Saturday, August 15, 2020

Writers' Routines: Mary Balogh

 Lately, I've been obsessed with learning more about writers and how they create their works. How many words do they aim for each day? What kinds of rituals do they have? Mason Curry's Daily Rituals: How Artists Work has been very insightful in terms of understanding how writers and other creators approached the process. However, many of the artists profiled here do not create commercial fiction, and I became intensely curious about how romance writers, for instance, establish goals and writing routines for themselves.

Recently, the Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels website had a fascinating and revealing interview with Mary Balogh. I highly recommend that you listen/read to the entire interview. Balogh has been a favorite of mine for years, and I've been working through her Westcott series. I really enjoyed what Balogh said about how she writes, especially when she's immersed in a project: "when I work on a book, I work mornings every day, seven days a week." I think that's valuable advice since as she mentions, it's harder to jump back into a work in progress once a few days have passed. As she states, when she's actively writing, she aims for 2000 words a day. She notes that this adds up:  "I try to write about thirty thousand words a month so that I can finish a book in just a little over three months and finish it completely within four months." Balogh also states she prefers writing outdoors during summer mornings and has a lovely area set aside for her writing. Those of us who live in the hot Southern states might find this a bit challenging! I live in southwest Florida, and after 9 a.m., it becomes nearly unbearable to be outdoors. However, I like the idea of having a separate little writing retreat set up in the backyard, perhaps on the lanai.

My reaction to her routine is that I like the idea of writing 2000 words a day (and I think this is what Stephen King recommends). However, so much depends on individual writers and their unique circumstances. I do write every day, but the reality of being a single mom with a full-time job means that sometimes I'm lucky to log 250 words a day. However, I write every day, and I've found that the words really do add up.

She also keeps it simple with her writing supplies: "I just have my little laptop and my day calendar beside me and my yellow pad where, on which I list names and place names of characters and, and places as I go, and that’s about it." 

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