Spring has sprung and we are rolling out of the warmth of the south for the cooler climate of the north. Nearly three months in sunny Florida is not what we had planned on but just what we needed to acclimate to the new rig which I have been calling 'the beastie' recently. It also gave me time for get some writing done and to hone my writing process.
Every author has a different writing style and process. Some authors write slowly, picking over each and every detail while others race to the finish then go back through reordering plot elements and character driven scenes. I tend to be the latter of the two. I get the idea in my head and charge forward. Sometimes I know exactly where I'm going and other times I have a beginning and and end but no idea how we'll get there. People often ask a stream of questions about how, when, and where an author writes so today I'm going to answer some of them here.
1. Where do I write? I tend to write in a chair or on the couch in the camper. I use a laptop and it is not unusual for me to write while we drive. I'm still figuring out the most comfortable way to do that. I've got a pretty cushy seat and a big windshield to distract me. I guess my surroundings could be considered a distraction but usually the beautiful vistas I see tend to inspire me. I'm really looking forward to seeing new places this year.
2 How often do I write? I try to write every single day. That being said it doesn't always work out that way. There are many other things beside writing words that have to be done as an indie author. Silly little things like marketing, formatting, uploading, editing, ordering covers, coordinating multi author groups, and so much more. Still I try to get some words in everyday. I've been asked several times how do I make myself write so much? Simple, I insist on just fiver words. Yep FIVE, If I write five words I will write many more. I love a day where I can write five thousand words in a sitting. I have to push, I have to fight, I have to stick with it to meet that goal but that is why this is my job not just my hobby.
3. How do I write? It seems that my process, or the way I actually get my writing done is always changing. If possible I try to reach the 5k mark for words each day and then once the book is finished and I write THE END I give it a day or two then do a read through and edit. While I'm doing this I start my rewrite. I try to see the work with fresh eyes and think of what a reader doesn't know that I might about my setting, characters, situation, conflict and story as a whole. This means I add in details to clarify the details and make the characters and story more realistic. Sometimes this takes a day other times it takes days and then I find more things after the editor gets done with it. Once the editor has put a little, okay, so a lot of fixes in, I send the whole work to my lovely proof reader who finds little details we missed. Sometimes they even hit me up with some questions about the plot or they catch a minor confusion. and send notes. Yes, it is a long hard process but results in an end product that is far better than the draft I started with.
4. What comes next? After the book is all together in the altogether, I have to format it. There are some programs out there that will do this for you but since I work on a PC and not a Mac I don't have access to the most popular one of these. Fortunately, Amazon offers a program to help with formatting or I can use a word file or other acceptable file. Yes it is time consuming and sometimes tedious, but the book gets done. After that I upload it but setting up the ebook requires three pages of information. If I want paperbacks I have to do it all over again for those.
So that is how I do this job. It is a balancing act between 'real life' and writing all the time. This is why when we are actually on the road we take days off. Either days off to see things or hike or do some other activity. OR... days off from traveling that are dedicated to nothing but writing. Is it hard? Yes. Sometimes it is harder than other times but it is worth it to me. For me, success is gauged by the people who tell me that they loved a story. When someone tells me that one of my books made them laugh, cry, or growl with anger, I know I did something right.
What comes next? Right now we are in chilly Pennsylvania visiting my mom. This is a good trial for heading to Alaska this summer. It's still pretty cold up here and yet we are managing to stay toasty. As with most campers we have a propane gas heat system which works hard but works. We have done a few other things to help with retaining that heat as well. We have covered almost all of the windows with something called Reflectics. This foil covered bubble wrap type covering helps to keep heat in and cold out or heat out and cool in depending on your goals. With nights in the 20s I think we'll soon understand just how much propane it takes to keep us from shivering all night.