A Year in the Life: Week 7

Catie MurphyCatie Murphy
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Writing: You know how last time I posted I said I was too busy writing to do a decent YitL post? Yeah, well, then I went on a writing retreat and did 36,000 words in 4 days, including one 11.5K day, which was a personal best.

I wrote 91K in 19 days in March. I finished the entire 8th Walker Papers novel in that time. I observed something that I’ve observed before, but which is starting to take more solid hold in my awareness of Catie’s Writing Process now: the more detailed a synopsis I have, the faster and easier it is for me to write a book, which is an idea I’ve resisted quite heartily over the years. But this is probably the 4th book (out of around 25) where I’ve had a quite detailed synopsis, and…well. 91K in 19 days.

Now, it’s true that I did Very Little Else in that time. Mom babysat 2x a week for 3 weeks so I could get 5+ hour stretches of writing done those days. The four day retreat, I mean, all I did was eat, sleep, and write. And went on a couple of walks, but mostly, eat, sleep, write. I was up early to write most days, wrote during nap time, and wrote in the evenings a few times. And I am under deadline for that book, so the urgency was there. But. 91K in 19 days. This is a feat worth considering.

It also fits solidly into another aspect of Catie’s Writing Process, which is that really, my attention span for a book is 6-8 weeks. After that I want to go do something else for a while. So while a 3 week book is unusually fast (definitely a personal best–I’ve done a couple of 60K books in 4 weeks previously, but never a 100K book in 3 weeks o.O), the detailed outline is probably very good for getting a book done in the 6-8 week window that is my usual attention span.

So, yeah. Still learning about my own process, see? And I’ve been doing this professionally for seven years now, plus who knows how many years of working for it previous to that. This is not a job for the faint-hearted, but it’s also not one you have to worry about understanding your process for from the beginning. :)

Work That Isn’t Writing: Far less of this, really. See above for why. :)

Self-publishing efforts: I’ve just cut Faith her first royalty check from Amazon/B&N. That’s pretty damned exciting, actually. We’ve had 3 stellar months of sales and I’m very, very happy with the novella’s success. That said, April sales so far have fallen off *dramatically*–so far it’s about 25 a day, instead of the 40 to 100 we’ve seen the past 3 months. Sad but probably inevitable.

I’m working on getting cover art for several collections of stories & novellas that I’ll be publishing through Amazon/B&N soon, and I’m looking forward to seeing if those create any kind of bump in the “Easy Pickings” sales. Hopefully I’ll have the first set online at the beginning of May, so I’ll keep reporting on that front.

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5 comments to A Year in the Life: Week 7

  • Hepseba ALHH

    I am assuming there are no comments yet because everyone has been thrown into awed shock by your accomplishment. Dare I ask what your words-per-hour were during this uber-productive time? Also, you say that you’ve resisted this detailed-outline approach for quite a number of books. Do you think that having written so many books has given you some of the tools necessary to put together such a successful outline? or, had you not resisted, do you suspect this method would have worked just about equally well for your early books? I’m still very early in the game (on my first book) and I suspect that more outlining would make things go more smoothly for me. However, I feel like I have too little sense of how my characters (especially new characters) are going to behave until I start writing their scenes…

  • Such a cool post! I found that the more detailed my outline (I haven’t tried a synopsis pre-writing yet) the faster I can go, too. That 91,000 is awesome! I’d like to be able to hit something like that at some point. Right now I’m just sort of wading into novel 2 of a series, and I’m using the first few chapters to feel out what’s going to happen a bit before I sit down and try to produce a detailed outline. There are new characters in this and I want to meet them in text before I try to plan out what they’ll do. Congrats on the “Easy Pickings” sales, too.

  • Ken

    Thanks for posting Catie! Congrats on the wordburst and on getting so much done. You wouldn’t happen to have your outline/synopsis method posted anywhere would you?

  • Wow. I can’t even imagine writing that much in that amount of time. It was interesting to read that you’ve resisted having a detailed synopsis but that it helps you write faster. I’m working on my first novel and resisted a detailed outline or synopsis for months because . . . well, I don’t know why. Because I’m not a plan ahead kind of person, I guess. But I’ve finally realized that I do need more planning than I have, so I’m now focused on getting more of the plot details worked out in a synopsis before diving back into the writing.

  • @Hepseba: I think my words per hour topped out around 1900 WPH, and more steadily were around 1100-1300 WPH. A couple times I impressed myself with the sheer output. :)

    I haven’t so much resisted as for a long time I just assumed writing a more detailed outline would make me lose interest in writing the actual book. It begins to appear that isn’t the case. But I’m reasonably certain that yeah, having written this many books does give me better tools for *doing* the outlines, and for recognizing what different aspects of the story mean in terms of cause and effect and story structure. And, of course, this was the *8th* book in the series, so I certainly know the characters well (even if a lot of them are new to the book).

    @Ken: Actually, yeah, I do have some plot/synopsis stuff posted! One is for URBAN SHAMAN, the first of the Walker Papers, and the other is for THE CARDINAL RULE, my action-adventure-romance-spy novel. :) http://cemurphy.net/archives/22 for URBAN SHAMAN, http://cemurphy.net/excerpts-short-stories/synopsis-tcr for TCR! And I’m likely to do another post about it, given this latest round of success, so I’ll, er, keep you posted here if and when I do that. :)