I like writing.
No, that’s a lie.
I kinda like writing.
No, that’s a lie.
I like having written.
Some authors I’ve interviewed over the years — Richard North Patterson, immediately comes to mind — write their novels longhand. The late Robert Ludlum, he of Jason Bourne fame, used to write every day on a tablet. A paper tablet. With a pen. That had ink.
He’d hand his pages to his wife, who would then type them. In the morning, before he started writing again, he’d review the pages, make changes — in ink — and hand them back to her for the final typing.
After speaking with several successful authors who did something similar, I bought a bunch of yellow notepads, a couple of good pens, and set to work on my first novel, “Tears in the Rain.”
A couple hours later what I had was a cramped hand, two ink-smudged pages and a lot of irritation. Not to mention frustration.
My problem is this. I believe books and stories should have a rhythm. I want sentences and paragraphs to sing. And I want each paragraph to seamlessly lead into the next.
I want what I write to be perfect.
So, I write a paragraph and another, then go back to the first paragraph because I think of something that I believe will work better, then go back to the second graph, then back to the first, and so on. I can write for several hours and only have a few paragraphs of work to show for it.
When I was working at the Miami News, I became friends with Charles Willeford, a big bear of a man who wrote a column for the paper, always pushing deadline up to the last second. He also wrote book, mysteries, that were very successful. The first in a series of Hoke Moseley novels, “Miami Blues,” was made into a movie starring Alec Baldwin and Fred Ward.
I took a writing class from Charlie and the best advice he ever gave me was “write four pages a day.” Just four, he said. Not too many, not too few.
“If you write 5 days a week, that’s 80 pages a month. In three months you’ll have a 240-page novel.”
I’ve tried that. The best I’ve been able to do is write four sentences a day.
Which is why it took so long to birth that first novel.
I’m getting better, though. I’m up to four whole paragraphs a day.