There are many ways to write a novel. That much has been made quite clear on TKZ and in the comments thereto.
Some outline, then write. Some write and don’t outline. Many do it a bit of both.
Not many do it the Dean Koontz way. I shake my head in wonder at his method and output. In Dean Koontz: A Writer’s Biography, he describes it thus:
I go through a manuscript, slow page by slow page. Every page may be revised as few as twenty times or more than a hundred. Then at the end of every chapter, I print out and read it, because it looks different in hard copy. I pencil the changes in and then go back and include them. Then I go on to the next chapter.
Of course, Mr. Koontz has been a full-time writer virtually his whole career, and has a work ethic second only to the harvester ant.
The rest of us mere mortals must find our own way. Especially those with what Brother Gilstrap calls “a big-boy job.”
For me, the daily writing quota has been the key. For most of my career the goal has been 6,000 word per week (I take one day off to recharge).
Early on, I’d sit down at my keyboard and type for as long as it took to reach my quota. Some days the words flowed. Other days it was like extracting moisture from a cactus.
Then one day I read something about exercise that helped change things. I always thought the benefits of aerobics was to do a certain minimum—say, thirty minutes straight of walking or jogging. But I discovered that three stints of ten minutes was just as good.
I liked that because I tend to get bored when walking, even if I’m on the treadmill watching a movie or listening to a book.
So now I try to get ten minutes of walking in early in the morning, to make twenty minutes later more doable.
And the same applies to my quota.
Even before I walk, I try to get some writing done. I sprint. I go for what I call a “Nifty 350.” Sometimes it’s just 250 (that number is important to preserve the rhyme scheme. I don’t know how to rhyme, say, 243, except with “afternoon tea.”)
Anyway, whatever I do makes the quota easier to complete later in the day.
I also carry my trusty AlphaSmart with me when I’m out. I may stop in at Coffee Bean and do more words there, come home, and do more. If I have to wait in an office, I peck out some words. (Young people always ask me what that is. When I explain that it’s just for text and runs forever on AA batteries, they’re somewhat astonished. I then tell them about rotary phones, manual typewriters, and Ed Sullivan. And words they will never hear, like, “Check your oil, sir?”)
Another benefit of writing sprints is that in between sessions my boys in the basement are working on the project. They send up notes for me to incorporate when I get back to writing. All they ask is that I send down some coffee and the occasional apple fritter.
Intentional writing sprints can serve you just as well. A friend of mine has written a several excellent legal thrillers on his commuter train ride to and from the city where he practices law.
So now I ask: Have you ever considered making writing sprints a regular practice? What is your method for producing the words (and I don’t mean by asking AI to do it for you!)