Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Debbi Mack's 20 Questions Blog Tour

Please welcome Debbi Mack to Suspense Novelist. Debbi will be guest blogging for 20 days on 20 blogs about writing related topics.

Question 2: What's your day-to-day writing process?

Thanks, Peg, for hosting me here at Suspense Novelist and for the opportunity to talk about my day-to-day writing process.

The question is appropriate in that writing is a day-to-day process. Many people assume that writers simply write whenever inspiration strikes. Not so. Writing isn't about having a muse whisper in your ear, followed by a dash to the keyboard (or writing pad – whatever).

Writing is, in fact, about showing up. And by showing up, I mean sitting at your computer (or typewriter or writing pad – whatever) and putting words down. And doing this regularly. Not just when you feel like it. Not just when inspiration seizes you.

Writing is being willing to make a regular (ideally, daily) commitment to simply sitting at your desk and doing the work.

Having said that, let me tell you my own writing process. It's to do what I can, as much as I can every day.

First, I should explain that I live by a highly structured schedule. Every night, I actually sit down and pencil out what I'm going to do the next day on my calendar. I schedule time for email (time-consuming!), marketing, promotion and networking (all part of the process) and (finally!) researching and writing my work.

I do this every day. And every day I work on my novel or short story, I get a little bit closer to the finish.

Now, some days are harder than others. Some days life just gets in the way and I can't completely accomplish my mission. I have to cut myself some slack and say, "Well, there's always tomorrow."

The point is that you can't use that as an indefinite excuse. The point is I work at my writing one day at a time, one page at a time, one word at a time.

So whether I'm able to write 200 words or 2,000 on any given day, it just means I've come that much closer to my goal.

The trick is not to get discouraged. Writing a novel takes time. It's kind of like building a cathedral. Or Rome. You can't do it all in one day.

You also can't afford to wait for this so-called "muse" to get in touch with you. Jack London put it best. "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

What about days when you're tired or sick? Well, on days when I'm sick, I give myself a break. I sleep in and try to take care of myself. I won't be able to write anything if I kill myself, will I?

That's why it's an important part of my process to pace myself. I try not to put too many things on my to-do calendar, so I won't feel overwhelmed. I try to space out my obligations, so I won't overburden myself.

In this way, I can get things done through careful planning and preparation. I factor in the time I think it will take to get tasks done and account for it in my schedule. This provides some assurance that I will (in fact) get them done and have time left over to actually write.

As you can see from the photos of my workspace, I haven't exactly devoted a lot of time to cleaning. LOL I'll tell you something about myself. For good or ill, I'm a bit of an Oscar Madison. (Hey, he was a writer! LOL) In fact, my writing consumes so much time, I often feel I'm ignoring other (possibly more) important things.

This is why I find it crucial to set up a regular writing schedule. That way my time is marked out and managed. If I keep to my schedule, as best I can, I don't have to worry about getting the work done. I don't have to scramble at the last possible moment to finish a job.

Another part of the writing process is knowing when to quit. By scheduling a specific time on my calendar, I know I've also scheduled time for other things by default. I've scheduled time to be with my husband, go catch a movie or a play, or even take a vacation. I've scheduled time to talk to family and friends, go to the occasional party or just hang out.

Because what's the point of doing something you love, if you can't do it on your own terms?

Hey, even writers are entitled to a life. (What a concept. LOL)

* * * * *

Thanks for reading, everyone! Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address if you'd like to enter the drawing for the 10 autographed copies of IDENTITY CRISIS I'm giving away. (One entry per person, but comment as often as you like.)

The drawing will be held on my blog My Life on the Mid-List after the tour is finished. Check my blog for the entire tour schedule.

And please join me at my next stop tomorrow: The Unread Reader.

* * * * *
Debbi Mack is the author of IDENTITY CRISIS, a hardboiled mystery and the first in a series featuring lawyer Stephanie Ann "Sam" McRae. She's also a short story writer whose ebook anthology, FIVE UNEASY PIECES, includes the Derringer-nominated "The Right to Remain Silent," originally published in The Back Alley Webzine. Debbi's work has also appeared in two of the CHESAPEAKE CRIMES anthologies.

Be on the lookout for her next Sam McRae novel, LEAST WANTED, which will be published soon (in print and ebook versions).

Debbi practiced law for nine years before becoming a freelance writer/researcher and fiction author. She's also worked as a news wire reporter covering the legal beat in Washington, D.C. and as a reference librarian at the Federal Trade Commission. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three cats.

You can find out more about Debbi on her Web site and her blog My Life on the Mid-List. Her books are available on Amazon, BN.com, Lulu.com, Smashwords and other sites around the Web, and by order at stores. You can also buy autographed copies of her novel from her Web site at http://www.debbimack.com/identitycrisis.

Thank you, Debbi. We'll be watching you move through this blog tour and wish you all the best.

CR: Racing the Devil by E. Michael Terrell, which, a few chapters in, I'm loving.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I admire your discipline, Debbi, not just in terms of the writing, but also the ever more creative marketing you do, and devotion you show to your readers!

    With Peg and Debbi coming together in this way, I can honestly say that two of my favorite writing inspirations are in one place...

  2. Thanks, Jenny! I just keep trying to do what I can every day, a little bit at a time.

  3. Debbi, this post is incredibly timely for me. I KNOW when I schedule my day, I accomplish more. I schedule everything from email review to exercise to study to writing to 'slush time' which helps my mood stay happy. And, when I schedule, I have more time in the evenings to play.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Anytime, Peg! Gotta get in that "slush time," that's for sure. :)

  5. Your schedule/writing life sounds a lot like mine. I admire your discipline and tenacity! I'm enjoying you novel too.

  6. I couldn't agree more. I view writing as work, but in a positive sense. I am creating something and that takes effort. Just as at my day job, sometimes I have to expend every bit of energy to get things right. That pays off in the end (maybe not financially yet, but I have hopes).

  7. Thank you, LJ! I'm glad you're enjoying the book.

    And DCS, just stick with it. What's that quote about 90% of success being about just showing up?
    (or words to that effect)

  8. Schedules are a good thing!