We all know how talented Kristin Cashore is, what with creating such a wonderful world with her Graceling books, and in her blog, she breaks down what her work process is:
For one hour or so, I reread and ponder the responses of my early readers and my own notes (as I blogged about recently).
For maybe two or three hours, I look back over the revising I did yesterday and all the days before, getting a second look at my revisions and changing things here and there.
For maybe an hour or an hour and a half, I push forward in the book, maybe revising one more chapter.
I find I’m working anywhere from two to seven hours in a session (with a lot of breaks), depending on what else I’m doing that day and how quickly I get mentally drained. I never sit down intending to work seven hours – generally that’s too much, too draining – but occasionally I’ll look up and be startled to see how much time has passed. (This happens more often in summer than winter – the sun sets so late!)
Sometimes I only skim the responses and notes. Sometimes I never get to the third step, where I’m pushing forward in the book. It all depends on what’s happening that day. If I have a sudden revelation about why one of my characters has been behaving the way she’s been behaving, for example, I may spend the entire session starting again from the beginning and revising with fresh eyes.
Also, about those breaks I take – they involve a lot of resting my writing mind while listening to music. Especially, though not exclusively, a wide variety of cello music, because cello is relevant to the manuscript I’m revising. I’ll probably write more about that at some point.
One more thing about breaks. It can be very hard, on a daily basis, to get started working. You can be overwhelmed with a feeling of “I just don’t wanna” and find yourself slow to begin… SO, it can feel really lovely on days when for whatever reason you find yourself eager to get working. However, if I notice that it’s anxiety that’s making me eager to get working – if the writing has somehow convinced me that there’s some part of the novel I should feel anxious about, and should obsess over, RIGHT NOW, this needs to be fixed or something terrible will happen – I’ve come to realize that this means it’s time for a day off. I spend that day consciously rejecting thought about the writing, resting, and doing things to care for the anxiety instead. The next day, I am generally able to return to the manuscript refreshed and with unanxious purpose.
Sure, much of it sounds a lot like what we’d like to do on a daily basis as well, but there is actual work that needs to be done. You can read the rest of her blog on her site here.