It’s Saturday night and I’m feeling a little lonely since I’m more or less in quarantine. My sister, who I spend a lot of time with, has come down with hand, foot and mouth disease. I know, I didn’t think grownups could get it either. Turns out they can, and she has.
But seeing as how I was around her several days last week and early this week when she was already contagious and didn’t know it, I’m subject to come down with it myself. Spreading it around to friends and family along with random strangers at the mall, restaurants, movies, yard sales and other public places doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do.
So, I’m staying in and keeping myself to myself until I’m sure I don’t have this dread disease. Frankly, though, since I started working at home writing books, Saturday is just another day to me in many ways. So I’ve managed to bear up under my enforced isolation fairly well and by my calculations, should be in the clear by Monday.
The Power of Positive Thinking
But, we won’t go there. I’m determined to practice positive thinking until my temperature shoots up, my throat gets raw and I break out in a painful rash all over my hands, feet and mouth. This is what happened to my sister and explains how this crud got its name.
But anyway here I am, so I thought I’d write a blog post that deals with what several readers have asked me: What is the process I use in writing a book? How do I start? Do I outline every book and lay it out chapter by chapter or scene by scene? What do I do all day? Do I have a self assigned minimum hours of work every day, Monday through Friday?
Q & A About Writing a Book
So, moving right along, do I have a certain process I use to write a book? No. I don’t have anything even remotely resembling a process. In fact, it’s all pretty haphazard, really. I’d like to say that my office is showroom neat and tidy, my work area policed daily to remove any extraneous items and that I might be found sitting at my desk with my back ramrod straight in perfect posture and so on and so forth. Sadly, this is not the truth. The area around my computer and monitor is often littered with anything from used Kleenexes to banana peels and half eaten candy bars to any number of other sorts of clutter. I’m not proud of it, but must wear the shoe because it fits.
How do I start writing a book? Usually, I have the germ of an idea that initially revolves around a hero and heroine. That’s it. I start by writing the first sentence. If I hit the wall that early in the game, it may be days or even weeks before I’ve cogitated on the new book enough to move past the first sentence and on into at least the first chapter. Sometimes I scrap that first sentence and start all over again. There’s nothing orderly or scientific about how I begin a new book. Do I laboriously outline a book, jotting down the action and even some of the dialogue? No. I tried that once and it stressed me to no end to try and stay within the confines of that blasted outline. Characters will lead the way if I let them. They’ll move the story along where it needs to go. It’s a natural progression that works much better for me than a rigid outline.
As to what I do all day and whether or not I have X amount of words that I feel compelled to write every day—no.
After all, part of the wonderful-ness about working from home and being your own boss is working when you want to and feel like it. I’m pretty self-motivated because no workee no eatee, or no power or water or internet access or other necessities of life. But I’m quite lenient with myself about when I work and when I don’t. Some days I work in my pajamas or a comfy old sweatshirt and pants. Some days I get dressed in real clothes but not dressed up, if you know what I mean. Do I put on makeup and do my hair just so and the whole enchilada to work here at home?
No. I have writer friends who swear they get up every morning and fix up just like they were going to work in an office somewhere. That’s perfectly fine if that’s what floats their boat but for yours truly—ugh. If I’m staying at home all day, working or otherwise, wearing a bra or shoes or any pants with zippers just isn’t on my agenda.
I start working after I drink a cup of coffee and browse the net for awhile, check my email, touch base with Facebook, stop in one of my favorite deal forums like Slick Deals, call and talk to my mom, straighten up the house, do some laundry, take care of Charlie and Goldie, my dog and cat, etc. etc. etc. There are always things to do before I buckle down to work and if I don’t do them, I can’t focus. So I’ve learned just to go with the flow and start my work day when I get around to it. I realize that if I claimed to have this fantastically organized schedule that included my perfectly regimented writing process of producing a new book, it would make me sound much more interesting.
But there you have it. In the words of the immortal Popeye, I yam what I yam.
Hope you’re having a great Saturday night!