It’s been a long time since I’ve managed to finish a book I was writing. I have eight done and I’m working on 9, 10, and 11. Since they all tie together in a way, I swap between them due to timeline overlaps and trying to keep all the events straight and in order.
As a quick note, I don’t outline my books – I don’t believe in that (but if it works for you, keep doing it). I write as the story comes to me. Sometimes it’s fast and furious, sometimes it’s trickle. Since I quit smoking in 2007, it’s been a trickle. It doesn’t help that my muse, a mischievous elfin girl with silver eyes, smokes like a chimney whenever she shows up to encourage my writing (and while she’s not real in the sense of flesh and blood, she’s real enough for me).
Other writers may understand the need for ritual when it comes to their writing.
I could write anywhere that I could easily grab a cigarette.
Sit down and open laptop. When working on a continuing piece, read the last two pages to find myself again. Then close my eyes and picture my muse sitting down at the table with me (or sitting in another chair in the room if I was writing at my desk). Light a cigarette and a take a long drag. Exhale and watch the smoke drift through the air while the story cranked away in my head while I smoked that cigarette.
Once the cigarette was gone, square my shoulders, sit up close my eyes again and “wink” at my muse who would grin back at me.
Open my eyes and start writing. I would write 1000 words a day, or for an hour – whichever came 2nd. If I couldn’t get to 1000 words by the end of an hour, keep going until I did. If I reached a thousand words in the first twenty minutes, keep going until I hit an hour.
I have never believed in writer’s block, but when I would get to place in the story that needed some extra time, I would stop writing, take out a cigarette and smoke it while allowing the story to untangle itself in my head. Never did I have to smoke more than two cigarettes in a row to find the thread, and most of the time I was writing again before I’d finished my first.
Now when I get to a pause like that, I don’t know what to do with my hands. seven and half years later, and I still fidget, and get up and walk around, mutter to myself, sit back down and look to my muse, stand up again.
I could still do 1000 words a day, but it would take me hours that I just don’t have with a teenager, a two year old, another on the way, and both my wife and I working full time jobs. It could take me that hour I set aside for writing just to untangle part of the story and so I may only get one-hundred words down on the page before I have to go back to family matters.
Every day I want a cigarette just to get back that part of myself I feel I’ve lost. To find my way around the pauses more quickly.
Every day I still choose not to.