Thursday, June 14, 2012

Part Two: Let's Talk...


Now, a few days later than promised, on to the second question: process!


I used to just sort of write at my work. I have about a zillion unfinished stories haunting my harddrive, and they might never get finished. Why? For some of them, because they're just not very good. For others, I never really intended to finish; it might just be a scene or a pretty moment that I can use later. For most of them, though, it's because I never established a routine.


Shortly before I dove into this book, I read Stephen King's On Writing. Now, look, don't be a snob. If you're here reading this you have no reason to be a snob -- I write trash, in King's words, but I hope I write good trash. On Writing was invaluable to me. I learned so much from it, and it's not even a very long book. It's approachable, interesting, and easy to read.


In it, King says he sets a word goal for himself every day, and he doesn't stop writing until he reaches that goal. So that's what I did. My goal was easy peasy: 1k words. That's not very much; I set the bar low on purpose so it would seem achievable. Most days I wrote at least 2k words, and some days as many as 4k. Other days those measly 1k words seemed like a damn marathon. I would sit and sit and every single sentence was like a major dental procedure.

Here's a newsflash, kids: despite what people think, writing isn't easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a fool or a liar. Or a really crappy writer. I don't think there's anyone out there who listens to Mozart and thinks, "Shit yeah, I could compose that in my SLEEP!" But there are plenty of people who will read an amazing book, shrug, and say, "Easy. Gimme a typewriter and an idea and I'll give you a best seller."

It doesn't happen that way. Writing 98k words (the rough length of Dark Man) takes discipline. Blood, sweat, and tears. Don't get my wrong, dear blogledites; I'm in no way comparing myself to Mozart. I'm just saying that just because you can write a coherent sentence doesn't mean you should write a book.

Also, and here's something else I learned from Stephen King: don't write unless you're also reading. It never occurred to me that there were writers out there who don't read. How the heck can you know good writing unless you read? How can you know your genre, your audience, your voice?

Whenever I picked up a book to read while writing Dark Man, it helped me clear my head. I went back to writing with a different perspective, and a voice in my skull other than my own. My sentence structure and vocabulary became more varied. It was nothing at all but win.

So. What have we learned here? Stephen King knows a damn lot about writing. Set a routine. Read a lot, as much as possible. Don't be an arrogant sod.

Words of wisdom for a lifetime, dear blogledites.  :)

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