Thoughts on writing…

Yeah, yeah, I know you smell something burning… :-p

Writing is a solitary endeavor, engaged in by various methods and practices, by a wide variety of people across many cultures.

Which is a polite way of saying there isn’t really a ‘right’ way to do it. You can read books on ‘how’ to write, but the most important thing is to sit and write. Outliner, pantser, shorthand, longhand, typed on a typewriter or computer, using a voice program, or scribbled on clay tablets… Some sit and ‘write’ the entire novel in their heads, then put it on paper.

I’m what I guess I’d call a random writer. I have a basic plot (most of the time), and at least a semblance of where the novel is going, but I tend to skip around in the writing. I may write the ending first, then the beginning, or the middle, or some combination of the above.

Another thing I do, which I’ve been told is ‘odd’, is that I have parts/pieces of at least three novels going at once. My rationale is that when I do get writer’s block on one, I can jump to another one, get some work done on that one, etc.

Of course that’s assuming the muse doesn’t go haring off into the sunset or sunrise, deciding to do something entirely different… Like what’s going on right now… Sigh.

Some people have to have it dead quiet, others write to music, with the music depending on what style they are writing. Me? I’m half deaf, so I use news channels as white noise.

My ‘goal’ is 10-12000 words a week. I know that’s not a lot, compared to other writers, but that’s what I’m comfortable doing. And I’m blessed in that I can shoot chapters to the others in our group, and they will sanity check them. If I get the Golden Retriever head cock, I know I screwed something up, and it’s usually followed by, “Uh, not sure what you meant here.” So I take notes, and go rewrite… 🙂

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, thanks to our local librarian, we now have a local writer’s group that meets at the library once a month! We’ve donated copies of our books to the library, and she volunteered the library to host the meetings. So far, there are 10-12 folks that have shown up, and some are also published both traditionally, and indie. We’re getting a good exchange of ideas, and have done a few writing exercises, and hopefully we’ll be moving into critiques (I am of the opinion that the more eyes, the better for constructive criticism).

So where am I on the books? 65,000 words on the next Rimworld, 27,000 on probably a third Rimworld (or maybe a stand alone, not sure yet), and about 10,000 on the next Grey Man. And about 5,000 on a western.

I do have to make one side comment though… Watching the news just reminds me that truth is really stranger than fiction! If I tried to write a novel and put in it the stuff going on today, nobody would believe it… Sigh…

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to those who’ve read my books and given me honest reviews! They are truly appreciated!


Thoughts on writing… — 19 Comments

  1. Your books are a pleasure to read. Your proofreaders are doing a good job. I’m not much for the sci-fi genre so don’t purchase, but your Grey Man series is slammin’ – good job !

  2. A western eh? I reenact that period so I’ll be interested to see that one.

    • Yes, I think that an Old NFO Western would be very interesting. Maybe it’s in the pipe and maybe it isn’t, but the best stories are always about people. People in outer space, people in combat – toe to toe with the Ruskies, or people being people and trying to solve their way out of problems that we can all relate to. The interesting part about the Old West is that there is so much to draw from when you’re living in “The Old West”.

  3. I didn’t know you were working on a western. That’s awesome.

  4. Ooh, a western, that would be awesome!

    Looking forward with great anticipation.

    On the subject of writing, I appreciate good writing much in the same way I can enjoy and appreciate a really gourmet meal, even though I can’t cook a gourmet meal. ( I think that makes sense)

    I do realize that I have had to upgrade my writing skills to make coherent and readable comments. In no way does that make me a writer.

    Thank you for the large amount of work it takes to turn what is happening in your brain, into the books that I enjoy reading.

  5. Hey Old NFO;

    Sweeet, you working a western? Yippy Kai Yay..Mother…Er sorry wrong movie, but you get the gist, LOL and I am glad that you are writing another”Gray man”, and of course “Rimworld”.

  6. Julio- Thank you! And I know not everyone likes SciFi. 🙂

    Jim- So NO pressure, right? 😀

    LL- Good point!

    SPE- 🙂

    John- Thank you

    Bob- ROTF…

  7. I have 7 or 8 different stories that I’m working on at odd intervals.

    The book on writing that I found most helpful was On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King. In summary, he says to stop fooling around on the Internet and start writing.

  8. Great production techniques won’t produce a satisfactory product, and the things you mention are just that: production technique. IF you have the ability to create AND communicate a story, then an ONLY then, you have something to work with.

    You know those guys who say ‘Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a story! Why don’t I tell you the idea, and you write it down, and we’ll split the profits?” Yeah, those guys. They fail to realize that there is SO MUCH MORE than just coming up with an idea; that’s the creative part. It’s the COMMUNICATING part that separates the wheat from the chaff. Being able to put the bar scene in context of the rest of the story, then describe the bar scene so that it is lovely, AND it moves the story along: that’s the part that earns the bucks.

    I’ll bet you a nickel that if you give me 30 minutes on Amazon I can find you a literary example of putting lipstick on a pig. It will have a great cover, the fonts and formatting will be well done, correct spelling and grammar, and whatever else you desire; what it WON’T have is a well-told story; it might not have a story at all. Of course, frequently those works DO have the format errors, but it’s not the format errors that kills them.

    YOU, sir, know how to write. Yeah, sure, somebody could sell you a software package or preparation services, and it do…something…, I guess,…BUT it’s your STORY-TELLING that has earned you a following. I read something recently… I THINK it was by Nick Cole? and I THINK I saw it referenced by Peter Grant? …anyway, it was the idea that an author who was reasonable prolific could sub-contract out all of the production to somebody else, and pay them a LOT of money to do that, and come out WAY ahead on the bottom line. That may become the new delivery model for RICH indie writers.

    But, bottom line for me is this ancient aphorism I coined myself, sometime in the past 65 years:

    “No matter how good your marketing strategy, there’s just not a whole lot of demand for frozen cat urine on a stick.”

  9. Ten to twelve thousand words a week is still a half million words a year, which could be in the range of 4-7 novels depending upon duration.

  10. Will the western feature an earlier generation of Cronins? I liked the way you worked that into Rimworld.

  11. Mr. Curtis, can you have John Cronin simultaneously teleported to Rimworld AND the Western? That would be cool….

  12. Bill- Good point, but research… sigh… Spent 3 hours on that today.

    Pat/Frank- Good points!

    TOS- Yep, but ‘some’ of that ends up in the save file, not in a particular book… sigh

    Skip- It’s in the mill!

    David/Thad- LOL, no this will be a standalone western.

  13. Seems most writers have an inner compulsion to write. Most lack the discipline to finish! So says a man who is satisfied with his minor blog but was married over twenty years to a brilliant writer who has never finished a damn thing.

  14. How about a snippet of the western. By the way I appreciate all of your stories but I like Gray Man th best.