What Is Your Writing Routine?

Winter Boy and Jo Joe, novels by Sally Wiener Grotta

In an interview for Ivory Owl Reviews, the first question Rhiannon asked was about my writing routine. Here’s the answer I gave her:

“Whenever possible, I try to devote my mornings to writing, though life often intervenes.

“The first draft of any novel or short story is me telling myself a story, listening carefully to the characters who become my constant companions. I am often surprised by a plot twist or sudden veering within the dialog, but I hold tight and enjoy the ride.

“In the second draft, I start to take control over the story and the characters. Often, this is when I introduce sharper, more delineated tension, and fill out the details that give depth.

“In the third draft – well, I usually lose count of the number of rewrites; it’s often in the dozens, if not scores. I work and rework the prose and plot, sculpting the personalities and histories, refining and polishing the story, while making sure every word I use is the one I really meant.

Writers are often divided into two camps:those who struggle with rewrites and those who love the challenge and satisfaction of rewriting. I’m definitely in the latter camp.

“After I’m finished with the nth draft and feel it’s ready, I turn it over to my editor, who will mark it up unrelentingly. I’ve been very lucky in my editors over the years, and have learned to depend on them to help me make sure that any of my work that is published is something we’ll both be very proud of.

“Then I take it back and rework through several more drafts, after which I return it to the editor and then the copy editor. Back and forth we go until we’re satisfied.

“The entire process can take years. And when it is over, there’s a hole in my heart where those characters had lived with me every moment of my days and nights. I’ve learned that I must have another story ready to work on right away, or I suffer from author’s postpartum depression. That’s one of the reasons I always have more than one story in various stages. Well, and the fact that I can’t help myself. When a story takes hold of me, I have to write it.”

To read the rest of the interview, please click here.

I’m curious, what is your writing routine? Please comment here or on the original interview (link above). Thank you.

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