Friday, November 20, 2009

In Search of the Writing Zone

I had an epiphany regarding my novel-writing today. I finally figured out why I write in fits and spurts, in weeklong marathons bookended by multi-week dry spells. It's why it took me fifteen years to write my first novel and why my second is such a slow process.

First, here are some links to posts where I've posted excerpts (please feel free to read and comment--a lot of people that read my blog now didn't when I posted those, and I'm always eager for feedback). First, here's an excerpt from my completed (but alas unpublished ... for the moment, anyway) first novel, Unbreakable. Speaking of Unbreakable, here's a post where I followed a trend other aspiring writers were exploring at the time--25 things about your novel. It was actually a very valuable experience for me, so if you have a WIP (work in progress), I strongly recommend that you give it a shot (and let me know if you do ... I'd love to read your posts on the subject). But anyway ... then, there are the first two chapters of my new novel (although I've reworked the beginning a bit so these aren't completely up-to-date, they're pretty close).

Okay, back to my epiphany. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm wordy. Like, very wordy. As in, I at times use five or six words when two will suffice. And I have an unhealthy attraction to both adjectives (bad) and adverbs (worse). And no, this paragraph is not an intentional example of what I'm talking about--it's just me. *Sigh*

I have to be completely immersed in the world I have created in order to write. It's necessary for me to be 100% in tune with the actions of characters, all events (because, as I tell my students, everything ends up connecting at one point or another), and the narrative voice to ensure a seamless continuity. To accomplish this--to find my writing zone, so to speak--I need to reread my entire piece if I've gone more than a week or so without writing. This is not a problem when your work is fairly short, but Unbreakable is over 600 pages, and Novel #2 (I have to name that poor baby) is at 35,000 words. Between being a single parent to two little girls whose company I enjoy more than anything and teaching full-time in a job I adore (but which requires a lot more work than the seven hour schoolday when you figure in grading, planning lessons, and reflecting on ways to always make your class a better learning experience for your students), finding the time to reread my WIP, to bring myself back there, is rather difficult.

Am I going about this the wrong way? It seems rather obvious that I am. If you are a writer, how do you stay in the zone? If you're not, perhaps you might have some thoughts on how you manage to fit in your passions : )

Oh, and keep clicking those ads ;) ... writing full-time and teaching part time would be a dream come true, and blogging seems to be the main writing I do these days (although I suspect I'll whip out 30-50 pages over Thanksgiving weekend ... it's all about time ...)