Here’s How I Write

manuscript for next novel

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Shannon A. Thompson, a fellow blogger, gave me the idea for this post. I liked learning about Shannon’s methods and choices during her writing day so I thought some of you might find my process interesting. I’m hoping others of you will write a post and answer these questions as well. I was surprised that even though Shannon and I write in different genres, we follow some similar practices.

Here’s my “How Do I Write?” interview (with myself):

How long do you spend writing each day?

It’s hard to say, and it depends. I work full-time as a writer, but spend a portion of my day marketing and reading blogs and writing comments. The days of writing all day long happen infrequently. My day is usually fragmented.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I prefer writing first thing in the morning, particularly if I wake with an idea. Often, I’m pulled to the writing. When I’m in the process of revising/editing a piece, I usually get all the chores done first and then sit down for an afternoon with the manuscript. This process doesn’t always work so well because too often, I’m just hitting my stride when I look at the clock, and it’s time to start dinner or go to my dance class.

Do you set yourself a time limit or word limit? No limits?

I make lists at the end of my workday for what I want/need to accomplish the next day. Quite often, I can’t complete everything, but at least I start the day with goals. When I’m writing a novel, I always set a goal of three double-spaced typewritten pages (900-1,000 words). I usually stick to that and sometimes even write more.

Do you write with music on? If so, what music do you like to write to?

I love music, and I adore well-written lyrics. However, when I’m writing I can’t have music on with words. I listen to classical music while I’m writing. I particularly like Mozart. I have two CDs I listen to frequently with a variety of classical compositions.

How often do you check the Internet? Do you fall into Internet black holes? Or do you turn it off completely?

The Internet is probably one of the biggest problems in my writing day. It’s too easy to check. Often it happens when I need to research something and then I’m checking my email or Facebook. When I really need to pound out something, I leave my laptop behind and go to my legal pad and pencil.

Are you a basher or a swooper? Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps: “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

I am definitely a swooper. I’d never get a story told if I “bashed” it out. I want to get it all down, and then I go back and smooth it out. I consider my first draft the outline of the story. No one ever really sees that version. In reality, the first draft I show to beta readers is probably the second draft of the story.

Do you eat when you’re writing? What snacks/drinks do you go to?

I take breaks for eating. I usually have nuts or crackers, but I leave the writing alone when I’m eating.

What’s your biggest procrastination tool? Or are you a freak who never procrastinates?

I can find all sorts of things to do instead of settling down with the writing. I unloaded the dryer and folded sheets in the middle of doing this interview. The Internet is a great procrastinator. I’ve been known to clean the refrigerator when I have an important scene to write.

How do the people (roommates/partners/children) who live with you fit into or around your writing schedule?

I’m fortunate to be able to keep an 8-5 schedule just like my husband. I get up with him in the morning. We drink a cup of coffee together. He goes off to the shower, and I head up to my office. I usually try to stop my work when he comes home at night. I don’t have any young children, but when I did, I usually rose an hour early in the morning and did my writing then. This month I’ve had three sets of visitors for a couple of days at a time, and I find that’s difficult, but I manage by working longer hours before their visit so all my blogs are scheduled.

Do you find yourself tied to the place you’ve grown accustomed to writing? Or can you just pick up and go?

I pick up and go. Sometimes I have to get out of the house. I find I can write in public at coffeehouses, libraries, and bookstores very well. I shut it all out. Now why I can’t listen to music with lyrics while I’m writing at home, I don’t know. About once a week, I go some place other than my office to write. I also have a couple of spots in my house where I go if I need a change of scenery. I keep a briefcase packed with my writing tools. Usually when I leave the house, I go with my legal pad and about a dozen sharpened pencils. I leave the laptop at home. My purpose in changing scenery is to concentrate and get away from distractions. I like starting my blogs and chapters and scenes in long hand. I might only write a page or two that way, but it gets me started. The rest comes easily.

So that’s how I write. I learned very early in my writing career to follow what works for me and not what works for other writers. However, sometimes by looking at others’ choices, I can find a better way to work.

