Many of you told me you’re curious about my personal writing habits. I, too, am naturally curious of the writing habits of authors.
Stephen King has become a legend in his own time primarily because he writes great stories and novels. But he also generously reveals the secrets of his craft, and that has endeared him to countless constant readers who want to know the man behind the legend.
I recently took James Patterson’s Master Class on Writing to learn how Patterson works his magic. James was very forthcoming about his work habits. His course was a revealing experience and worth every dollar.
So let me share some of my work secrets with you. I won’t charge you a dime. But, please remember, what works for me may not work equally well for everyone.
Let me begin with my daily schedule. Today I have three novels in progress: Time, Sledgehammer, and Impossible. I also have three other novels I’m editing for pending publication: Deviants, Spilled Milk, and Mysterious Ways. I have three other novels in the opening chapter phase. I’ll get around to them next.
I am also working on a dozen short stories that are in various stages of completion. I switch between them as ideas come to me. Today I added a few new pages to 2 short stories that are developing nicely.
I began writing this morning at nine, shortly after feeding the three cats, washing my face and brushing my teeth, and fixing black coffee for me. I re-read and revised yesterday’s thousand words of Sledgehammer before beginning on today’s thousand new words. I broke at noon to read 205 new e-mails and make a few short posts to social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
At 1:30, I crafted a fresh post to one of my blogs, then I picked up reading where I left off yesterday on a Neil Gaiman book (Sandman: Overture) I promised to review before its November publication. I have fourteen other ARCs to read and review before their November publication dates. Reviewing books helps me to keep current with what’s being published in my chosen genres. I love to analyze what works and what doesn’t work in fiction. I write my book review as I read, switching between screens as necessary. I finished the review of Sandman: Overture and set it aside to reread tomorrow before sending it off to the publisher and posting excepts to GoodReads, Amazon, and my five blogs.
At 3 PM, I answered a telephone call from my daughter and we talked for a good half an hour. Tammy calls me every afternoon, but she keeps our calls relatively short because, as an author herself, she is cognizant of my work habits and deadlines. While talking with her on the phone, I checked for new e-mails and discovered my program schedule for Windycon includes two panels, one signing, and one reading.
Here is my November 14 Windycon schedule:
Saturday 10:00 Autographing: Hallway: P. Anderson, B. Garcia, M. Oshiro, K. Wynter
Saturday Noon: Beyond Adams and Pratchett: Junior A: What Humorous Science Fiction/Fantasy Do You Love? P.D. Anderson, A. Bentley, R. Garfinkle, C. Johns J. Nye
Saturday 2:00 Is World Building Necessary? Lilac C: Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and others created their worlds as their works evolved. Can that technique be used by modern authors whose readers have modern sensibilities? T. Akers, P. Anderson, R. Frencl, T. Trumpinski, Gary Wolfe (M)
Saturday 9:00-9:25 Reading: Cypress A: P. Anderson
At 4 this afternoon, I answered a phone call from Lizza regarding a review of Light she wanted to post on Amazon.
At 4:30, I began revising Time. At 6:15, I read several stories submitted for Stoker Long Fiction jury consideration. At 8:00 PM, I worked on Impossible.
At 10:00 PM, I went on Facebook and read today’s new posts while chatting online with Lizza. I posted a few comments to posts on my timeline, and I responded to e-mails that needed replies.
At midnight, I gave the cats a treat, ate a light midnight snack, planned out tomorrow, and went to bed with a book. All 3 cats joined me and demanded fifteen minutes each of petting. Then I read for pleasure until my eyes felt heavy and needed to close.
I write nearly everything on the laptop computer these days. I used to write exclusively on an upright manual typewriter and made revisions by hand on a typed manuscript, but I have used computers since the early-eighties (Smith-Corona Word Processor, Apple IIe, Apple SE, Macintosh, i-Mac, Windows) and I’m comfortable reading and writing and revising electronically. I prefer Microsoft Word to Scribner. I back up my documents to the cloud and to flash drives.
I do the same essential things in the same order every day, holidays and weekends included. I deviate to attend conferences and book signings, and Lizza and I spend two evenings a week watching movies on DVD or at the theater. We eat pizza or Italian beef or Subway sandwiches.
NEXT: I’m a pantser, and my first draft is my outline.