Writers & Illustrators of the Future Blog

The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for winners, judges, entrants and anyone interested in sharing information regarding the contests and the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future volumes. For more information you can also go to www.writersofthefuture.com

Monday, April 14, 2008

WOTF Winner Steve Savile's Day...

Dear All,

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
500-1000 words.

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...


  • At April 14, 2008 at 11:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    1000 words a day, yeah, I can manage that, I tend to do that Saturday mornings. Therefore... 2000 words a day... might be possible (not that I actually write on 'work' days)... as long as I've got the plot in place. 4-5000 words a day - whoah! Exsqueeze me? I might just have to check out this novel (which won't be taxing as I enjoy the primeval tv series), to learn if the quality of writing is dire. How does anyone manage 4-5000 words a day and not produce drivel?

    Well done, Steve! PS: I like your journal idea.

  • At April 20, 2008 at 3:48 AM , Blogger Steven Savile said...

    It's a case of practice and a growing confidence in your craft to be honest. For a good ten years I was a 1,000 word a day maximum kind of chap - and I'd be sweating bullets to pull that off. The more you write the more comfortable the act of writing becomes, and the more deft your hand when it comes to editing - remember a vital part of the process is weeding the chaffe, polishing the kernals and hopefully getting yourself a nice pile of errrm, grain to tortuously extend the metaphor.

    Is the quality of writing dire? I should think not, a. because as a writer you need your product to have a level of accomplishment or you will lose readers and b, you never know who might stumble across it. It's hard to build a reputation for solid fiction, but easy to trash it.

    For me, those 4-5000 word days happen maybe 6 times in the duration of a novel, with 3,000 days being much more commonplace. They also have a set place in the book's structure, coming as the momentum of the story grows. It's been interesting to see the review process of this latest, it's featured in the London TIMES newspaper, and all sorts of places you would not expect a tv tie in to get noticed, and each one has observed how incredibly quickly the pace rattles along once it gets into its rhythm. It's part of the process...

    The trick with any media project is to be faithful to the original - the vocal patterns etc need to match the characters from the show. That's important. All of this kind of stuff comes into it.

    I've had a few votes for the journal, so it is likely to happen.

  • At April 25, 2008 at 12:10 PM , Blogger Shaun Farrell said...

    A Stargate novel? Is this from Fandemoneum, or from the U.S. publisher that has been sitting on Stargate for the last ten years?

    Cool stuff. Thanks.

  • At April 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM , Blogger Shaun Farrell said...

    Oh, never mind. Just read the older post. Cool.


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