Tuesday, 21 July 2015

When's your witching hour?

So when do you write? Or, rather, when do you find the daily planets align and the words slip more easily from your imagination and onto the page?

Writing book two of The Darkest Hand trilogy has been a slog. I've not hidden the fact that it's been hard work. Previous novels have seemed to have flown much easier from out of me, their birth less painful, even if their conception perhaps took longer. So far it's taken ten months to write The Fallen and every month has presented its own difficulties and set backs.

I've now finished the first draft and am going back and editing the thing. I feel I'm on the final lap - of this stage of the journey - even though there's an awful long way still to go with agents and editors still to have their say. I'm pleased with the overall structure. It's a better book than The Damned. And thank goodness I think it is, because it's been hellish to get to this point!

During the writing of the book, I tried every technique in the book to avoid writer's block and give my writing and inspiration a new edge. And I found that writing at different times of the day, when the brain was functioning at a different level, produced different effects.

Here's a breakdown of the different hours in the day I tried writing The Fallen, and what worked for me.

3am to 5am - The most inspirational time of the day to write, I discovered. Your mind and imagination works on a completely different level, even if your body doesn't. Complete silence assures you that you're not going to be interrupted and the fact that you've risen from your bed at ungodly-o'clock to write seems to propel you on to attack the writing with gusto. Not so great when you have a day job to manage as well. This approached worked for me, but almost killed me as well.

8am to 9am - The sneaky hour before 'proper work' is usually my most profitable of writing sessions and the one I use the most. The ideas from your dreams are still vivid and fresh, the coffee has just kicked in, the opportunity of a new day lies before you and knowing you have just one hour to write helps focus the mind tremendously.

The Lunchtime Hour - Unlike the 'sneaky hour' before work, the lunchtime hour proved unworkable. Too many interruptions from work, too much of my mind on the day job, meant that this session was almost aways spent pushing paper around my desk and daydreaming rather than being put to good use on good prose.

5pm to 6pm - aka 'the part-timer'. Leaving work early to write seemed to give me a drive and a determination to make the most of my allotted hour, buoyed by the energy of the day jut gone and the fact I was leaving it behind to focus on my second even more inspiring job. Could never get a lot done in the hour, but what I did was often insightful and helped shape the book.

8pm - 10pm - There are some days when work has drained you and you simply cannot face writing. Sadly, you must and, on such occasions, I go for the shorter writing session, usually two hours long, ending in time for me to shut down and off and recharge for the next day. This is the workhorse of writing sessions, where you add bulk to your story, even if the words aren't usually the most inspirational.

8pm till late - These sessions come along once in a while, when everything aligns, everything flows and you feel you can write till dawn - and sometimes you do. They're rare treasures, diamonds in the rough, where your normal world is shut out as you shut yourself into your fantasy world and nothing can intrude. A slap in the face for your loved ones, who are banished from going near you, but a squeeze on the bottom for your novel which leaps, forward after such joyous sessions.

So when do you write? What works for you?

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