Sunday, July 17, 2011

WRITING AS AN EXTREME SPORT by Wendy Delsol

In the July issue of RWR (Romance Writers Report), a publication of the Romance Writers of America, Lynsay Sands, a New York Times Bestselling author of multiple genres, describes her writing process:

“…when I write a book, that’s all I do. I get up and write until I start falling asleep at the computer and then I go to bed, get up, and do it again. Some days are 20 hours; some are 36 with four-hour naps in between. The last three days, I may not sleep at all. It’s hard on the body but keeps me in the story.”

Wow! Let me repeat that—wow! Talk about an exhausting, and individual, writing style. And while I’m no match for this writing-as-an-extreme-sport approach to making deadline, there are aspects of Lynsay’s regimen that make sense.

I have an August 15 deadline for the third book in the Stork trilogy. Since June 1, I have written over 35,000 words. For me and my own writing regimen, this is a grueling schedule. I generally write a pretty clean first draft. This style requires that a day’s effort (I’m currently shooting for 1000 words a day) pass my own brand of muster. I stop to craft passages, avoid clichés, revisit previous passages, check for word repetition, etc. This has led to many days at the computer or pen in hand (yes, due to an overused right arm, I often write longhand) until nine or ten at night. To be fair, I take breaks. My youngest son still requires chauffeur services. Laundry must get done. The kitchen doesn’t clean itself; nor do the bathrooms. And I still find time for my other passion: tennis. Allowing for these daily diversions, I’m still putting in 6-8 hours of daily writing-related work and WILL make deadline.

Still, I’m no Lynsay. And while attempting her schedule would certainly lead to my hospitalization (the psychiatric ward a real possibility), there are aspects of her writing that resonate with me. “I find writing this way allows me to hold onto the thread of the story as I tend to avoid any and all interruptions while doing it, so I am very immersed in what I’m writing,” says Lynsay. Now, THIS I get.

When writing at a slower pace—say at 500 words a day and taking the weekends off—I often begin with a now-where-were-we delay. With this summer’s pace, I haven’t experienced this effect as much. Of course, there are pauses, lost days even, for plotting, construct issues, research, etc., but I’m still deep into the story within these sidebars.

All in all, I genuflect to Lynsay. She’s an ironman, whereas I classify myself more in the power-walker ranks. In the end, it’s all about how we get to THE END, which I fully intend to do by August 15. So back to it …

By the way, please enjoy the summer for me :)

5 comments:

  1. Wow, Sand's process sounds brutal. I'm totally with ya on the racewalking...

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  2. I would love to try Sands's method, at least for a few days! Last year I was getting up at 4.30am at writing for a few hours, and I was not a happy camper to be around.

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  3. Sands' schedule wouldn't work for me as a lifestyle, but I could handle it for a few days if I absolutely had to. That said, I try not to paint myself into a situation where that's necessary. Your way is far more doable.

    BTW, summer is overrated. Autumn rocks!

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  4. Too brutal for me - but like you said, I see the point of 'staying the story.' My own deadline was 7/15 and I, too, revise/tweak/rewrite as I go along. So 1,000 words for me takes awhile. So basically mid June to Jul 15th I was chained to the laptop in an increasingly messy house, the story always in my mind. And now it's been a struggle to get to the next project... but that is where I'm headed right now!

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  5. Great comments, everyone. I find the writing habits of others fascinating. So many, many ways to get THE END.

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