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About Writing Right: The Blog


Somebody ask me this question awhile ago, and I thought it interest enough to delve into. Here's my response:

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Now, you have me thinking back to when I actually did have a favorite time for writing. That was quite a few decades ago when I first began pounding out (on an old Underwood typewriter) my first novel, and I'd start about ten at night and write through the evening until my father woke up to go to work at six the following morning and stared at me, amazed. "What time did you get up?" Of course, I glowed in self-admiration at being able to tell him that I didn't and that I'd been working through the night on my novel. Having discovered me working through the night, I thought, made him realize how serious I was about this whole writing deal I had recently discovered. It also made me believe I was cut out to be a famous, long-suffering novelist and artiste. I was fourteen.


I gave up that nonsense sometime before I reached the age of maturity, which for me was around thirty. Or, more likely, when I got my first real writing job as a suburban Chicago newspaper stringer. That's when I learned the reality of having to write under the pressure of unyielding deadlines. Writing on demand, in effect. That realization was enforced during my years in college where I majored in journalism. An instructor would set up a story, pull out his stopwatch, and tell us to "Go!" Fifteen minutes later, he'd tell us to "Stop!" What we accomplished in between pretty much determined our grades for the semester.


What I'm saying in a round-about but oh, so endearing fashion is that professional writers don't have a favorite time of day to write. Or even a favorite way of spelling "favourite." (Oh, you Brits, always adding extra letters when you should be subtracting them.) Professional writers don't wait until the spirit moves them, until the hands on the clock reach a certain position, or until someone shouts "Go!" They write when they need to, which includes (of course) when they want to.


I write to make money. I also write between money-making projects to work on things that may make money someday but also may not. In the end, it doesn't really matter to me. I've eked out a living from this business for more than half a century. These days, I write whenever I feel like writing, sometimes late into the evening and sometimes not. It doesn't matter to a professional.


Whereas once, as a kid, I enjoyed the quiet and serenity that writing through the night afforded me, now I can write on a crowded subway in the middle of rush hour, except that we don't have crowded subways where I live--either in the middle of rush hour or at any other time of day. I think you get my point.


Writing is an intensely absorbing sport. What's going on around you really doesn't matter once you learn to concentrate on the story unfolding in your brain. And eventually making its way onto paper.


Take, for example, the opening line I just created for my next novel. It took me years to come up with it and months to fine-tune it. Here it is:


It was a dark and stormy night.


Pretty good, huh?

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D. J. Herda is author of the new ebook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.

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