The Blog of Author Robert K. Lewis

About The Process.

I was reading an interesting thread the other day over at a great forum for writers called Agent Query Connect. If you’re searching for an agent, they also have an incredible database of agent email addresses, with information on what each agent is looking for, and their submission guidelines, etc. Use it. Love it. You can find that here.

Anyway, there I was, reading this thread on word count per day (excuse me if I’ve talked about this before, my mind is going) and the originator was wondering if we work in this way, by word count. I do write with a certain amount of words in mind. One thousand a day. Most days I make that, but about once a week or so, I miss it through being too tired from my day job, etc. Life intrudes, yeah? Can’t help it. Happens to us all, even the lucky writers who get to do this for their day job. I also set deadlines. Some writers do not, and other writers couldn’t care less about words per day. They just write, keeping their manuscript moving forward in their own way, using their own process.

And it struck me that this is really one of the beautiful things about writing: we each have our own process. One of the greatest days that happens for a writer is when they find the process that works best for them. There’s no right or wrong process, either, which is also wonderful. How can a process be wrong, if it works for someone? 500 words a day or 5000 thousand. Whatever works for you.

For me, during the first draft, it’s about momentum. Moving the story forward. My 1000 words a day gives me that. I’m now approaching the last 20K or so of this current project. I’m hoping to write the last 10K over a couple days, as I feel this might lend itself to the forward thrust of the last act of the book. Anyway, that’s what I hope for. Writing like this is a part of my process, a process that I figured out about five years ago now. My process during rewrites, however, is completely different, and I’ll blog about it once I get this manuscript to that stage.

So, the question for the day is: what is your process? How do you work?

And, as an added special bonus for today, here is a list of the writing books that are my favorites. I love reading books on writing, and have read each of these many times over. The exercises at the back of John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction have taught me so much, and I still pull them out and do one or two of them from time to time, when I need a little “umph” in my writing muscles.

Here they are. If you’ve not read them, I heartily recommend you do. You won’t go wrong, trust me.

Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose
On Becoming a Novelist, John Gardner
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner
Bird by Bird, Anne Lammott (really, this one is also a life primer, not just a writing primer)
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Browne and King
The Faith of a Writer, Joyce Carrol Oates
Stein on Writing, Sol Stein

I guess you could say that continually reading books on writing is also a part of my process. 🙂


2 responses

  1. I write every day. Even if it’s a few hundred words, I need to put something down. I usually aim for 1000 per day, but it doesn’t always happen. The one thing that always kicks my butt into overdrive is to know that someone is waiting on me to finish something (whether it be edits or pages). Then I don’t stop for anything until it’s done. Love deadlines!

    04/17/2010 at 8:41 pm

  2. Yeah, deadlines are a good thing. 1000 seems to be almost an average, from what I’ve gleaned off the internet. Knowing that I have to turn in a draft ALWAYS makes me work harder, too. It’s just the way I’m wired about the things I love to do.

    04/17/2010 at 11:18 pm

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