I’m pursuing a dream to write and publish a mystery series, the working title of the first book in the series is “Death on Clare Island”. The series features Star O’Brien, a voice for the lost, the missing, and the dead. One of the things, I often struggle with is what my writing routine should be. It’s been a process of discovery. Here’s what’s been working for me.
- The Notebook
When I began writing my mystery series. I had no idea how I was going to grow the story into a full-blown book. An avid reader of PD James, I went looking for ideas about her writing process. I read, in one of her interviews, that she often outlined an entire story first. She explained that when writing a particular chapter didn’t appeal, she could go to another chapter and write that scene.
And so, I bought a spiral notebook and outlined every chapter of my book. The outline was written in longhand form, about a page per chapter. This practice has helped me continue getting my words on paper. Sometimes when the words just aren’t flowing in a particular chapter, I opt to write one of the outlined chapters which, at that moment, appeals to my creative flow.
PD James’ book about writing detective novels.
- The Bible
As a reader of mystery novels, I remember every detail of my favor series main characters. So, as a writer, I want to reward my readers by consistently presenting the series characters. In the beginning, I’d have to keep searching back through the story to remember what color jacket the character was wearing in the opening scene. That’s when I created the bible.
In there, I write information about the series main characters. What is their back story? When were they born. Where did they go to school? I’ve continually adding information to the bible.
Now, when I’m writing a particular scene, I go back to the bible description for that character. This assists with how I write what the character says. The backstory also helps me get into and portray the character’s emotional mindset and why he or she may be acting as they are in the scene.
As your story and characters grow, having a series bible is invaluable.
- Put Your Butt in a Chair and Write
There were many nuggets in Elizabeth George’s “Write Away” but one stood out (sorry no pun intended): put your butt in a chair and write. Thinking and planning are necessary but most important is actually writing. Which brings me to my last bit of advice for this post.
- Figure Out Your Writing Expectations
Will you commit to writing a certain number of pages each day? Or a certain word count? Perhaps you set a timer and write for a set period.
I use a timer and a word count expectation. I write for thirty-minute periods with a ten minute get up and stretch break. I typically write in the early morning and strive for two to four hours. I have a goal of five hundred words each day. And, I keep to this routine Monday through Thursday. I use the remaining days of the week to read other authors, do research, and peruse relevant articles in magazines such as Writer’s Digest.
I hope this helps! Let me know what you think via the contact section.