Although, sometimes, I wish it would pause long enough for me to get some real sleep.
My long time friend and editor, Marcia Brown, does her best to help me maintain, what passes for, my sanity, but even she is boggled by my most recent outpouring of work.
After completing Becoming Ulysses, I asked my brain if I could take a little break from writing to catch up with things like cleaning my house, and seeing the sky without glass in the way. My brain gave me a few weeks, so I rushed to catch up on Etsy work, and then the bastard dropped two books into my loading screen at the same time.
As I’ve touched on before, the way I write isn’t based on any sort of outline or need to express a creative idea. It’s more like a DVD being shown in my consciousness, and the only way to move forward in the story is to write down what I see. I can’t fast forward, and I don’t know anything the characters don’t know. So, about two weeks ago, my brain loaded up the paused first scenes from two different movies, and basically flipped between the two every hour until I pressed “play”. I picked one, and had to get through it before I was allowed to sleep again.
Now the other one is coughing politely.
There are a few upsides to this method, as insane as I know it seems. Firstly, I write only final drafts, and aside from the occasional typo or odd phrasing, they don’t require much editing to polish. I realize that anyone who reads this proclamation will see it as complete hogwash, insisting that I’m espousing to have a literary genie in a bottle, and I can’t really fault their skepticism. All I can do is ask them to talk to my editor, who watches me crank out 10,000 words per day like a possessed typewriter.
The speed makes sense, once you consider my long history of short deadlines. At one point in my life, I was writing and drawing a monthly comic, ghosting for a video game website, creating wig tutorials, and animating car commercials… all while still answering 80,000 customer and fan emails per month. I dare you to do that math.
Another bonus to the “movie in my head” method is that I can rewind and revisit a scene after I’m done. By default, my SFF stories seem to land solidly at 70,000 words, but I can always go back to a scene and “look around” to see if there was anything I missed. Sometimes, I’ll take a little more time to describe the room. Sometimes, I’ll examine the protagonist’s fingernails for evidence. It’s as if I’m in the scene, so I can see all of the details and choose which ones are important to mention, or which are just background noise. My brain is downright scary with the clues it sneaks past my radar, so I’ve learned to trust it, and tell it like it is.
And that’s the final positive, I never get writer’s block. This agreement that I’ve worked out with my brain means that it takes the wheel, and I’m just the keyboard monkey. While there is always a point around the 50k mark that I start biting my fingernails, unsure of how the mess the characters have gotten themselves into will be resolved, I never have to figure it out for them. They’re not controlled by the iron collar of plot, and as long as I keep typing what I see them do, they’ll find their own way out. – K