Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing My Novel – A Curious Conflagration!
Where I tell you to Be like Stephen King; Write Madly, Write Often

 "... 10 pages a day, 7 days a week, for the next three months. Tough ..."

Like many writers before me, I assumed that I could dash off a book in a couple of months like my hero Stephen King; 10 pages a day, 7 days a week, etc etc, before I realized that there’s only ONE Stephen King, and there was no way I could hope to match the speed at which he dissipates words. The man just has drive.

So I poke and prod at this Work in Progress, my Novel, not knowing if anyone in the publishing world is even remotely interested in it. I suppose that could be construed as a good thing; toiling in absolute ignorance and wallowing in my un-awareness allows me the comfort of writing without worry. But I worry anyway, worry I’ll get to 60,000 words and find out my premise sucks, or my story smells facile, or something dreadfully wrong was happening during my absent-minded composing of the first draft and I just now noticed. Horrors.

I mean, we the writers always assume that we know what good literature is, right? We’ve read enough damn books. But something curious happens when we begin to write our own story – we start to lose the big picture; we’re too close to it.  When I start re-reading the stuff (a cardinal writer sin), I get this yucky feeling, like I want to change everything! But then I remember (Insert old chestnut here): write now, edit later. Preferably 6 – 8 weeks later, when the manuscript takes on a strange and foreign feel.

10 pages a day, 7 days a week, for the next three months. Tough. I only think in these terms because I’m an impatient cuss, and I like to think the faster the book is put down, the more inspired it will be. Of course, the opposite is true too; the more time you spend on a book, the better it may be in the long run. I suppose it all depends on the individual. Doesn’t it always?  I still think it’s possible to write a book in three months. Stephen King wrote one in a week (The Running Man, I think), but as we all know, he's a special case.

The Ink-Stained Wretch

But It’s always the same: A new month starts, or year (choose your time frame) - denoting a ‘fresh slate’ - and the itch begins to really put some miles on the page and get the novel underway. When this feeling overwhelms me, I usually stand up in the middle of the room, stretch, do some isometric yoga, beat my chest a little (Yes, we men do this, don’t be fooled) and affirm our intentions to the (empty) room and the cosmos call back their approbations. Sitting down in front of the stinky old manuscript, I decide to tackle it, finish it, get it done, by god, and nothing’s going to stop me, is it? Stupid blinking cursor! I … erm … curse you!  “I hereby evoke the literary deities to come down and save me” I say.  I beseech the spirits of Hemingway, Steinbeck, and London (And yeah, even Louis L'Amour) hoping some of their magic goes into my fingertips and brains.

So I sit down to write my ten pages …

… and wouldn’t you know, the phone rings, the dog pukes on the rug, there’s a knock at the door, 50 friends show up unannounced, or the scent of unwashed laundry assails my nostrils reminding me it’s time to do the wash. Oh and the dishes have to be done or else the ‘significant other’ will garrote me.

Life, there’s nothing like it!

I hearten myself by remembering that Stephen King shoved himself down in a boiler room of his apartment building, knowing he had two kids and a wife upstairs and barely two nickels to rub together. Somehow he tossed all this aside and wrote. He called it his ‘escape’.  I call it 'Being able to zone out'.

(Stephen never had to deal with the distraction of Internet, cable TV or 24-hour news cycles, but I digress …)

Affirmation: I will keep on, because I have to, damn it, because I want my book published (And of course, I want heaps of praise lavished on me … )

I guess I’ll just have to buy ear plugs and ignore the stinky laundry, at least until I get my ten pages ...

Here's a few 'Writer Affirmations' to light a fire under your ass: 

You will be dead one day, so you better get that damn book finished.

You can’t be called an ‘author’ unless you finish the damn book.

The sooner you finish the damn book, the sooner you can loiter around Chapters and see who’s flipping through your book without buying it.

You can’t talk to anyone about your writing anymore because they roll their eyes because you haven’t finished the damn book.

Type faster, finish the damn book.

You will become a taxi driver, or a Gardening Talk show host in Amarillo, Texas instead, because you didn’t finish the damn book.

This concludes our broadcast day ... 

Yours truly, David Hunter


  1. I love affirmation #2. I have to remind myself of that constantly...

    Doesn't work. Or, at least, it hasn't worked yet.


  2. Same here, Tura, but I remain determined. I love writing too much to NOT get that book done =)

  3. Me too. But I always hit a wall around page 50. I've restarted the same novel three times now.

    So it's on the back burner, stewing, while I work on some shorter pieces. ^_^

  4. I tend to get stalled around the 60 page mark too ... but at least we're writing =)

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