As promised, here is an account by Steve himself of his day as a professional
writer. Steve quit his teaching job because he became so successful shortly after winning WOTF.
Here you go:
Okay, my day... in an ideal world I would be up and at it around 7 in
the morning, writing for about 4 hours til lunch, go down to the gym for
an hour and a half, then write until about 6:30... I can count the ideal
days that I have had on ooh an abacus with no beads on it... the truth
is I had to find a system that works for me. I like being around people,
so even though I have a great little office set up here at home I tend
to work in one of about five cafe's in southern Stockholm. I am 'one of
them'. I surface around 10 in the morning, because after all that was
why I gave up teaching in the first place, me and mornings are not
friends, and potter. I check email, watch something on the laptop, maybe
How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory right now, then go through the
three S's... well, I skip one of them, I like stubble, I pretend it
makes me manly. Then around 12 I crack the knuckles and sit down. I aim
for 1,000 words finished copy before I head out. Some days that's 90
mins work, somedays it means I don't leave the house.
But assuming I make it, I go down to either Limone, Brasco or JavaSavi,
which are all less than ten minutes walk from here. It's about moods for
the day, Brasco has a huge Al Paccino on the wall and is all black
leather and slick, JaviSavi is second hand shabby, and Limone does good
food, plus Sam the owner likes having a writer in residence.
I'm a boy, I like toys, so I have mobile broadband and can take the
office everywhere, I've also got a Nokia N95 which is one of these funky
8gb mobile phones that has my calendar, backups of work, and gps just in
case I get lost... ahem... a Palm TX with a bluetooth folding keyboard,
a 12" laptop which is about as light as laptops get. I'll pick a venue
depending on my mood, or where I was the day before, then settle down,
fire up one of the writing machines, or go old school and write longhand
in a gorgeous notebook if I want to tell a different kind of story (the
processes tend to change what comes out, I've found. I'll often write
short fiction longhand... don't know why). In the cafe I'll shoot for
1,500-2,000 words and aim to be home around 7 at night, when either me
or the better half will take turns cooking, then watch some tv, chat,
etc, until about 11, then I will settle in for the third bout... which
is often email, work displacement, and maybe squeezing out another
I aim to hit a minimum of 2,000 words a day but that isn't always
possible, and say with the last book, for the tv show Primeval, I had 4
weeks to write an 84,000 word novel... AND edit it... so I found myself
doing regular 4-5000 word days, and at the end, three 8,000 word days to
close the story off. I tend to find I am capable of writing a LOT in a
day, but if I do, then the odds are I can only sustain it for say 2 or 3
days, meaning I hit 24k in a week (3 8k days give or take a few
straggling words), or if I plod at around 3.5 a day, I'll hit you got
it, on a 7 day week, about 24k... it's kinda funny but I think that is
my natural output.
I juggle projects as well - that's a lesson I picked up from KJA - at
the moment I am writing the first Stargate book, a YA sf novel,
collaborating on a weird western fantasy novel, collaborating on a
coming of age horror novel and collaborating on something that I can't
really talk about much, but you'll find out soon enough I am sure. I
like the challenges of the collaborative process - I am a better writer
for it, for sure.
At the moment I am working very hard - but the love is still there. It
is still a thrill to open the mail and find a cheque... I mean a book...
Over the next couple of months I am going to adopt a slightly different
routine as I have to finish several projects all around the same time -
this will involve getting up earlier in the morning... urgh... and
editing the work of the day before, then writing project a. then in the
afternoon, working on project b. and keeping them rolling together.
I'm thinking of running a livejournal as well, doing short little pieces
about the evolution of the Stargate novel from page one, like an anatomy
of a novel lesson... but I might save it, write it as I go, and then
offer it as bonus material for the insane (ahem budding writers) so they
can see why choices were made, rationalisations of character, voice,
action sequence etc, because writing for an existing product like
Stargate is quite unlike doing your own material...
Oh, and I drink a lot of coffee...