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Okay, now that that is off my chest, we can get into the meat of this post. Although I’ll admit that my entries have been a little lean lately. Nearing the end of a project seems to slow my momentum rather than increase it. But I did want to create a companion entry to “Page Counts, Words, Rosemary, and Time.” “Page Counts” dealt with my own schedule and how I use daily word counts or time spent to move forward. While writing that entry, I wondered if any other fantasy authors, or authors in general, did something similar. Did any of them measure their progress by counting pages? Or did they set aside specific blocks of time to work? Or did they just write all day long? I know each author has their own way of doing things, but I also like finding trends.
Turns out, I’m not alone in counting pages during the wee dawn hours. I recently read The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus, and I highly recommend it. Thirteen contemporary authors of juvenile fantasy were interviewed, answering questions about their childhood, their exposure to stories and libraries, when their interest in writing developed, and what their writing and revision schedules were like. It isn’t as in-depth as a biography, but it does ask a lot of questions that I would like to ask authors, if I had the chance. Here’s a snapshot of when and how much some published fantasy authors write:
The author of the wonderful Prydain Chronicles, who sadly passed away in 2007, used to get up at 3:00am and work 3-4 hours every day of the week.
Author of Well Wished and The Folk Keeper. She writes 4 hours a day, starting at 5:30am. She writes long hand first, then transcribes to the computer in the evening.
Author of The Dark Is Rising series. She writes after breakfast for 3 hours or 1,000 words, whichever comes first. Like Ms. Billingsley, she starts out long hand and transcribes to the computer later.
The author of A Girl Named Disaster and The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm writes every day whenever she can.
The author of the popular Redwall series has no set routine. He usually writes no more then 10 pages a day, but can reach 25 pages on a good one.
Diana Wynn Jones:
Author of Howl’s Moving Castle and The Dalemark Quartet, among many others. She had no routine, but would instead “sit, stare, and wait.” (She died of cancer in 2011.)
Ursula K Le Guin:
Author of the Earthsea novels. She works at a desk with computer when it rains, and writes outside with a notebook when it’s sunny. She recommends 3 square meals.
Author of the Kairos and Chronos books, who died in 2007. Her routine varied. Sometimes her writing came in short bursts and sometimes she would spend all day on it. The important thing was to write each day.
Author of the Abhorsen Trilogy and The Seventh Tower series. He has an office short walk from home. Mornings starting between 8:30-10am are spent on administrative tasks, afternoons around 5:30 or 6pm are spent writing, and then a second spurt of writing follows from 9:30pm until midnight. He usually writes directly to the computer, but difficult passages he prefers to write out long hand.
The author of the successful Song of the Lioness and Circle of Magic series spends her mornings on and playing with her cats. Writing starts around 3 or 4pm and she has a daily quota of 5 to 14 pages. usually she finishes around 8pm, but if not, she can’t watch TV.
The author of the popular Discworld books is always writing, even when not in front of computer. He says that writers are always writing through thinking, mentally revising and experiencing the world around them. It all becomes part of your writing.
The author of His Dark Materials writes from 9:30am until 1pm, then returns in afternoon if he hasn’t met his goal 3 handwritten pages or 1,000 words.
Author of The Pit Dragon Trilogy. As a full-time writer, she spends all day writing. She starts the morning B.I.C. (“Butt in chair”) and finds little packets of time throughout the rest of the day.