The Nighttime Novelist...accomplishes more in about 240 pages than a dozen other "how to write" or "craft your novel" books have ever done.

--Helen Gallagher/Blogcritics




Friday, December 3, 2010

Novel Journey Blog: On Preparation, Inspiration, & Time Management

Novel Journey has published a short piece of mine--"Off the Clock: On Preparation, Inspiration, & Time Management"-- as a guest blog today. To read it, as well as the site's many other great writing resources, click here.

My thanks to Novel Journey!


  1. Mr. Bates, "The Nighttime Novelist" book is an actual miracle, if I may say so. Teaches the craft with sincerity and verve, and weaves a tapestry of inspiration to illumine the pages, to boot!

    What do you usually think about most in the "non-writing times"? Do you often think about the scenes you've written? And do you make many changes throughout your first draft, or do you just write at breakneck speed until the end, take a breather, and then dive back in at the beginning for the edit?

    Thank you for the Night Time Novelist, once again!



  2. Thanks for the kind words, Nathaniel!

    I spend my non-writing time working out logistics...thinking about where I left off, what might happen next, and how the choices will further the story and character arcs. In the long term, I have a few big scenes in mind for the book as a whole, and I know how I want it to end, but I don't know on a day-to-day basis how I'm going to get there. The non-writing work helps me get there a scene and chapter at a time.

    There's a quote from E.L. Doctorow that I use in the book (and love): "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

    I guess you could say that with my non-writing work, I'm trying to make my night-driving easier...trying to identify the straightest path, when I need to get to a point quickly, or finding a curvy path if it'll be fun to drive. But at the very least I'm trying to recognize which roads will be dead ends, and which would have me backtracking instead of moving forward.

    When I get up from a writing day, I often don't know where the story is going next. But by the time I sit back down, I know for sure, even if it's just for that night's writing. And as I keep working this way, just as far as the headlights can see, I suddenly find I've written myself right up to those big moments I had in mind all along, and got there in a way that has a momentum of its own and feels right.

    I love writing quickly when I can, and the non-writing work allows me that luxury--it means the story is that much ahead of me, and now I'm running just to keep up with it. But the slowest (and least fun) days are when I haven't put in the work away from the desk, when all possible paths are still open to me, and I have to test them at the keyboard. Most of those days are spent in reverse, backing myself out of the ditches I've put myself into.

    Thanks again for the kind words...and all the best in your writing!