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Writing Wednesdays: Writing process

Was just talking to good friends (one a writer, another a reader) about the writing process and realised that my first draft involves tricking the monkey mind into focusing long enough to carry the thread of a story. I feel like a mother distracting a small child with shiny toys, so its mouth falls open and I can spoon in the mashed-up food…and once in a while I walk about tearing my hair because the child is whimsical and does as he pleases.

Have been writing a piece once in a while based on prompts, and all I need to figure out now is how to sustain the momentum for tens of 1000s of words. As Piers Anthony said, “One reason I don’t suffer Writer’s Block is that I don’t wait on the muse, I summon it at need.” Indeed.

I’m writing more or less everyday, trying to be as disciplined as possible in my drafts, but sustained writing has eluded me so far.
All suggestions welcome.
Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • westcobich says:

    Hope you're writing and all is well! We are all impatiently awaiting Spring here, to infuse us with its renewal. So much rain and cold and drear. Maybe that's why I'm reading so much in any spare time?!

  • M Pax says:

    I started small – a page a day or so and worked my way up. Some days 'the groove' sets in and I go like gangbusters. Most days, no.

    A friend of mine bought an egg timer, sets it for 20 minutes then goes and does whatever. Then comes back and repeats.

    I think it was Piers Anthony that wrote the Isle of Women. Was it? I really enjoyed that book.

  • Yankee Girl says:

    I write every day, but I don't make myself do it for a period of time. I just write as much as I can and feel moved to write. Sometimes I only write a few pages, other days I will write a few chapters. I used to give myself deadlines and goals but it made my writing suffer.

  • I hear ya! Talli's right, just get the words down. If you get bogged down in editing, frustration wins! Good luck!

  • Talli Roland says:

    Set a doable word count for the day, and don't let yourself step away or stop the session until you've accomplished it. It's the only thing that works for me!

    You don't have to be Shakespeare – just get the words down on the paper. You can edit them later. Good luck!

  • I work at a fairly steady pace and can write a 75-80K first draft in five or six months. But I don't worry about word count when I'm writing; what I focus on is finishing the scene. It's easy to concentrate on a scene and work from end-to-end with that unit of measure. When I'm done with one scene I move on to the next and thus drag myself forward through the length of the whole narrative. I don't know if you do any outlining; I work from a one-page master outline of the novel and I also have short-term outlines of a couple of scenes at a time going when I'm actually writing prose. The idea is to always be working on a scene and always have an idea for what the next scene is going to be. Forward momentum sort of builds itself. And I guess I don't so much believe in inspiration. Or, rather, I try to be inspired every time I write, as a state of being rather than inspiration-as-an-event. If you know what I mean. Mostly I think it's just getting into the habit of being clear-headed and writing on a daily basis.

  • I understand the lure of distraction–I'm ADD like that, but as you said, it's about discipline. I set a goal of 1000 words or a full chapter edit a day before I do anything else. If I feel like doing more, I will, but I'll end the day with something done. It's a good gauge, too. If you're writing a 60k novel, you write 1000 words a day and you're done in 60 days! Worry about the edits later. Just write.

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