Isn't this tee shirt great? I need one of these, but I'd like mine to say, "Don't piss me off or you'll end up in my next picture book!" Now that could get ugly! Some of you know I'm working on a story right now. Most of what I write are picture books geared towards kids ages 4-8, but have written a few middle grade novels. None have been published yet, but I'm still working on that. I was in the middle of writing a MG story recently when I had a new idea come to mind. So, I put the other on hold to begin the new one. I started on July 30th and I've been working on it about a week. At my last check, I was around 19,532-words and it's been coming along great. However, I have a few questions for those of you who write ...
1. Do you concentrate more on getting a rough draft down first, or do you edit along the way?
I have a habit of editing along the way and I know that slows me down a lot. I'll sit down to write, only to spend a couple of hours editing the last chapter. Of course, I add stuff along the way, so it's technically writing. I'm not sure if editing as I go is good or bad. The thought of having an entire manuscript written in a rush terrifies me when I think of having to go back and edit it all at once. It's really hard for me not to edit as I write because I keep changing stuff or come up with something new to add.
2. Do you try to keep your chapters around the same length, or does that not matter just as long as you finish the scene or get your point across?
Writing novels is still new for me, so I don't know if how I do them is good, bad, helpful, or what. For the two I've completed, I set out a certain word count as my initial goal. Then after creating an outline and deciding how many chapters I needed, I divided the numbers. That gives me a goal to work towards. Of course, after editing and coming up with new things to add (or take out), the word counts aren't exact. However, I've found it's helpful to have that as a goal. Does anyone else do that? Or am I just weird?
3. Do you base your characters on specific people you know?
A lot of my characters are based on people I know, often more than one person within the same character. What's frightening is how much *I* am in some of them. Again, I don't know if that's good or bad. Part of me sees it as good -- like a bizarre fantasy of someday being interviewed about my book. Silly, I know. But another part of me finds it terrifying -- like opening myself up and exposing all my secrets. When I read back some of the stuff I've written, I see a lot of myself in the characters. I honestly can't tell if that's a bad thing, or if it's just my voice coming out. It's scary, that's all I know!
4. How do you organize your time in between work, family, home, etc.?
I'm terrible at this when it comes to both writing AND reading. If I get a book that really interests me, I won't do anything until it's finished. That's good and bad. Good because it's obviously a really good book. Bad because I don't accomplish anything else. I might as well add sad too because I usually read books in one (or two, maybe) sittings and I'm always bummed when I finish. It's like chocolate -- it never lasts long enough. I find I do this with writing too, whether it be a picture book or a novel. It consumes my time and everything gets pushed to the back burner. Of course, it's still summer and I am technically on vacation, so I guess that's okay. Once school starts up, things will be different. What do you do? Do you give yourself a certain amount of time, or simply write when you can?
5. And finally, how do you keep your back from hurting when you're spending so much time BIC (butt-in-chair) writing?
Most of you know I have problems with my back. It's caused from sitting too long at one time. Every few months I'll wake up in the middle of the night with horrible back spasms. I have to take a combo of 3 medications just to help me relax enough to sleep. I'm usually okay the next day. I thought for awhile it was caused from poor posture while using my laptop. I don't sit at a traditional desk much and I move around from various chairs, to the bed, to the table, etc. But right now, this story is so fresh in my mind and I want to get it all down. It's really playing havoc with my back. I know I need to get up and move around more. I've been exercising on my TreadClimber, but that doesn't work back muscles. I also have a Shiatsu massage pad that I put in my chair when it gets real bad. It makes me cuckoo though because now is the time I have to write before school starts, but if I write too long, I pay for it dearly with back pain. Do you stretch, do yoga, cuss at the cat, or what?
Anyway, I'm going to get working on my story now. Thanks for taking the time to read this very long post, if you made it down all this way. Don't forget about the contest for The Marshmallow Man below. I won't pick a winner until tomorrow's blog, so there's still time to enter! Thanks, again!