My Writing Process

A few people have asked me about my writing process.  I have a goal of writing at least 2,000 words a day of anything, with a hope of 2,500 or more.  I have relaxed my standard a bit as some times this word count is reached only in the form of work or church related e-mails.  A general daily routine is like this:

After the kids have had breakfast and at least one of the three kids gets dressed, they usually settle down to play with toys or legos, almost always all in the same room.  I bring my laptop there to supervise and begin to type.

Type twelve words, then force kids to share.  Type seven words, then force kids to share again.  Type three words, and revise sentence.  Take away the troublesome toy, which is really a used tongue depressor, and put it up high.  Make mental note to throw it in the trash later.

Type twenty words and count “one” for Mira for taking a swing at one of her sisters and say “no hitting.”  Type six more words and then preempt the next attack by quickly adding “No kicking either.”  Type four more words and count “two” as Mira spits on someone.  Count “three” as Mira shrieks in my ear to express her anger.  Absentmindedly type the words time out into the manuscript as I say them.  Give up after time out and try to wear the kids out by playing princess party.

After an hour, play breaks down.  The kids grab books to read.  I make sure everyone seems content, grab the laptop and type eleven words.  Pick up my glasses after Kirsten clocks me across the face with Baby Beluga, which is how she asks me to read it to her.  I do.  Then she wants it sung.  Suddenly, karaoke night breaks out, and I am asked to be the backup singer as each girl in turn performs their favorite song from Phineas and Ferb.

Lunch time.  I make macaroni and cheese for Emily, a hot dog for Mira, peanut butter saltine crackers for Kirsten, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the first person who complains about having been given their favorite food for lunch.  I sneak out into the living room and write nine words.  I return to the kitchen to pour everyone orange juice instead of milk. I return to the living room, type seventeen words, and return to the kitchen to get everyone ice water.  There are now nine glasses on the table.  Stupidly, I return to the living room, type one letter of one word, and respond to the shriek.  There are now seven glasses on the table.  This is why I keep the laptop in the living room during lunch time.

After lunch.  MOVIE TIME.  Laboriously poll children to find something they can all agree on.  Type one paragraph.  None of them agree anymore.  Emily sneaks off to another room to watch Fanboy and Chum Chum, a “big kid show”, an idiotic piece of nonsense, on Netflix.  I let it slide, help Mira pick a new movie and type twenty-nine words.  Mira is touching Kirsten, resolved by pointing at them.  Type fourteen words. Kirsten is touching Mira.  Move second comfy chair from living room to in front of the computer to give Kirsten her own chair.  Type six words.  Kirsten never really wanted a movie or a chair.  She wants the LEGOs.  Alternate typingone word and helping Kirsten unstick a LEGO for the next twenty minutes.  Give up and play LEGOs.

Get phone call.  Someone needs info on something somewhere like right the f**k now.  Break out the cookies and pour them in bowls and stick them in front of the children.  Type one hundred and forty nine words in ninety seconds and hit “send”.  Pour out sippy cups of milk to thirsty cookie-crumb covered children like a hyperkinetic bartender on crack.  Look at laptop as computer pings. Something needs clarifying.  Ask kids if anyone needs the bathroom.  When everyone says no, lock myself in bathroom to type response.  Type twenty-eight words.  Let kids in to use the bathroom.  Stand in shower holding laptop with one arm while typing remaining forty-nine words of e-mail.  Hit send.

Answer doorbell.  Talk for ten seconds.  Turn around when bell ringer laughs and intercept parade of toddlers naked from the waist down.

ART TIME.  Take out crayons, markers, watercolors, white paper, colored paper, crepe paper, paper plates, stamps, stamp pads, and a handful of macaroni and put it on the table.  Hand Emily the glue stick and scissors and tell her to guard them with her life.  Go to get laptop.  Return, take glue stick out of the baby’s nose, the scissors out of Mira’s hair, and responsibility out of Emily’s hands.  Settle everyone and type ten words.  They want to do chalk drawings on black paper.  Say we have no black paper. Go look for black paper.  Blow out multifunction printer ink by photocopying a black binder onto three sheets of white paper.  Return to table.  Go to look for children.  Find them outside playing with sidewalk chalk.  While monitoring them outside, subtlytype thirty-seven words on my mobile device and e-mail it to my laptop inside.

Back inside, time to start supper, a fully hands on process that does not give me opportunity to sneak off to type.  Children quietly play nicely together for forty-five minutes, damn them.  Greet wife.  Serve dinner.  Ignore complaints.  Eat dinner.  Allow one child to go to the bathroom.  Answer call for help from the bathroom.  Return three minutes later to find all the kids have dismissed themselves.  Watch wife shrug and finish her dinner.  Clean up dishes, hand kid duties off to wife and lay down.

Write forty words, but they are all in Words With Friends, so it doesn’t count.  Look at passage I e-mailed to myself from the mobile.  Realize I have no idea what the hell I typed out there.  Curse absence of touch typing on iPhone screens.

7:30 PM — begin bedtime routine to get kids in bed by 8:00 PM.
10:37 PM — kids are in bed.
10:39 PM — Go to bed.

Can’t sleep.  Get up.  Look at clock. 11:30 PM.  Decide to write for one hour.  Write two thousand words. Look at clock.  3:00 AM. Set alarm for seven. Go to sleep on couch.  Sleep through alarm.  Get woken by wife on her way out the door.

Reset counter. Begin again.



Author of over sixty children's books, as well writer of textbook materials and standardized exam text. I may have helped teach your children...

Posted in On Writing, Semicoherent Rambling

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