The Discovery of Process

There’s a dearth of hotties in bikinis, but I’m still rather enjoying Spring Break this year.

Most school breaks, I try to spend them as though I’m a full-time writer: I’ll put in plenty of keyboard time, then spend a few hours taking care of housework or whatever else I’ve been putting off. Usually it works out well, and I get some solid progress done on a project.

This time around has been a bit different. Part of it is I allowed a few other things to derail my time. For starters, the rugrats are a little older and a little more active. Also, when I go full time I also would like to hit karate more often, but I didn’t take into account the travel time and the other stops and errands I add to those extra trips. Finally I decided to finish prepping both the motorcycle and the grill for the season.

Long story short: if I’m going to write full time, my time management is going to have to get much better. It’s already lacking during the regular work weeks, but this is just irritating. Fortunately I can still regroup with the remaining days.

That’s not to say I haven’t gotten any work done (that whooshing sound you just heard was my editor at Evileye breathing a huge sigh of relief). I squeezed in some work here and there, even while on errands or grabbing a quick bite (I love my Moleskine), and I solved a few plot and character issues. I also have the luxury of staying up later and being able to work at night while it’s quiet in the house.

Sitting down on the front porch, tapping out this post on my iPod touch with a cigar in hand, I’ve come to a few of conclusions about my writing.

1) I really do love doing this. I’m as excited about new ideas, characters, and stories as I ever was. Creating is just plain fun, and though the business side can be aggravating sometimes, it’s not as aggravating as the network switch at work that decided to fail in the middle of Spring Break and leave the district bookkeeper and a few teachers playing catch-up unable to get their work done (and thus ruining my Wednesday afternoon).

2) I’ve reaffirmed I’m a night owl. I spent a couple of nights up past one or two in the morning and slept ’til eight or nine, and I got more work done and have felt more energized and positive. Doing those late nights and getting up at 6:30am for the day job just doesn’t cut it after a few days, and it does little to help my day job or the writing gig. I really, really need to find a way to take this full time.

3) I’m not as slow a writer as I think I am. The ideas for the second Pack novella have been percolating in my head for some time now, but it wasn’t until recently that everything started to gel. I may not be happy with my keyboard time, but what happens is eventually something goes click, and all the little pieces fall into line and form the big picture. Better still, in the case of this series, they even link right in to the overall continuity, fueling the future and bringing clarity to the past. When I do chain myself to the keyboard, it’s that much easier to pound away and turn in a solid first draft.

That’s an important key. Part of the problem with my trunk novels is I just charged ahead without a clear picture of where things were headed. I may have had solid ideas, but the execution just wasn’t there. The little details that are so important to the stories fell flat.

Maybe it’s time I stop calling these delays procrastination and understand that maybe this is just my process. Everyone has a method that works for them, be it a specific way or place they have to write or a given method for getting the words onto a page, so maybe it’s just taken me this long to grasp my method. Some of my best work has been done by sitting on things and then making a mad rush before a deadline, and to be honest, I didn’t feel all that rushed at the time I punched the keys.

Sure, I needed to hurry to make deadline, but the words were already there. It’s easier when the key-punching feels more like transcribing notes than creation, and the work is probably better for that.

Does that make sense or did some wiseass spike this cigar at the factory? I’ve never fully bought into things like writers block and waiting on one’s muse. Maybe they’re just an easy way for writers to say they just haven’t sorted their shit out yet. I can’t say I haven’t thrown those terms around, but they always felt like the literary devices they are. They’re our job bleeding into our lives.

Heavy stuff. Now if you’ll excuse me, this cigar’s almost done. I have more percolating to do.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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