(And while Mike holds down the fort at Terry's Place, I'm over at The Blood-Red Pencil talking about the pitfalls of "ing" words.)
For a number of years, like many people, I wrote while working full time. Unlike many writers who have been at it since they were eight years old, I entered this writing world at the age of fifty-six when I made the decision to pursue fiction writing as a vocation I could retire into rather than just retire away from my day job. The benefit of undertaking writing at this age—more life experience than the young whippersnappers and more outside of work time with my kids grown so no soccer games, swim meets, concerts and plays to attend.
When I began writing novel length material, I came across a technique in the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Julia describes Morning Pages as a way of getting the creative juices flowing by writing three handwritten pages first thing in the morning. These can be anything—a shopping list, a journal, anything you choose to write.
I took this concept and adapted it to my particular needs. I’m a morning person, so I enjoy writing first thing in the day. When I was working full time, I knew I would be wiped out at the end of the work day and not be able to concentrate on being creative. So my solution was to adapt the Morning Pages concept as follows: First thing every morning I reviewed where I had left off the day before in my novel. Then wrote three handwritten pages to continue the story. I went off to work, and when I returned in the evening, I entered these pages into my computer, performing an editing pass along the way. This typically produced two typed pages.
And the arithmetic—if I kept this up for 150 days, I’d have a rough draft for a 300 page novel. Although I wasn’t able to do this every day, I was consistent enough that I produced the rough drafts for my three published novels using this technique. I don’t claim that this will work for everyone, but it is one way to write while working full time.
I have always tried to exercise every day, and many times this consisted of taking walks. While working full time, I would often take a walk at lunchtime when my meeting schedule and travel allowed. I found this to be an excellent time to brainstorm whatever manuscript I happened to be writing. I would carry a notepad and pen with me, and when an idea occurred, I’d jot it down.
Finally, once I completed my rough draft, I went through numerous editing/revision cycles. These I typically did on weekends. I had editing passes for story flow, consistency, grammar, repetitive words. On the final pass I read it out loud.
Now that I’ve retired from my thirty-nine year career in the computer industry to write full time, I’ve modified this process again. I now write directly into the computer in the morning, take my mid-day walk to brainstorm and do editing, email, social networking and promotional activities in the afternoon.
Each writer has a process that works best for him or her. This has been mine, and until I change again, I’m sticking with it.
Mike Befeler's novels include three books in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery series: Retirement Homes Are Murder, Living with Your Kids Is Murder and Senior Moments Are Murder. Living with Your Kids Is Murder was a finalist for the Lefty Award for the best humorous mystery of 2009. You can learn more about Mike at his website, his blog, or on Facebook.
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