It is remarkable that I remembered today is Sunday, the day I blog. I am coming down to the wire to finish the book I have due on or before the first of July. It will be a close thing, largely because I was too sick to write for almost ten days and got behind.
I was listening to an interview with John Grisham on one of the morning news shows last week. He says to write a page a day no matter what. That’s okay if you include the weekends, but five days a week is only 260 pages a year. Not acceptable. I try to do at least five a day, and at least one weekend day. But not always. I am easily seduced away from my computer, usually by a book. Last week a book I had pre-ordered and forgotten about showed up on my Kindle. I hate that! Who could NOT open a Christmas present on Christmas? No me. I have to dip in, and once dipped in, I am usually caught—if the book is a good one. And it usually is.
It would be interesting to know which of you writers out there writes a continuous manuscript, straight through start to finish. Or do you write scenes that are not necessarily contiguous? That’s what I do. When I am truly bored, stuck, or just generally disgusted, I write a highly emotional scene to get me past the closed door. And I always know what the last scene will be. But not always who the killer is. I’ve been fooled by a character several times. I know who the killer is planned to be, but by the time I get to the point where he is revealed, I know the character I have written would never kill somebody—well, not in that way at least. Thank heaven, there’s always another character standing there all ready to take the blame—I just didn’t know I was setting him or her up at the time.
I have enormous respect for writers who write extensive outlines that constrain their characters to do just what they’re told. Mine never do. They start off listening to me, but somewhere along the line they get fractious and off they go in a direction that I had not planned for them to take. My friend Pat Potter does the same thing. She thinks, and I tend to agree with her, that our way makes a more interesting book. But the outline-makers would probably disagree.
The main thing—one age a day or five, or outline or not—is to write. Even if it’s the line of K’s that everybody gets when they fall asleep over their computer. K’s can be fixed. Blank screens can’t. Hang in there and wish me luck on my deadline. I intend to make it with time to spare.