Monday, August 5, 2013

Method of Writing The Zealot

            Welcome back to the continuing journey of The Zealot.  Today’s topic is a big one, the methodology of writing, the mechanics of how we do it and when we do it.  All of us have our habits.  We know at what times of the day we have more energy.  When will the kids leave you alone?  At what time will that dog next door finally sleep?

            When I had everything in place and was ready to begin, I took stock of everything.  It was of a time when everyone did not have a laptop, especially me.  I had a tower the size of a tower.  You know, like the Tower of London.  We had to take out the window to get it in with a forklift.  I’m here to tell you, that Gateway was big.  When I left the house each morning, that computer did not come with me.

            Next, I knew my strengths and weaknesses.  As I have stated before, I’m an early riser.  I get up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day without an alarm.  The birds aren’t even chirping then.  I know.  I listen for them.  They’re telling me to shut up. 

My habits have changed a little over the years because I now have a laptop, but essentially the method of my writing is the same now as then.  I write something EVERY day.  These days I’m writing the final draft on The Zealot, and the first draft of a non-fiction book, as well as the blog of course, and trying to do some skits on comedy.  I also am sketching out some ideas on sequels to The Zealot, but the point is I write every day.  I need to.  I have to.  I love to.  Using a sports analogy, you don’t get better unless you practice, and man, do I need the practice.

For The Zealot, I would rise and go straight to the computer and start writing, whether it started at 4 a.m. or 5, it didn’t matter.  I began when I got up and continued until I had to get ready to leave for work, usually around 6:30.  At that point, I would print out the last two pages I had written so I could take them with me.  This would give me a flow in my head to begin from later.

I had a legal pad that I used to write on through the day.  Since I drove a cab, there were several times during the day where between runs I had fifteen minutes here or twenty minutes there.  I immediately picked up the legal pad and took up where I left off, immersing myself into the story, far away from the reality of my life.  Page after page I would go through the day.  The slower the business, the more I wrote.  The busier and more money I made, the less I wrote.

At the end of the day, when I got home, I tore the pages from the legal pad and walked inside, proud of what I had accomplished.  I always had in my head the movie ‘Finding Forrester’.  Sean Connery’s character mentored a teen and he told the teen for the first draft to forget everything, ‘just write’.  Another words, don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just write.  That is exactly what I did.  I just wrote.  I didn’t know where the story was going.  I let the characters tell me where they wanted to go because of not being concerned about the spelling and grammar and the crap.  I just let the story happen.  After I got home, I or my wife sometimes, because she felt sorry for my lack of speed, typed in what I had written during the day.  The next day the entire process repeated itself again.

Day after day this went on.  The first draft took me around six months to finish using this method.  As I said before, the first draft turned out to be a staggering 205,000 words.  Since I had never done anything like this before, I had no idea the size was incredibly huge.

For me, the method I used worked really well.  Now, as I work on two projects, an old one and a new one, with a laptop, using the same method, it seems very natural.  I love the early morning hours.  I am most awake early, always have been.  Even when we go on cruises, I’m the only guy out there on deck drinking coffee looking out at a black sea.  It’s peaceful for me.  We all have our productive times, and mine is early when the birds are asleep.

Next time, what the hell do I do with all this?


  1. I love to hear and share stories of how we approach that actual task of constructing a novel or a story! As we've said in some of our earlier posts, for most writers, creating a regular space and time for writing works best and allows us to really treat it as serious work instead of just fooling around. Great stuff!

  2. Funny, my most productive time is in the afternoon or evening, right after a productive day at work. I sit in front of my laptop and write. This time helps me unwind from the day, and I'm not much of a morning person.
    We all have our patterns.

  3. I always thought that I wrote better with a crushing deadline. I don't think that is entirely true, though. What I am finding is that I write better 'technically' under a deadline when at my science job, but I am terribly uncreative when I am writing fiction whule if the poetical and lyrical neurons in my brain drop their quill pens or screech the mic and recoil to their rooms.

    Curiously, my singing has the same effect on people.