How do you write? I would love to learn from you.

Week 18: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’m participating in my first blog hop, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey as we blog hop our way through some new reads. A blog hop gives readers an opportunity to find some wonderful authors you might have missed. Be sure to follow our blog hop and be introduced to some exciting reads as well as works in progress. Below you will be able to learn a little about me. You’ll also find links to Kathleen Heady’s, Phanessia Harrell’s, and Daniel Alexander’s blogs. They follow me on the blog hop in Week 19. Be sure to check out both Kathleen and Phanessia. You’ll be impressed.

Special thanks to S.I. Hayes for asking me to participate. Check her out at

Twitter:  @shannonihayes

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/S.I.Hayes.Author

Blog:  A Writer’s Mind, More or Less

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/s.i.hayes

P. C. Zick’s Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:

 Q: What is the working title of your book?

Trails in the Sand

 Q:Where did the idea come from for the book?

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, I worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Agency as a public relations director. I was very much involved in the wildlife response efforts during the crisis. I handled all the media relations for a project involving the relocation of hundreds of sea turtle nests from the Panhandle beaches of Florida to the Atlantic coast. Nothing of this magnitude had ever been attempted before, but the sea turtle experts were very concerned the hatchlings wouldn’t survive in oil-infested waters. I wanted to write a story that involved the horror of the event and the efforts to restore. The oil spill plays a background role in one family whose lives have been impacted by many “trails in the sand.”

 Q:What genre does your book fall under?

I refer to it as an environmental love story, but no one’s come up with that category of writing yet. It’s contemporary fiction and could be considered women’s literature.

Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Susan Sarandon as the matriarch, Gladdy; Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson as the main love characters (if they can go from age 18 to 50); Lindsay Lohan as the troubled young woman trying to figure it all out.

 Q:What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

As the oil spill threatens the coast of Florida, one family’s past secrets threaten their future, but the road to healing for both paves the way to recovering what was lost.

 Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will self-publish this book, just as I did Live from the Road. The experience has been satisfying as it gives me more control over my work.

Q:How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me a year to complete the first draft. I began it sometime in 2011, although I was exploring the topic in late 2010. I finished the first draft in February 2012 and sent it out to two beta readers. During this past summer, I wrote the second draft based on their comments. I made quite a few changes the second time around. After another round of comments, I’m revising the second draft and hope to have it to my editor before Thanksgiving.

Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not sure I’ve read anything like this. Karen White wrote about the Gulf coast after Katrina, but she didn’t really delve into environmental issues. Pat Conroy has written about sea turtles, using them as a way to bring a family together (Beach Music), and there are many novels depicting southern families and their dysfunction. Trails in the Sand is unique and should be taken as such with each reader.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I was dealing in real life with the oil spill, I was also embarking on a new relationship. However, that “relationship” actually began forty years ago in Michigan when my husband and I were teenagers. We lost contact with each other for more than three decades. I wanted to write a story about the environment and about how love can survive even through separation.

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Stokley clan is an interesting conglomeration of folks from the sisters named Candy, Cookie, Sugar, Apple, and then finally the tortured Gladys, to their father, who went from coal miner to doctor. His past overshadows the present as his granddaughter and Gladdy’s daughter, Caroline, seeks the answers to the past to heal the present.

Next Wednesday, October 31, Kathleen Heady, Phanessia Harrell, and Daniel Alexander will join The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Please visit their sites and join them on the blog hop as they answer questions about their work and introduce even more authors for you to discover.

Kathleen Heady:

Website: http://www.kathleenheady.com

Blog: http://headywriting.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/headynovels

Phanessia Harrell:

Blog: WhileWaitingOnMyWings  http://wp.me/28t72

Blog: Expressions Of Me http://wp.me/2Cbac

Facebook: https://t.co/aUEZ4UI

Daniel Alexander

Blog: http://daniel-alexander-book.blogspot.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/daniel.alexander.book

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/danielalex_book