work in progress--not a pretty sightI’m haring off on another writing adventure–a new novel I hope to finish by summer’s end. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting excerpts from a nice long chat I had with my friend Deb Bouziden about the writing process. I’d love to hear everyone’s answers to her questions. She asked some doozies! This particular interview will be published in its entirety in the 2010 Novel & Short Story Market Book. It will hit the shelves October 2009.

DB: What rituals do you follow before you begin working? Turn on music? Seek quiet? Go for a walk? Read yesterday’s work? Do these rituals help the creative process?

SW: All of those sound wonderful! But for me, they’re not writing–they’re procrastinating. I don’t seem to have a consistent “trigger” or ritual to put me in the “zone.” Sometimes I wonder if I even have a zone.

What I have is a work ethic. I had it when I was a teacher and I have it as a writer. When it’s time to go to work, I simply do that–go to work. I put on my big-girl panties (sorry about that visual) and get going on whatever it is that needs to be done that day–write a scene, polish a revision, completely dismantle and rework something….So I can’t really offer you a particular ritual or routine but a mind set: Get to work. And be glad that you love the work.

Now, some people will claim they need time to find the muse. Others have told me (without realizing they’re being rude) that writers who are fast, who “crank them out” are hacks.

I disagree. I have read bad books that were years in the making, and brilliant books, like The Grapes of Wrath, that were written in just a few months. A book takes as long as it takes. For some writers, it varies from book to book. For others, it’s the same amount of time every book. Advice to writers–take the time you need to write the book that’s in your heart. This might mean a commitment of anywhere from a few months to a few years or more. Each writer needs to find her own work rhythm.

I think I just contradicted myself with that answer. That’s what happens when I make both sides of my brain work at the same time.