DWI: Dying While Intoxicated will be available for free to Kindle users this weekend. The promotion will begin on Thursday, September 13, 2012 and run through Monday, September 17, 2012. If you take advantage of this offer, please consider posting a review on Amazon.com.
For most of us, creating a novel is not a whim, something you do when you feel like it. Even with the best of ideas, you will not wake up in the morning to find a completed manuscript on your computer. Writing a book takes discipline, and a schedule can help nurture the discipline it takes.
Throughout my life, I have ‘dabbled’ with writing novels. Without exception, however, I have never been successful until I committed 100% of my professional life to the projects that ultimately resulted in published books. To be more specific, I spent 30 years in the aerospace industry. During those 30 years, I said to myself more than once, “I’ll spend an hour every morning working on a book, if I can write 300 words a day, I’ll have a 100,000-word manuscript in just a year.” It never happened. Never even came close.
I took a 2-year sabbatical from traditional employment to write The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas. I ‘extricated’ myself for another two years to write The Hamsa, and Tobit followed during my transition to retirement from traditional employment in 2011. Today, I can say with confidence and satisfaction, “I am a writer.” That is all I do, write books.
As I complete my fourth novel, DWI: Dying While Intoxicated, I’ve learned that I cannot write effectively for much longer than six hours a day, and I do that five days a week. Here is what my typical weekday looks like:
- 0400 – 0600: I rise, clear my email and write with a fresh copy of coffee on my desk.
- 0600 – 0800: I visit the Redemptorist community three miles up the road. I practice contemplative prayer and passage meditation, attend community prayer and conclude with daily Mass [I practice Catholicism].
- 0800 – 0930: I write
- 0930 – 1130: I bicycle with my wife 25 to 30 miles
- 1130 – 1430: I write
I will reflect on what I am writing during my two-hour contemplative session in the morning, and during the two-hour bike ride. I generally retire NLT 2000 [8 PM] except in the summertime when the days are longer. After I shut down at 2:30 PM, I often read. Without fail, I read every evening before I turn the light out.
While this schedule works for me, it will probably not work for you. Each person has to develop the discipline and schedule that works best for her. The point is, writing requires a daily commitment. Without that commitment – and I remain convinced that a schedule can encourage and support discipline – the results are questionable.
From my perspective, every book of value is about ‘something.’ Perhaps my belief in that statement is a by-product of having to write book reports all through my primary and secondary education. Education has changed significantly in that regard; I don’t believe even reading books is a prerequisite for graduation anymore, much less writing reports on them. That is a shame.
The heart of every book can be summed up in a sentence or two, and it goes far deeper than saying, “This book is about the War in Vietnam,” or “This book is about vampires,” or “This book is about love.” I’ll use my three novels as examples. All of my books are about human values …
The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas is about the worth of a human being. It is set in ancient Greece and action takes place at the Olympic Games and concludes at Thermopylae, but it is not about those places or events, or about the two main characters, Theagenes the boxer and Simonides the poet. The book is about human values. My core statement that is at the heart of the book: The worth of a man’s life is judged not on what he does for himself, rather on what he does for others. Some time after the book was published, I came across this quote from 19th century clergyman and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher that describes the heart of the book better than anything I’ve read.
“Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the rightly using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own, solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.”
Henry War Beecher (1813 – 1887)