Duke Southard

Author, Educator, Lecturer

My Writing Process

This is a new category for posting on my blog. I am hoping others of my writer friends will join in this discussion. It could be mutually beneficial for all! I’m starting it off with some ideas that work for me and would love to hear from others with ideas that work for them.

What a difference sixteen years makes!

For the last ten years of my teaching career, I was up and exercising at 5 A.M. every morning and on the road to school by 6:15.A.M. When I retired in 1998 and began a second career as a writer, I continued the same regimen except that instead of beginning the day with exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle in the basement, I went into our small third bedroom and started to write what I was sure would be the next great American novel. This process was quite productive but initially filled with many rookie mistakes which I am no longer making. I now am making new and more interesting veteran mistakes.

Here are some things I no longer do because they interfered significantly with my writing progress.

  1. I never go back to the previous day’s keeper pages. Nothing stops the progress on a writing project faster, in my opinion, than revising and editing what I thought was good enough to keep yesterday.
  2. I don’t interrupt my writing to look at e-mails or surf the internet. (unless I need to check something for the content of what I am writing)
  3. I try hard not let everyday things get in the way of my writing time. (taking out the trash should be done before or after, not during)

Here are a few things I do now that help my writing progress.

  1. I set a goal for the day. (in minutes, hours, chapters, pages- something realistic like three keeper pages a day)
  2. I write “end notes” (a Stephen King idea) when I’m finished for the day so that tomorrow I know exactly where I’m going without looking back at yesterday’s work.
  3. I ignore those irritating little red and green lines when I look up at the screen, telling me I misspelled something or have a grievous grammatical error. (will fix them later)
  4. I allow for thinking time, staring ahead as I imagine how an upcoming scene is going to play out or how my dialogue is going to sound. (believable events? do people really talk like this?)
  5. I do not stop thinking about the story or my characters when I stop writing for the day. (the plot and characters are part of my life and are waiting helplessly for me to move things along)

I believe that writers need to write something every single day, even if it is only a paragraph. The craft of writing seems to me to require that we write.

By the way, I am no longer at the computer at 5 A.M.!

Duke

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I'm Duke Southard, author, educator, and lecturer.

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