Blitzkrieg! (followed by inevitable Hibernation)

Writing fiction has, for the most part, been a seasonal occupation for me, centered around the month of November when NaNoWriMo happens. During the month of November, I churn out something between 50,000 – 80,000 words. Sometimes that effort spills into December, and this year that effort has spilled into January (I should probably admit that it’ll be February, but my peer reading group will kill me if that happens).

While I’m on my novel-writing binge, I write anywhere and everywhere. The office, the coffee shop, the library, my home office, the back patio. It all depends on my mood. Sometimes I crave distraction, while other times I need a quiet refuge. Certain settings will inspire me to churn out words, while others will provoke deep thoughts about particular aspects of my story. Sometimes I need the comfort of home, while others time I need to escape my cozy surroundings and force myself to experience my writing from a different, and often less comfortable, locale.

Everything I write happens on a computer, and Microsoft Word has served me well over the years. I also usually cook up a pretty sophisticated spreadsheet that helps me track daily wordcounts, character names, scenes, plotlines, research notes, and any other information I may need outside of the actual manuscript itself. I keep Wikipedia open at all times to keep my thirst for quick-and-dirty research slaked throughout the process.

While I’m writing, I often use music to inspire me and eliminate distractions. Wordless musical scores work best: sweeping orchestral pieces, somber trance music, spirit-lifting soundtracks. Sometimes, however, I find that music isn’t the answer, and that silence is golden. But on my best days I can sit in a noisy restaurant and let the clamoring voices of customers wash over me without effect, because I’m so lost in the zone that the outside world can’t penetrate the world I’m crafting in front of me.

When I’m in that zone, what really matters is that I have hours (and hours…and more hours) to write every day. First thing in the morning, in between the classes I teach, before and after dinner, and then late at night before I collapse in exhaustion into my bed. Every hour of the day is a moment I could be writing, or thinking about writing, or fixing what I already wrote. It’s a consuming experience, which is why I’ve failed to ever keep it going beyond a month or two. But I promise, when someone offers me millions and millions of dollars to write books, I’ll stretch out my efforts to at least three months of the year.

…Okay, two-and-a-half. Maybe.

Is it time for my nap yet? All this excitement is wearing me out!

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