Thursday, January 19, 2006

Random Book-Writing Thoughts

Writing books isn't the easiest thing in the world. What I'm finding, now, is that time is getting short. I'm looking at the volume of work I've been commissioned to produce for this book, and I've come to the realization that time isn't something I own any longer. It's gone. It's three in the morning right now, and I could swear I just woke up. You learn, when you're writing a book on a deadline, that there aren't enough days left in the string to make you comfortable.

This isn't because you're rushing, or because you're struggling to come up with the material. That, you've got. It's the sitting and thinking that accelerates the damned clock. It's getting together a coherent string of thoughts, and then having the real world interfere with the chain. It's the forty-five minutes it takes you to figure out how to transition between sections. To make yesterday's work segue cleanly into today's.

And what I'm also learning is that you have to trust your own editing, because eventually you get too far along in a book to go back and reread the fucking thing every single day. Eventually, the first stuff you wrote is going to be so far back there that you simply have to leave it as is, and move on with the new. It's not blogging. If you've got a blog, and it's you've been maintaining it for over a year, think about what it'd be like to go back and edit the living hell out of every post you wrote that you don't like now. Can't be done. You gotta do it right the first time.

And the adverbs. Damn my fucking adverbs to hell, for all eternity. You write and you write and you write, and you try to let it all fly, and the first thing you're doing when you go back over the whole fucking mess is taking a hatchet to all those stupid fucking adverbs that you tend to use over, and over, and over again. It's a goddamned disaster. I never realized I did that so compulsively. Why didn't any of you fuckers ever tell me?

One little tip I can give, and this is something that's come in rather handy so far, is to write down, as soon as you're finished with your day's session, exactly what to start off with tomorrow. I've been doing that, and it works. Gives me a little framework for my transition paragraphs, and winds me up to get going into whatever section I'm working through next. Everything has to be leading somewhere, and if you can make sure, before you go to sleep, to set yourself some guidelines for your work the next day, you'll find yourself well ahead of the game, and you'll save yourself a shitload of time.

Oh yeah, and when you're done for the night? Get the fuck away from the computer, and go to sleep.