I have been thinking about frameworks. I was talking to a writer friend yesterday about deadlines. He is a prolific journalist and absolutely, non negotiably, needs the eleventh hour rush of adrenaline to get it done. His process--what a horridly artsy yet weirdly sausage factoryish sort of word--requires a superimposed structure. His 1200 word article will happen as soon as it has to happen--has to happen because of an external rather than internal mechanism.
Lots of writers work this way. It takes huge amounts of confidence. To know that at any point you can flick a switch, turn the cranks and there will be work you are willing to show someone--amazing.
I am not like that.
"I don't need deadlines," I told him, sounding provincial and self contained.
"Sure you do," he said. "You just get in there first. A deadline is just a way of making yourself write when worry you can't. You have that."
And he was right. I have a strict, self sustaining, near ritualistic process of writing. I have a mechanical system of getting the words onto the page:
-Turn on the computer before I do anything else.
-Write four pages.
-Stop after four pages.
-Write even if I have nothing to write.
-Take one day off a week.
And creatively, I am equally and bizarrely strict but there is only one rule:
A storytelling bumble bee of random, elusive, hazy, unformed thought will go flying over the even squares of my brain. Follow it. Do not worry about the destination, the end of the story, the end of the sentence. Follow it. It is going somewhere fun.
My journalist friend was right.
And... terrific news! Sharon Kay Penman just wrote to me and wants to do an interview before Exit the Actress comes out in February. I am over the moon!