Doctor Spartacus Wilde and his swashbuckling and brilliant offspring, Brian and Wren, returned to action, after resting a bit following their epic defeat of the Frogs of Doom. (Read about that adventure in the first book, coming out in May 2009!)

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, has commenced. My son and I, both participating, tossed our computers in packs, shouldered the packs, and hiked out on a journey of literaturing. We camped in a nice cafe’ with wifi and wrote the afternoon away.

His goal, decided upon based on other factors like school, martial arts classes, drum lessons, afternoon science club, and such, is 100 words a day, to result in a 3,000 word story at month’s end.

My goal, as an adult participant (not to mention full-time writer), is 1,500 words a day, toward an ultimate goal of 50,000 words.

I usually write 1,000 words a day, but today’s 1,500 came easily, and I’m very happy with the book’s beginning. I did decide that this project would be the next Doc Wilde adventure, Doc Wilde and The Daughter of Darkness.

I have some friends who are allegedly participating in the month’s writing, and we’ll see if they are. They, or anyone else who’s playing, can sign up to be my writing buddy over at NaNoWriMo.org, and we can watch our progress bars grow and stuff. My user name is outlawmoon.

As a special treat, here’s Chapter 1 of my new book, in its rough, first draft, fresh-from-the-oven form: Continue reading

Writing & Those Moods You’re Having

Start writing more. It’ll get rid of all those moods you’re having.
–Ray Bradbury

I used to have this quote on a sticky note stuck to my computer monitor, and it has never lost its wise charm for me. Bradbury is absolutely right: the act of writing, itself, is a great balm for heart and soul, and the gods all know by now I need that balm, these days more than ever.

I’m never happier or healthier than when I’m into a writing project full-tilt, over my head, spilling over. This isn’t to say that the writing is always enjoyable, because often it’s anything but. But the intense application of self  produces satisfaction and engages the brain in wonderful ways and an act of pure creation is a soulful thing.

Writing something can be hard work, but the hardest part is beginning. Oh, and keeping at it. Yes, those are the hardest parts, along with ending it. Other than that, it’s all a breeze. Continue reading


As I near the publication of my first book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, people are already asking about what’s next. What’s next is another Doc Wilde adventure, which I’m working on now, though not with the white hot intensity with which I do my best work, at least not yet.

I need to be obsessively committed to a writing project or it’ll take forever to finish. And here it is, October. Which means there’s something else to consider.


If you don’t know about it, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. I believe this is its tenth year. Its purpose is to encourage folks to write their asses off in November with the goal of having a 50,000 novel at the other end. You’re supposed to just write write write every day to meet your word count, without stressing over how good it is or if you’re choosing the right word or any self-editing. Editing will come in after November, when you can revisit the raw material you’ve produced and polish it up.

I’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo, but always been interested and had decided to do it this year. I’m usually a relentless polisher of my stuff as I write, but when I let myself go and write just to write, I’m usually pleased with the results. I wrote Frogs of Doom that way deliberately, trying for that manic production push the pulp writers used, and it resulted in my first book sale. I’m thinking I need to make speedy, non-meticulous writing a habit.

My twelve year old son is going to be taking part in the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, and is really excited about it. It’s going to be a great activity we can do together, intensely, for a month. I’m looking forward to it too.

If you’re interested in finding out more, go to http://www.nanowrimo.org. There are forums and widgets and all sorts of support material there, all aimed at motivating writers and allowing an online community to form. I’m gonna be there under the username outlawmoon. Maybe I’ll see you there.