East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Writing a lot – how I do it


This is the sort of post that nobody cares about, so don’t feel guilty if you think it might be better to just stop here and go check some better blog.
Really, I’m cool.
Fact is, I’m writing a lot, and a lot of different things, these days, and sort of like it felt nice writing down a few ideas.
It’s not a matter of inspiration, is more a matter of time management.


As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m writing the first draft of a novel, putting together a large gaming project, revising two short stories and writing a third.
Plus blog posts, and a good simulation of a normal life.
So, here’s how I’m doing it1.

The novel, aka Matter/Energy2 – no less than 1500 words per session, no less than two sessions per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. In the next days, the minimum word-count will slowly rise to 2000, and then to 2500.
It’s a first draft, so I’m writing everything down without too much attention to form. The idea is to pour everything on the page, and get rid of it.
If I’m not going nowhere, I can stop and move to some other project.

The gaming project, aka GreyWorld – I work in chunks. Right now I’m writing the fluff for the setting, so I can do a single piece, usually in the afternoon. Scrivener allows me to keep each file separated, and rearrange them according to the handbook design. The hard numbers, the numbers and tables and stuff will come later.

Short stories – heavy lifting, I do a single story in one weekend, concentrating on that job exclusively. The story I’m writing from scratch will take two weekends – one for the first draft, the other for the revision.
I nailed the first revision this last weekend (had to turn a plane into a truck, change the point of view character, move bits around – it was great fun). The second revision will take up the next weekend.
The last weekend of January and the first week of February I’ll do the new Aculeo & Amunet story.
Nice and smooth.

Everything else fits in the interstices – like this post, and the ones I’m writing for my publisher’s website.
Having something else to write is a good way to keep the flow going, to maintain the speed once you’ve picked up speed. The hand must not stop, like Nathalie Goldberg wrote.

I drink a lot of tea – and I’m taking a break every hour, and a small nap once in a while.

There are two requirements, for the thing to work.
One is the fun – if you stop having fun writing, you’re in deep trouble.
The other requirement is having a comfortable, easy place for writing. Often moving the screen and keyboard two feet to the left (or the right) is enough to get better results. Also, decluttering the workspace (like moving those dirty tea cups from underneath the screen) helps.

And as usual I’m giving me small gifts – I’ve got a list of ebooks I’d love to read, but to “unlock” them, I have to finish these jobs.
It works.
And it’s actually saving me money.

Anything else?
Yes – bills to pay.
Those are always a great source of motivation.

  1. and mind you, this is how I do it, and it works for me. I’m not offering this approach as a one-.size-fits-all solution for writers. Maybe it will not work for you, and maybe it will suggest you a completely different way to tackle the problem that will work for you. 
  2. and the more I think about it, the suckier this working title sounds. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Writing a lot – how I do it

  1. a really interesting post, Davide, and I’m glad you decided to share a slice of your time-saving strategies with your reader.
    Even i f it ain’t a

    a one-.size-fits-all solution for writers

    but I think there may be some very useful tips among your lines.
    So I’m glad I didn’t follow your suggestion to

    just stop here and go check some better blog



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