Today’s guest blog comes from award-winning author Duke Southard. After retiring as a public school educator, Duke directed his energies to writing and has published three novels, one memoir, and a commissioned nonfiction history. He currently is working on a true crime novel and a memoir about growing up with a “Greatest Generation” father. His novel, Live Free or Die, the second in the Parker Havenot series, will be released this
Sixteen years ago, I ended a thirty-five year career in public education
and redirected my energies to a career as a writer. Initially, my writing
process was filled with rookie mistakes that I’m no longer making. I now
make new and much more interesting veteran mistakes.
Here are a few things I no longer do because they interfered significantly
with my writing process.
1. I never go back to the previous day’s keeper-pages. Nothing stops the
progress on a writing project faster, in my opinion, then revising and
editing what I thought was good enough to keep yesterday.
2. I don’t interrupt my writing to look at e-mails or surf the internet
unless I need to check something for the content of what I am writing.
3. I try, with varying degrees of success, to not allow everyday things to
get in the way of my writing time.
Here are a few things I do now that help my writing process.
1. I set a goal for the day. (e.g.minutes, hours, chapters, pages—something
realistic like three keeper-pages a day)
2. I write “end notes” (a Stephen King idea) when I’m finished so that
tomorrow I know exactly where I’m going without looking back at
3. I ignore those irritating little red and green lines when I look up at
the screen, telling me I misspelled something or have a grievous
grammatical error. (will fix them later)
4. I allow for thinking time, staring ahead as I imagine how an upcoming
scene to going to play out or how my dialogue is going to sound.
5. I do not stop thinking about the story or my characters when I stop
writing for the day. The plot and characters are part of my life and are
waiting helplessly for me to move things along.