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1.05.2009

Writing Process: A New Routine

When I went to the gym today, the place was packed. Gyms do their best business in January, thanks to all of those pesky resolutions. So why is January 1 such an important day for renewing promises to oneself? Why is it any different than March 22 or September 9?

Threshold, I suppose. A fresh start holds promise. And since our time here is finite (at least in this go-round), each new year represents a chance for improvement.

Anyone fall off the horse yet on his or her resolution? Just curious...

I didn't make any hard-and-fast resolutions, but my wife and I made a deal to limit eating out to once a month. I did set some goals, and I've adjusted my writing schedule to hopefully become more fruitful.

In On Writing, Stephen King says that he keeps regular business hours. He takes four days off each year, otherwise he works on two or three projects at a time, writing each day in the morning.

I'm not working at the college in the first two months of 2009. I'll teach a couple of night classes in March and April, giving me a four-month window in which to harvest a respectable word count. And, rather than put a limit on that word count, I'm going to try to sit at the computer, Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 until noon each morning. I'll jog, fish or read in the afternoon and then get back to the word processor around 3:00. I think I'll take Fridays off and work on short fiction during the weekend.

These are all guidelines, of course, and I want to remain flexible. I mulled over the opening chapter of book #3 last night for an hour before nodding off and, while I jotted notes on it, I want to get the re-write done on book #2 before I move on. My hope is this approach will distill the work, allowing me to focus on a project at a time until I knock 'em out.

I've written before that I'm pretty interested in the creative process. I like thinking about how these stories come to maturity and, while there's no direct road map, any number of methods lead to the same place.

Well, rather than focus on a weekly word count, I'm going to try this routine. It's more regimented than anything I've done before; I'll confess that part of my attraction to the uniformity of such an approach is guilt. I want to associate the morning hours with writing. I think that'll help keep my ass in the chair.

So what say you, sparse posters? Word count? Page count? Time limit? Strike while the iron is hot?

Make up stories about romances forged at prison camp fences?

Sorry, had to get that last one in. My faith in memoir as truthful commentary is slim to none right about now, so please forgive my cynicism.

But the question remains: how do you create art?

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