Writing before bed

The limited number of hours I get in the day to spend writing usually get tacked on the end, somewhere between 8 and 10. Which is fine, except when I get on a roll. Then, after I’m cajoled into retiring to bed with my laptop. I find myself in one of two places. The first place is where I’m just too tired to think. This is the where I am most often. Nothing for it, can’t be creative when I can’t keep my eyes open. The other thing that happens is I gain the kind of focus usually reserved for those college students cramming for an exam or putting the finishing touches on (actually doing) a project. I think about it as problem solver brain (more accurately known as being manic). I get so focused on solving a problem, I can’t rest until it’s done or I have a solution in mind that will work – I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Even though it makes for some rushed mornings and tired days, it’s this sort of manic focus that has gotten me as far as I have. No matter what is going on in my life, and there have been times when I’ve just not even been able to think about writing for weeks or months, I keep coming back to my story, and writing in general. I don’t know if this is one of the things that helps to make a good writer, but this sort of persistence is certainly going to help cross the finish line.

 

Start at the beginning

Such great advice. Not that anyone actually follows it. I’m certain I didn’t anyhow. The current fantasy project I’m working on started out as a single hand-written page concept for a science fiction story, my notes put it sometime in 2004. Although I had a character and some very basic ideas about his circumstances, I didn’t have a beginning. So, I went looking for one. The circumstances for my character were somewhat fantastical and so the history became fantastical, which eventually led me to a setting in which you would expect a high fantasy to occur. This process also introduced other characters and conflicts, which eventually eclipsed the original concept as the more interesting story. Even then, I still didn’t have a beginning. In the vain hope of a beginning coming to me, I spent years creating maps and languages, people and history. After that, I still didn’t have a beginning, so I started writing-up the back-stories of characters I’d developed for this world. Finally, in desperation, I did a global search and replace of a name in one of these back-stories just to see what might happen, and suddenly I had my beginning. The next few chapters came easily over the course of a couple of weeks. I felt really good about them too. Then, I asked several people to read over the work. Needless to say, the beginning, and the bulk of the subsequent chapters, only vaguely resemble what I started with, but the core of my story remains, and I’m still making progress.