A Day in the Life of a Writer – One Writer’s Way by Susan Lute

Part One You could say I’ve been to a fair amount of book signings, and one question the signing author is always asked is, what does your writing day look like?

I love that question because it’s something most writers struggle with until they discover a rhythm that works for them. Even after all these years, I’m still in the discovery phase. However, I know a couple of things.

First, I’m a morning person. Not just morning. We’re talking most days, my eyes pop—yes, pop—open between 5 and 5:30a. Shocking, I know, for you later birds who like to sleep in. If I go directly to my desk, do not pass go, do not collect $200, barely get coffee, I can put in two hours without blinking. Then I need libation and food. From there, how many hours I put in the rest of the day is all downhill. And if I start out any other way, like take a side trip on the net first, look out first two hours of writing. Bye-bye. Not a single word gets on the page. {{{sigh}}}

So, I’m always searching for a solution to this dilemma, even though the real answer is, DON’T GET ON THE NET UNTIL MY PAGES ARE DONE FOR THE DAY! Okay, got that out of the way. It’s all logical really, which is why it’s so strange that illogic takes over. But, I heard Candace Havens talk in New York on her topic: Fast Draft: How to Write Your First Draft in Two Weeks. I’ve heard her talk about this before, but for some reason it resonated with me this time. The long and short of this technique is that you can teach yourself to write the first draft of a book in two weeks, twenty pages a day for fourteen days. The trick is being prepared.

When I’m going to the day job, the night before, I lay out my clothes in the bathroom; have everything ready for my shower in the morning; pack the backpack (I never leave the house without a book to read and a notebook to write in); and make sure lunch is ready. Then, all I have to do is get up, shower, primp :), eat breakfast, grab my things, and dash out of the house. If I’m prepared, I can get out of the house in an hour and forty-five minutes. If not—it’s not pretty, and I get to work already behind the eight ball.

It’s the same thing with Fast Draft. You prep beforehand. Clean the house. Buy groceries. Pre-write blog posts. Catch up on all your writer community/Board duties. Write a brief, fluid, story outline, noting acts, sequels, turning points, climaxes, setpieces. Don’t get too detailed, because as an organic plotter, you know the story will twist and turn in ways you couldn’t possibly plan for. Set a start date—and go! Write, write, write. Rule number one: only look at email after you’ve written your pages for the day.

While the story spills out, kiss the Mr. of thirty-nine years every day. When he talks about his day, let the story you’re living with evaporate for the moment, your eyes clear, and hear every word he says. Well, almost every word. When the fourteen days are up, see where you are and what story has emerged. And celebrate. You’ve done it. Written 280 pages 🙂 What a champ!

This will be my first attempt at Fast Draft, a first step into that year of writing I’m coveting, and I want to hear—chanting—go, go, go, go, go!

Part Two. You writers out there—have any of you tried this technique? How did it go? It’s a challenge at first, but I’m assured the more you do it, the better you get 🙂

Part Three. Readers, what is on your reading list for August while I’m writing my fingers to the bone? You’re part of my village, and I want to envision each of you relaxing, having a latte or sweet tea, feet up on the railing, tablet or book in hand, a vase of flowers on the table beside you. Titles. I need titles.

Until next week—



About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on August 10, 2011, in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thanks Terri! Looks like I have a playmate. Wendy Warren and I are starting a Fast Draft on Tuesday. I have a lot of life going on in the midst of this, but am going to give it a go anyway. In preparation, have been working on cleaning up the office today 🙂


  2. Go, Go, Go! I haven’t heard of this, but now want to give it a try. I look forward to more advice when your two weeks are done. 😀


  3. Thanks, Maggie. Stay tuned 🙂


  4. Go. Go. Go!!! I know you can do it Susan. I have not tried this technique only because I haven’t been able to put together two weeks dedicated to it. However, I completely believe it can be done. I have done as much as 28K over a weekend when up against a self-imposed deadline and that was without prep. Do let us know how it goes.


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