When Not Writing is Writing

“No one can really teach you how to write a novel. You learn by doing it.”

Here’s my shameful secret: I’ve been working on JEZILLA for almost two years and I’m not even halfway done. I’ve had lots of stops and starts and re-writes and diversions into other projects along the way. At this rate, George R. R. Martin will be finished before I am. (BTW, Neil Gaiman thinks that’s okay.)

No one can really teach you how to write a novel. You learn by doing it. Two years after I had the idea for JEZILLA, I know a lot more about writing than when I started. From a technical standpoint, the novel has required a great deal of research on pacing and plot structure and worldbuilding. But I also have a clearer vision for my characters and a better understanding of my world. You can’t just pull that stuff out of thin air. Sometimes you have to let ideas gestate until they’re fully formed.

Whenever I hit a snag on the book, I get off the keyboard and just think about the characters. Who are they? What do they want? What’s some cool stuff I could make them do? As I’m falling asleep at night, I picture them going about their lives. What are they up to?

Sometimes the process yields more questions than answers, but questions are good too. If I’m asking them, it’s likely that my readers will be as well.

I had a major setback in September due to some health isues and I lost forward momentum on the book. But now that things are settling down, I’ve been re-thinking my writing strategy. Until now, I’ve done most of my writing on weekends or during breaks at work. It adds up to only a few hours a week. Maybe I can speed things up by talking instead of typing.

I purchased a USB headset microphone and configured Windows Speech Recognition for dictation. Maybe I can just talk about a scene, lay down the broad strokes, and then go back and fill in the gaps. I’ll let you know how that works.

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