How I write my books

blood man

As a published author of many differing types of works, most of which are academic peer reviewed journal papers and dozens of reports and other outputs to academic, commercial and governmental organisations, I have found that over the years, it is much easier for me to write academic and factual based works than it is to write fantasy works.  Now, don’t get me wrong, when I say ‘easier’ I don’t mean more enjoyable, far from it, but what I mean by that statement is that the words flow much more quickly and with less angst than when I am world building and writing conversational sentences, expositions and so on.

The two differing styles of writing are enjoyable to me for differing reasons.  In academic and professional works, all I need to concentrate on are the facts and to relay them succinctly and accurately and to present them well.  This can be a challenge in itself as I research and analyse data, but overall the process does not take me too long.  I get great enjoyment from completing the work to the best of my abilities.

The second type of writing which is fantasy based works can often be akin to writing with a pen that is doused in my own blood.  I write a first draft and I know what I want to say, but the words seem childish, sentences are untidy and overly long and the text just doesn’t ‘shine’.  So, I go back and re-edit the work, attempting to craft the words in a shorter and more concise way, again, something doesn’t sit right and I seem to spend an age in looking at it and changing the text.

When I read about some very successful authors, such as Amanda Hocking who apparently wrote some of her best sellers in a week (think of Switched), I just can’t imagine being able to do such a thing that I wouldn’t think was worth anything more than placing inside a garbage sack.  I am aware that she stated that the work needed editing, but the fact that it was so well received, well quite frankly I am in awe as I know that I could never write a book of that type in such a short space of time. However, I must balance this by saying that I am also in awe of authors such as Ernest Hemingway who once said that when he writes he has to ‘sit at a typewriter and bleed’.

My conclusion as an established author is that I am as prolific as Amanda Hocking in academic and professional works, but more like Hemingway in my abilities to write fiction works (although no near as talented as him I’m sure). On some days when I sit down with a cup of tea and write nothing more than a few paragraphs on my fantasy books, having spent several hours that evening laboring over several pages that have been reduced to almost nothing, I frown in frustration, but ultimately my efforts pay off and I am satisfied with it and I am able to move forward.  I do not follow the approach of some people of ‘just get it all down and go back later to edit’.  To me, that is like building a house of straw and no self respecting architect builds a sloppy, badly formed house and ‘goes back later’ to build a proper one.  Yet it works for some people and all the best to them on that.

For me, it has to be right first time, otherwise it is an itch that I just want to scratch, niggling at my conscience until I go back and bleed over it until the text ‘shines’.  I know when the transition has happened as the words bounce off the page and I can see, hear, feel, smell, taste the world that is relayed.  When that happens, the  blood loss was worth it.

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