Monday, September 19, 2011

My Writing Pattern: the Kamikaze Approach

So here's the deal. I write books fast. The no-holds-barred, gonna-write-this-draft-or-die-trying approach. I know other writers do it even faster, like 12 hour days writing. I'm not that intense, but basically, I write first drafts of books in a month. This was a habit I developed when I was in grad school and only had time for creative writing on summer or Christmas breaks.

After not having been in Writing Mode for awhile, it takes me about a week to get back into the groove. I start out by telling myself I only have to write 1,000 words a day. Which lasts for a few days until I start getting antsy about how tiny the over-all word count is. I know I'm starting a book that needs to be around 60-70k words for the first draft, and when I only have a paltry 6-8k, I feel the weight of all that has yet to be written.

I have the patience of gnat. I think that's really what my crazy drafting habit is about. I get to 10k and I start thinking in fractions. Okay, I have 1/6th done. So then I start writing 2k in the morning, and another 2k in the evening. The thing is, it's gets more and more comfortable. I don't have to fight as much resistance when it's become habit. It's daunting at first, but eventually, I get into the groove of: I'm going to sit down and write. I'm going to write through this scene and this scene.

Oh, and I'm stubborn as hell. That's probably why I just take the No Matter What I WILL Write Each Day approach (at least during the drafting phase). I have a big outline for the whole book before I start, but each day I sketch out the basics (goal, conflict, climax) of the scene I'm writing. If the blank page starts giving me resistance, then I start writing w/ pen and notebook. If I'm really not feeling it even then, I skip to a scene I'm excited about and can have passion writing (though this is a last ditch solution, I usually force myself to go through chronologically). But there is so NO stopping until I have a book!!!

I imagine we'll be getting lots of tips about how to fight resistance this week as we all talk about our writing neurosis, ahem, I mean, patterns. ;D


Heather Anastasiu is the author of GLITCH (St. Martin's Press/Summer 2012) Glitch in three words: Dystopia, Superpowers, & Love :) Check out my website for more news and updates.


  1. Thank you. Seriously, this is what I'm trying to force myself to do. Now that I see someone else doing it I will get moving. I am also stubborn and a bit competitive. ;)

  2. I write the same way. I'm at the stage of feeling weighted down by everything that has to be written, and once I hit the middle, I'll be fine. Just writing the beginning and realizing that I have 52k more words to write is weighing me down.

  3. Rain - yay, let any stubborn and competitiveness you've got work FOR you!

    Ashelynn, yep, being weighed down by all the unwritten words can totally be daunting. Jane Yolen's "Butt In Chair" continues to be the best writing advice I've ever heard :)