From August 2019
“The value of achievement lies in the achieving.”
I love the above quote. Albert Einstein is telling us to enjoy the journey, which is 99% of life. I take this strongly to heart as for me, writing is a trip. Yes, it’d be nice if a sold tons and could be a full-time writer, but I also know that the chances of this happening are very slim. It’s also true that I hope my work is liked, but again this is not the most important.
Andy Warhol said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
Writing is a question of doing; intent isn’t enough. Moreover, writing requires hard work. Based on my experience, you could divide the process into four phases: I find the first part, ‘creation’ to be the easiest; divergence, without inhibition. This consumes around 20% of the total and is the most fun. After that comes the seeming endless ‘improvement’. This is around 70% of effort. The last 10% is applying the editor’s ‘corrections’ and ‘preparing for publication’. Of course, the whole process is iterative, slowly whittling out flaws and ironing out irregularities.
What I’ve also experienced is that, for me at least, there is no one way of writing a book. My first novel DEATH COMES TWICE started as I discovered the freedom of fiction. I wrote one murder, then another, and another. The difficulty was bringing these seemingly disparate stories together to form a cohesive whole, and ‘filling the blanks’ to ensure a smooth read.
DEATH IS A CHALLENGE, my second book, was much more straightforward. I wrote this more or less from front to back, only writing the finale at the very end.
A dream actually formed the basis for my third book, DEATH IS A RIDDLE. When I woke, I spent two hours writing the end-scene before I went back to sleep. The rest of the writing was a path to that end-scene.
For all accounts, varying frames of mind determined whether I worked on story structure, text review, spelling/grammar or applying creativity. But for all parts of the process, it takes concentration and graft to get things going. Don’t think it will happen all by its self…