For all my prodigious output as a blogger, reviewer, commenter, etc., the amount of fiction I produce is rather pathetic. Some of that is sheer laziness. Some of it is flailing around trying to figure out what I’m good at and what I enjoy. Some of that is the simple (most likely critic-inspired) fact that I’m a better reviser than drafter. But some of that is the way my life is organized and how I work as a writer — I really need an uninterrupted half hour (or even better full hour) in order to crank out a major chunk of text (for me that equals 250 words or more). That just doesn’t happen very often.
Lately, I’ve been writing more. Still at a snail’s pace — 300-500 words once or twice a week. But that’s huge for me. So what happened?
- I bought a huge pack of mini legal pads at Costco. I devote one pad to each story or essay.
- I decided that even if I am a discovery writer, I need a brief outline. It’s an obvious conclusion to come to, but it was Dan Wells (another discovery writer) that really convinced me to give it a try.
- I bought a Uniball 207 that allows me, a left-hander, to write smoothly and without smudging while on the bus.
These three factors mean that one morning or two per week, I write during my commute. Here’s the proof — one mini legal pad with the outline taped to the front and about 2/3 filled:
What this means, though, is that less of my bus time will be devoted to reading. For all the gung-ho writers out there this may seem like not such a big deal. Besides, I still have the ride home, which means at least 45 minutes of reading per work day. That’s a lot for most people. But it still feels like a sacrifice to me. Instead of three books a week, it’ll be one, which is probably why I’m still fighting this system and not writing every single morning.
So here’s my point: figure out where you have time and what you physically need to be able to write. I’ve tried writing on the bus before. But my other systems led to juggling too much paper and illegible handwriting (or waiting until I can spend money on a netbook or other device). The actual mundane system seems pretty lame when it’s put in words, but who cares — so far it’s working.
And here’s my other point: write more; read less.