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Stephen King's Writing Discipline

Karl Giberson

Writer’s Log: Stardate 12-1-4

For two days I have not written anything on Creating Adam.  This makes me nervous, even though I was busy doing other things, and I am a long ways from being behind.  Writing requires discipline though, and one big difference between a book and a term paper is that you cannot produce a book at the last minute.

Stephen King’s memoir On Writing is the most interesting insider’s account of the discipline of writing I have ever read (but I haven’t read very many….), probably because he is one of the most interesting writers out there. King’s discipline is to work in his “writing room” for long enough every day to produce 2000 words. He prefers a word count, rather than a number of hours. It seems to me that this would work much better with fiction than non-fiction, though, since non-fiction writing must frequently be interrupted by sustained periods of research.

I do find a writing schedule to be helpful though. For my last two books—Wonder of the Universe, coming in April, and God Saw that it was Good, coming in September— I created a spread sheet with targeted word counts for each chapter and dates by which each word count should be reached to stay on target. (In a former life I was a physicist so laying things out on a spreadsheet seems natural to me—you literary types can go ahead and laugh if you want!)I hit my deadline with the first book and came in several months ahead of schedule for the second.

I haven’t yet created this schedule for Creating Adam, which has a contract deadline of December 31, 2012.  I have been hung up getting the early material to work properly, so I can better see how the rest will fit together.  I need to get working on this.

Writer’s Log Supplemental: Stardate 12-1-4

Two more students have signed up for my writing workshop, bringing the number to ten, which is great. And I got two inspiring emails in the last week from my writing students who are getting started on their projects before the semester begins.  It will be a challenge keeping up with them.