• Our Writers’ Secrets Revealed: Part I

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    Recently we rolled out a brand-spankin’-new resource: a Time Management Questionnaire┬ádesigned to help you carve out much-needed writing time from your busy schedule. In four painless steps, you’ll examine your writing process and amp up your productivity (even if it’s currently nonexistent!).

    Figuring out what works for you is important. Still, a little inspiration never hurts. Good thing that we’ve got plenty of it here at WBN.

    Today we invite you inside the process and productivity of the WBN team. Read on to learn how five of WBN’s talented coaches and consultants approach their own writing. (When they’re not helping writers via our signature writers’ services, of course.)


    Steve Adams

    WBN Coach and Consultant Steve Adams

    When do you write?

    “It depends on work. In a perfect world I’d probably write about 10:30 in the morning, but these days I usually catch hours in the evening.”


    How often do you write?

    “My baseline goal is five days a week, one page a day, though when my life allows I do it more often.”


    Where do you write?

    “Wherever, but ideally where there are people and voices.”


    What’s your process from start to finish?

    “I just keep going from beginning to end, whether in close quarters, or taking a break to get up on the mountain to see where I’m headed. Or put another way, I start out a long piece knowing a half dozen destinations along the way. When I get stuck I’ll break a section out and plot a number of close quarter events, dots I can connect, then I go back to writing.”

    Kirstin Chen

    WBN Coach and Consultant Kirstin ChenWhen do you write?

    “Mornings, from around 11am-1pm (or, as of late, however long it takes me to write 1000 words.)”


    How often do you write?

    “I aim to write Monday through Friday, but it usually ends up being closer to four days/week.”


    Where do you write?

    “In my study, in silence, always and forever.”


    What’s your process from start to finish?

    “Right now, I’m drafting a new novel, so I sit down, read over (and lightly revise) the 1000 words I wrote the day before, and then start working on the next 1000. When I’m in more of a revision phase, I find it helpful to work with a time limit, so I might work for 2 hours in the morning, take a break, and then work for another 2 hours in the afternoon.”


    Nick Courtright

    WBN Coach and Consultant Nick CourtrightWhen do you write?

    “I write in the interstices between other labors, though I’d say I probably most often draft material before bed, and edit those piles during the day. It all depends on the project: sometimes I’ll try to write a thousand words a day for a few weeks on end, other times I’ll just take it as it comes. I do find, though, that mixing up routine can be a good way to diversify output.”


    How often do you write?

    “It comes and goes, though I never go too long without generating some material. I find it’s helpful to have multiple projects going at once, so as to switch it up when one hits a lag. When the other things of life get to be a bit much, it’s not uncommon for me to go a few weeks without being able to devote much time–life is busy. But in other stretches I’ll find time every day. Somehow, though, it always seems there’s a pile of words going on somewhere.”


    Where do you write?

    “Where I am in the universe at that moment. In bed. In an office. At a coffee shop. While feeding an infant. Stuck in traffic. Beneath the stars, beside a campfire, worrying about umbrellas.”


    What’s your process from start to finish?

    “Again, it depends on the project, but the most consistent theme is that I try to make as many words as humanly possible, and only then get down the fun job of editing. Generating words, to me, is the part that is ‘work,’ so I try to devote myself to that exclusively until I have all that I’ll need for a ‘book’ or whatnot. For my first book, Punchline, for example, I strove to generate 30,000+ words before I edited a single thing, and on my two current projects, for one I said I’d write 120 poems before I started thinking about sequencing, and for the other I started with 100,000 words of prose essay material, before culling it down to 55,000 in 14 essays. I do believe it’s wise to create before you worry too much on editing, lest you talk yourself out of a project before you have enough to really know where you stand.”


    Kenneth Hanner

    WBN Coach and Consultant Kenneth HannerWhen do you write?

    “I start my job at 6 a.m. and typically try to stop at 7 p.m., with gaps of time in between. My job is editing, which often means rewriting.”


    How often do you write?

    “At least five days a week, sometimes seven.”


    Where do you write?

    “Chair in office or bed.”


    What’s your process from start to finish?

    “Drink coffee. Turn off TV.”


    Daniel Kalder

    WBN Coach and Consultant Daniel KalderWhen do you write?

    “For the last 10 years or so I’ve made my living as a professional writer–author, journalist, what have you. So I write pretty much any time of the day. I tried doing my more personal/experimental work in the early mornings, but couldn’t sustain it, so that stuff occurs in the depths of the night.”


    How often do you write?

    “Every week day, and sometimes I’ll throw in a Saturday too. Anyone who is serious about being a writer, especially if they’re serious about getting published and paid should write at least four days a week, more if possible. Two hours is a good minimum if you only have evenings. Doesn’t matter if you’re tired or don’t feel like it, you just have to get the stuff done.”


    Where do you write?

    “I hate writing in an office, though sometimes I have to. I don’t much like writing in cafes, too much noise. I write at home, though sometimes the four walls drive me crazy. My plan is to erect a shed in my yard and work there. Soon it will happen. I’ve written everywhere, however–on planes, trains and park benches. See above: you have to get the stuff done.”


    What’s your process from start to finish?

    “Spit out a rough draft and then spend a lot of time refining it. A lot of people don’t spend nearly enough time refining their work. It’s not enough to tell a story, you have to tell it well and use the right words. Three drafts is optimum. Then I have a trusted friend read it, then I’m good to go, more or less. Journalism, I won’t do as many revisions–maybe just one. That stuff needs to have a different, more immediate feel.”



    What about you, WriteByNighters? When do you write, how often, where, and what’s your process? Let your fellow writers know in the comments below.

    And stay tuned for “Our Writers’ Secrets Revealed: Part II,” in which five more WBN team members speak up about their work.

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