And, believe me, I’ve tried.
I bought a copy of Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour some years ago, and I’ve mostly stared at the text in abject confusion as he’s outlined his process. Mostly because it’s so baffling to me.
I’m not going to question that it works for lots of people, including him. After all, he’s a much more prolific writer than I am. But that is not the way my brain is wired.
I guess you can argue that I need to rewire my brain, but seriously. His process sounds great if you’re transcribing something, copying it over: you hyperfocus for a period of time, starting with ten minutes and working up, and you just type.
But my novel writing process involves a lot more percolating. Hesitating over a dialogue tag. Looking up the lyrics for a modern-day Norwegian death-hymn or researching a symphony hall in Denver.
It’s frustrating as fuck, sometimes. There are occasions where I get into the zone and can knock out 2,000 words. But, mostly, it’s just days where I feel like I’ve written a lot, until I check the word count.
That felt like a thousand words. It was actually 380.
Fuck me with a spork.
I guess there’s a lot to be said for differing processes. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that no two novelists are going to have the same method, the same path, the same routine. We’ve all got to develop our own process that works for us.
But that’s the key: one that works for us. I would much prefer to have a process that let me crank out high-quality writing at the rate of a novel a month — okay, maybe a novel every other month. The faster I crank out a great novel, the faster I can get representation and a book deal and a career.
In writing as in walking, I am too god-damn slow. I’ve been working on The Grave Thereafter for over a year now. And I’ve done a lot of character development and story development. I’ve probably written a good quarter of a million words. Still don’t have a finished first draft.
I want to have faith that this will eventually lead to a good book. But I would also like to have a shelf at Barnes & Noble filled with good books with my name on this cover. And I ain’t getting any younger.