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Feeding the Relentless Writing Beast: January 2, 2024, Selek, Washington
© 2024 James LaFond
“James, [government name redacted], the Arkham Reporter, mentioned that your output is inspirational, and was wondering if you had any tips that could help the less experienced writer. I told him that the one thing I remember you saying was that if you didn’t do something just because you didn’t feel good, you would have never done anything.”
Thanks to both of you for being curious. I was diagnosed as suffering from graphomania by Ann Sterzinger in 2014. I agree, I am driven by an inner madness to write. This maniac within holds the rest of my being hostage to serve his bitter purposes. We agree to serve him, mostly for fear of becoming him.
I have just checked my book master file and it seems I have written 274 books, though I am unsure, basically, because I can’t count reliably. I used to count my paycheck three times, and keep the total that repeated, and the book keeper smiled and said, “Here, Baby Cakes, I’ll do it once so you can follow along.”
From 1992 thru 2010, I wrote 9 books while working between 40 and 70 hours a week. If my employment exceeded 70 hours I wrote nothing. Most of this writing was done on my day off, as I typically had one day off a week for most of my life. The other 40% of that writing was done on vacation time and while off work due to injuries. I missed 11 months of work in the first 31 years of my working life, all between 1994 and 2003.
July 5 2010 I quit work, rewrote 4 of the above books, and wrote two huge novels between July 6 and December 23. That gave me the measure of how much economic scraping had deprived me of my mind, even as I had worked most of that time in an unthinking capacity. The grind alone, deprives us of most of the perspective that the writer requires.
Between July 2010 and December 2017 I wrote something like 120 books, with one day accounting for 26 chapters and aticles. I wrote the 97,000 word Thunder-boy in one month, the 32,000 Thunderbird in 3 days. This eventually resulted in me having disfiguring and almost lethal sleep seizure on December 13, 2017. When I cleaned up the scene of the mess two weeks later, it looked like a demon had tried to kill me. But mine were the only hand prints in the blood.
That 7 years of insane production were accomplished by working 24 hours a week across three nights, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I only slept on those 3 evenings, 3 to 4 hours, before going to work, and on Saturday night when I got drunk with Megan. I was living off of 25 dollars for food and booze a week, so drank cheap rum. Eventually, the rotation of coffee and rum resulted in me letting that demon in—or maybe out.
I have, since 2019, suffered from extreme eye pain. I accept this just like I accept the pain in my hands from boxing and stick boxing. Since then my annual book completions have ranged from a high of 37 in 2020, to a low of 9 in 2023.
The following are some suggestions for inducing graphomania.
Write every day.
Do not rewrite. That is bullshit taught to you to keep you from overcoming your teacher, who is your competitor.
Do not give this evil world your best hours. Write before you go to work.
Meditate on your next piece, on tomorrow’s writing, on your way home from, or ideally at, work.
Create the next document file when you get home from work, maybe even a quote or a memory cue.
When you wake, before heading to work, write that article or chapter.
A part-time writer with a full-time job should write 7 articles or chapters per week. I shoot for 15. My best month was 185. 40 has been my median for a year now as my body fails in the flickering shadows where the muses wail ever for more…
Don’t let one piece get over 2,000 words. If the scene needs more words or the article subject deserves more, than break it into 3 parts, not 2, but 3. You stumbled upon something important here. Now you have 3 posts or chapters over 1000 words, out of 1 idea. Reader attention falls off after 2,000 words, precisely when you start to get tired. Respect that.
Write hungry. You can eat when you’re on break at work.
Write thirsty. Save your coffee for proof reading and beer for celebrating.
After you write your piece, go shower, shave, get that cup of coffee, and come back and proof the piece.
Write when you are horny, not after you just got laid.
Save your day off for writing only one piece, but then reading the week’s work for a second proof. That day off should also be reserved for arranging text...which gets us to this.
I have accidentally erased two entire books, including Thunderbird, and had to rewrite them from memory.
Make a book or project folder.
Make a front matter and dust cover document for the book or collection. This is your creative reference that saves start up energy while you create—this is the stone muse that you set in place for your future writing self along that thread.
Write each chapter, scene, article separately as its own document.
Do not waste writing time arranging these chapters in one document. Save that for a third and final proof, when you proof each chapter, paste it into a fresh draft document, and complete your work.
This system permits you to do set up when you are tired, create when fresh, and manage, tweak and judge your work when the freshest.
In case you write on more than one topic.
Think like a producer, not like a server.
Here is how I learned that, by working in supermarkets as a grocer. The night clerk, the mini goon who unloads trucks, breaks down pallets and loads and fronts shelves and builds displays, is 5 to 20 times more productive than the day clerk. This is why.
We order a 70 case pallet of 24 packed Green Giant vegetables. It does not come from Pilsbury like that. The wholesaler has some other goon take green beans, peas and corn and build a pallet—if we are that lucky and we don’t get three 1/3rd pallets of cans underneath soaps, bag dog food and cake mix. Now, the green beans are 30 cases, peas 22 and corn 18. The day clerk only fills sold out items, which means he has to dig under the peas and corn to get the green beans, bust his ass for a single case. The night clerk pulls the pallet to the display, and builds the display in the order he gets to the item.
That is retail food Blitzkrieg, which was lighting warfare that was achieved by one means, by exploiting the path of least resistance. Do not beat your head against the wall on that article that needs citations. Write whatever the research is in on. Pick the low hanging fruit first. That will make you better at picking, which will increase your success picking higher on the narrative tree.
If you are writing a novel, and chapter 1 is giving you fits, write chapter 2. Then return to 1 armed with some hindsight.
Do certain types of writing in the maximum setting. In Portland and Pittsburgh, with TVs blaring all over the house, I write history, as the subject matter, the primary documents I work from, sucks my mind in.
Here, in Selek, at the base of Cedar Mountain, with the high winds blowing the monstrous fronds outside this pump room window, as the steel stanchion shriek up on the mountain, I write horror.
Speaking of which, extreme sleep deprivation helped me write, and even caused, a few horror novels and stories.
I write humor best when drunk, fiction best when lonely, verse best when in severe pain.
Map your own inner writing monkey, so you may best serve him when he mounts your back and cracks that weird whip.
Thank you, Damien and Mister Grey.
PS: 1/3/24
As a full time writer with bad eyes, my ideal writing situation is where I am now. I wake to write fiction, then do 2 hours physical activity to rest eyes and limber wrecked body. Then I write 2 more hours in the afternoon. That should net two fiction chapters.
Instead, yesterday, I wrote nonfiction, in part because I heard a young writer could use some help. But also, because I wrote a chapter in Nihil yesterday, a novel I must put away until the 28th while I finish SPQR and Slave. [1] I listened to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall while sleeping, to prep for writing of a fictional Rome that never fell.
The main site is booked out through mid July—so I’d be a creep for making you wait that long and my retarded ass still cannot figure out how to get to my email account. Lynn says she has blocked the hookers and publishers and deleted the stuff she takes care of and I still have 80 email to attend—real emails, not junk. That is the kind of stuff I take care of at night, while tired.
-1. SPQR can be written anywhere, requiring only loneliness. Slave must be written here, where I outlined and set it last year. Nihil is to be written on location in San Jose across three visits. I did the front matter in the first week of December, wrote only the prologue yesterday, that one chapter alone set on the train to the setting.
‘I’m Sorry’
logic of force
blue eyed daughter of zeus
advent america
'in these goings down'
plantation america
let the world fend for itself
winter of a fighting life
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