Pauline Rowson on writing routines

There are writers who write the same time every day come what may; others who will write a certain number of words a day and when they've done their quota, they'll knock off.  Some authors will hide themselves away for a set number of weeks dedicated to writing, others will only write during certain months of the year. Me? I have no real set routine but I do like to write every day, speaking engagements permitting.

Some days when the words flow or I am at a critical stage of writing - usually at the end of the first draft of a novel - I am keen to crack on and write as much as I can. This can result in me spending up to seven hours, maybe more, sitting at my computer.  Not terribly good for the posture or the wrists.

Other days I will struggle to find the correct words and the creative flow will trickle to a halt. If the latter happens I usually pick up my knitting, do some sewing or go for a walk while my mind works away at the snag with the plot or with a character.

But writing isn't only about pounding away at a keyboard, writers also spend a great deal of time staring into space - thinking! (That's where the knitting comes in handy, I can knit and think at the same time). 

A good place to put a body?
Writing a novel also involves research and because my crime novels are set in the area in which I live I do a lot of research on location walking DI Andy Horton's patch which is Portsmouth, the Solent and the Isle of Wight  on the South Coast of England. (Alright so I can't walk on water but I can traverse the Solent by boat).


My mind is constantly working, thinking through the plots or sub plots and developing characters. Time will also be spent mapping out the plot lines and developing and researching the background of my characters, their personalities and motivations.

All my initial plotting and character construction is executed in pencil on recycled paper and each character is bound together with a good old fashioned India tag, the same for the plot outline. My work in progress stays on my desk until the novel is completed. I do some research before I begin writing, but a great deal more as I write. As long as I have an outline and some characters to begin with, I can start the creative writing process, which is really important for me, because until I start to write and put words into the characters mouths they don't come alive. When they start breathing, speaking and taking action then the plot also begins to develop.

As to the actual writing tool - it is straight on to the computer for me, so easy for editing.

Getting that first draft right is the longest part of the writing process for me and usually takes me two/three months. It being a crime novel I want to surprise the reader, and myself, so when I begin I often don’t know who the villain/killer is or sometimes it turns out to be someone completely different. And that means a rewrite. Once I've cracked the ending though there is a certain pleasure in going back over the novel, fleshing out the characters, making sure all the clues and red herrings are in place, that there is variety in the scenes and in the pace, then it’s questioning each word and passage and generally testing my prose until I feel the novel is the best I can possibly write, and even then I always feel I could do better!

And when I'm not doing all the above there are copy edits to be checked and proofs to be read and another novel to be written…  The cycle goes on.  I'm currently writing DI Andy Horton  number eleven, as yet untitled. 

And which part of the writing process do I like the most? All of it, because I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t enjoy it.

Undercurrent (DI Andy Horton 9) was published by Severn House in May 2013 

Death Surge, (DI Horton ten) will be published by Severn House Publishers in the UK and Commonwealth on 30 September 2013 and in the USA on 1 January 2014.


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