I have to laugh when someone looks at my list of books written over the past few decades and jumps to the conclusion that I am incredibly disciplined.
Okay, as a pilot, I AM disciplined to a reasonable degree, but life around our household does not include watching me goosestep to my office each morning at precisely 5 am with coffee in hand only to emerge 8.5 hours later having produced exactly 10.2 pages. I wish I was capable of such Terminator-like concentration, but I’m just as likely to address the computer with literary intent at 8, or even 10, or sometimes in the afternoon or next Thursday.
Thursdays are good!
Sometimes, to be frank, it’s like the story of the famous New York Times columnist back in the 30’s who ran totally dry of ideas one morning. He’d been taught that if it ever happened, he should at least write the word “The” on his typewriter. So he types “The,” puts on his coat, spends the day drinking in a nearby tavern, and at 5 returns to the newsroom to type “…Hell with it!” before going home.
I’m told it’s a true story, but I wasn’t there!
For me, the one concession to force-marched efficiency is that when in writing phase, I try diligently to produce 10 good pages per day, and I do lay out a projected writing schedule over two to three months, and I do log my production (in terms of good pages) each evening. Other than that, I’m, well, infected by the writer’s curse like every other author.
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So, what’s the writer’s curse? It’s the dream of every spouse because, before you start a major writing project (and many times during the writing), every tiny domestic chore and administrative duty you can possibly find takes on larger-than- life importance and demands to be completed before you’re licensed to write a word. Lawns get mowed, gutters get cleaned, pictures get straightened on the wall, long-forgotten back-burner tasks in the office become critical, and pretty much anything that can be used as an excuse NOT to write is tackled…inclusive of taking the cat for a walk. No kidding!
Think of the last time you saw the family dog whirl around about a dozen times before finally laying down. That’s your average author, moi included.
Oh, sure, eventually all the tasks are completed and, like the sheriff played by Cleavon Little in that classic movie Blazing Saddles, you find yourself holding a gun ON yourself to force yourself to march to the laptop. (Of course, Cleavon’s reason for holding a gun on himself was markedly different, but the effect is the same).
In the final analysis, though, writing a feature-length thriller of, say, 120-thousand words, has its own innate discipline and momentum, simply because, even though I’m the author, I dying to know what happens, too!