Notes on Writing a Novel

Photos: Courtesy the author
Photos: Courtesy the author

Photos: Courtesy the author

Each morning I confirm my purpose as a writer with a ritual: My perpetually open bedroom blinds serve as a visual alarm. Checking the weather and tides app on my phone help me determine if the day’s exercise will be rowing or hiking.

Reviewing news alerts confirm that life still exists outside of my door. Only sensitive correspondence that has come overnight gets an immediate response. Making my bed keeps me from crawling back into it. I used to consider these activities procrastination, now I call them clearing the deck. They set the tone for the day. 

Sipping coffee, straightening up, speaking to whomever’s in the house, and exercising are my swift commute to work. Writing my first novel—better known as learning to write a novel—requires maintaining an intimate connection with my keyboard for a minimum of four hours a day. It’s not always the same time or place, but I write by schedule, not by feeling.

My computer’s voice helps me edit. Typing while standing at my kitchen counter rescues my back and stimulates my metabolism. If I write myself into a corner, I either turn on or off wordless music. Even when highly literate, a friend’s feedback on my writing that is still in process, can prove disastrous.

Being away from my desk is almost as important as being at it. A phone notes app or reporter’s notebook captures fleeting ideas. Rings and dings are silenced.

Audiobooks give me a sense of the rhythm of the written words by other authors. I watch television and read mainly for research. Talking with other writers and seeing other artists’ work helps, as well.

An independent editor sent from writer’s heaven, who is consummate, concise and astute, is working to ‘get me there.’