Let’s Write the Jim Hines Way!

With apologies to Jim Hines. This is the title of the fake info commercial that we talked about at Icon in one of our goofier moments, but cooler heads prevailed early the next day.


Let me explain what’s different about my writing now that I write from 10:00-11:15 each day at work, instead of cutting out for larger tracks of time. What I do is this: I grab my computer and I leave my office, which is a bit of a fishbowl, and also where students will interrupt me even if I hang up signs saying not to, where my phone will ring, and where everything is still going on. I go to the second floor of our library and I sit in a study carrel with the rest of the world closed off to me by study carrel walls. The second floor of our library has been chosen because it is a quite study zone, so students do not talk to each other. Rather than sitting in the comfy chairs by the window where I can look outside, or people can see me, I am hidden and I focus on the task at hand.

The Internet on the second floor of the library is crap. It sometimes works. It sometimes doesn’t work. That doesn’t matter. I am not allowed to turn on the Internet until the end of the writing session, when I save my modified document on Google Docs.

Please notice that I’ve set myself up with minimal distractions, with the intent to write as much as I can for an hour. The fifteen extra minutes are the travel to and from the office time.


How is this working?

1. I get through about a scene a day. I start my day re-reading yesterday’s work, and making changes and sharpening it. Then I begin the next scene. The scenes are sharper, and I am more engaged in the story by writing every day.

2. I am enthused about doing the writing every day. The alternative is work, you see. 🙂 No, I love my job, but it is nice to use a different part of my brain in the middle of the day. It also helps me relax.

3. I feel like there is a great deal of forward movement.

4. Distraction does not keep me from writing, which it usually does in other settings.


Right now I am drafting this novel like Steven Gould drafts his novels, which is new. But Elizabeth Bear once said something to the effect that the writing process is different for every book. This book I’ve had four outlines, but they both collapse and expand, and right now I’m lengthening Venice and intrigue because I’m sending one character right to hell at a climactic moment (do not pass go, do not collect $200), and you need to give a damn about both the sisters. I’m getting there. As my friend Chris said, I may in fact have found my characters and that’s why the change.

Overall, then, what you’ve heard about writing every day is true. And what you’ve heard about getting off the Internet is true. So, why don’t we do it? These are the ancient questions of the universe. BTW, you can see interviews from Jim, Steven and Bear in the Authors and their Writing Processes page of the site, so you can see what I mean by throwing those names around.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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