Joe Barlow Writes

Quirky Books for Quirky People–New Thoughts on Writing and Publishing in the Digital Frontier

Coming Out of the Writing Closet

funny-pictures-cat-pidgeons-star-warsWhen we last spoke, I shared with you the story of how I wrote my second novel, The Phantom of Mulberry Street, over a two-month period by getting up an hour early each day.

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve now made this formerly alien behavior a habit, and I can barely remember what life used to be like before I embraced it. It feels so natural, so correct, that it’s hard to believe I ever tried to write at night, after my brain was fried from a hard day of corporate writing and various household responsibilities.

I realize I’ve been living a lie for years, and I can’t take it any longer. I need to come out of the closet. I’m finally ready to admit it:

I am, and always have been, a morning writer. I deluded myself for over a decade, trying to make myself be something that I wasn’t, but I was wrong.

Well, no more denial of my true nature! No more will my novels have to subsist on my intellectual leftovers! Now, Clayton Gyler and his sidekick, the lovely Jennifer Watkins, will get served first at my creativity buffet each day, when I’m at my freshest and most focused.

What has impressed me most about this method of working is not just how great I feel when I’m done (knowing that even before many of my friends have gotten out of bed, I’ve already made substantial strides on a project that matters greatly to me, and furthered my long-term career goals).

No, what has impressed me most is how quickly the pages pile up when a person commits to writing each and every day. Even a relatively small amount like 1,000 words (about four double-spaced pages) can yield impressive results after a few weeks.

Referring back to my notes, I see that for the first 39 days I worked on Phantom, I wrote a total of 44,510 new words (162 pages). That’s about 2/3rds the length of the first book (Coffee to Die For), the first draft of which took me eight months to complete. By the time the first draft of Phantom was complete a few weeks later, I’d written 85,183 words (306 pages). This meant that Phantom was about 25% longer than Coffee, yet was written in one-quarter the time. That’s music to my ears.

Incidentally, I worked on the first draft of the second novel in the morning, and spent any free time I could find in the evening writing the second draft of the first novel. Any new words I wrote while revising were in addition to the words I wrote in the morning, and were not counted towards my daily word goal. (Nor are blog posts.)

I’m thrilled by this new routine, and the progress I’ve made. I’m now finishing up the third draft of Coffee, and am excited by how close to the end I’m getting. Then I’ll turn my full attention to revising Phantom and getting it out into the world, too. (Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list, if you’d like to be notified when they’re available.)

What about you? What’s your daily routine? Are you a morning person, an afternoon writer, or a midnight oil burner? I’m genuinely interested.

-j.

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