I have been tagged by Robert Runte’ in a Blog Hop.
That means I was interviewed about my writing process by Robert Runte’ my editor and friend here on my blog, because he was tagged and interviewed on his writing process on his blog by Joe Mahoney who was in turn tagged and interviewed on…well you get the idea. The chain is long and distinguished.
Dr. Robert Runté is an Associate Professor at the University of Lethbridge. As an academic, editor, reviewer, and organizer, Robert has been actively promoting Canadian SF for over 30 years.
He was a founding Director of NonCon, Context89,, and SF Canada; and has served on the Boards of the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society, On Spec Magazine, Tesseract Books, and The Writers Guild of Alberta.
In addition to dozens of conference papers, journal articles, book chapters, and a half dozen entries in the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada , Robert has edited over 150 issues of various SF newsletters.
In 1989, his Guide to Canadian Science Fiction won an Aurora Award; he won a second Aurora in 1990 for his general promotion of Canadian SF. In 1994 he was honored as Fan Guest at the 52nd WorldCon, and in 1996 he co-edited (with Yves Meyard) the Tesseracts5 SF anthology.
More recently, he has been a regular reviewer for NeoOpsis Magazine, and was the scholar Keynote Speaker at the Academic Conference on Canadian SF&F, June, 2013.
Robert is also the editor extraordinaire of Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero.
Here are Robert’s questions for me.
Robert: The one thing I have never understood about your writing process is how you find the time to write as much as you do and still do your day job and meet the normal demands of family life, let alone find the time for your extensive involvement with with Boy Scouts, school author visits, and so on. When was the last time you slept?
Michell: <Laughs> It’s funny you should ask that question. I’ve recently started to pay attention to my sleep patterns and, apparently, I’m now down to about 6 hours per night. I used to think that if I didn’t get at least 8 hours every night I would die. It would seem that I can be overly dramatic.
Seriously though, I thrive on challenge so, to get my work done, I challenge myself with every project. I set deadlines and I stick to them. The writing gets done as life allows: on the train, in the evening during the week and in the morning on the weekend. Whenever I can find a few minutes.
That is only possible because my family is supportive and understanding. I have also almost given up watching television.
Robert: How do you balance working on so many different projects at once? You have regular podcasts, the Mik Murdoch novel series, editing a couple of anthologies, and a couple of freestanding novels on the go. Oh, and the blog. Do you allocate a certain time slot (e.g., Thursday evenings) for each one; or a certain number of hours; or a % of your writing time; or is it just a matter of focusing on each deadline as it comes up? Or do you switch from one to the other as you get blocked or bored with what you’re currently working on?
Michell: I try to only work on one project at a time in a given day to avoid mixing and confusing what I’m working on. I don’t have specific days for anything, however, my deadlines drive when things happen.
For example, my podcast, Get Published, is released every two weeks on Sundays. In order to put an episode together, I have to do my interviews, produce the audio and ensure that all post-production (including show notes) are ready by Sunday night (latest). So, I’m always trying to find interviews (usually Thursday nights) ahead of time for the show and I try to come up with additional topics to talk about. Sometimes I have two or three interviews ready at a time and sometimes I’m scrambling a little to get one put together.
I usually have four or five different things running through my brain at any one time. That’s probably why I only get 6 hours of sleep per night. That’s why deadlines are so important to me.
I know what I’ve committed to and when so I force myself to hit those commitments. It doesn’t hurt that I hate being late for anything.
Robert: You don’t seem like a guy who has a lot of trouble with writer’s block or procrastination. What’s your secret there?
Michell: I’m not sure I really have a secret. I know that I only have a limited amount of time to get things done so I plow through. Tough sections of writing take longer and I often have to go back several times to get the words right.
When I really am not sure what should come next, I go for a walk and force my brain into story mode. That usually results in the plotting moving itself along.
Robert: What is your writing process? Where on the “just sit down and write <–-> detailed notes /outline” continuum do you fall? Do revise as you go, or first draft and then revise? Any routines or rituals that need to be followed?
Michell: It totally depends on the project. I’ve done a couple projects that were meant to be stream-of-consciousness type writing (i.e. GalaxyBillies and Boyscouts of the Apocalypse) and I’ve done some (like my Mik Murdoch books) that are more plotted.
The stream-of-consciousness writing doesn’t get revised at all until the writing is done. The heavily plotted stuff is different. I usually reread the previous chapter prior to starting the next (whenever there is a break). I typically do some minor revision thing but nothing huge.
In both cases, I let the writing sit for some time (longer time for longer works) between writing completion and serious edits and revisions.
The only real routine I have is my walking and thinking through plot elements. When I walk, I relax and my mind is free to wander. It is easy to set my thoughts down the path to getting the ideas that I need. Then I come home and type it all in.
Robert: Your podcast, “Get Published” has had over 130 episodes of interviews with agents, editors, publishers, and otherwriters on how to get published. Out of all of those, what stands out in your mind as the most important principle or useful advice you’re heard so far?
Michell: There are several, actually. In no particular order: persistence, networking and not being afraid to try new things.
Too many authors are afraid to stray outside their own comfort zones and meet people or talk in front of people. Unfortunately, those are both necessary skills to have. If you don’t have them today, work on developing them like I did.
Regarding persistence, the difference between a published author and one who wished they were published is often a matter of who never gave up and kept trying to improve their writing until it was good enough to be published.
Robert: Anything else you’d like to add on your writing process?
Michell: I guess one last item of note is that I like to try different things; different genres, different Points-of-View and so on. To date, I have written fantasy, science fiction, horror, comedy, young adult, superhero and steampunk (there may even be a couple more that I’m forgetting). I’ve written in multiple POV’s and I’ve collaborated on both editorial projects and writing projects. I think by trying different things I stretch my own writing skills.
Here are the Two Bloggers I have Tagged
Jeff Hite, A.K.A. The Dark Lord Hite, A.K.A. Dr. Evil-n-Carnate, A.K.A. Steve Wolencheck, current occupant of cubical 3257J, affectionately referred to as “that jerk who eats lunch in his cubicle even though we have a lunch room and he really should eat there,” is first and foremost a husband and father.
He and his wife and their ten minions – I mean children – live in their orbiting space station. No, that burned up in the atmosphere last year. They live in their undersea lab. No, that is not right either, it fell to crush depth three months ago.
Well wherever they live, that is where you can find them.
By day he is an IT professional. By night, when he and his partner in crime, Alex the 486 Beowulf Super cluster are not trying to take over the world, they run the “sheep dating service,” also known as sheep breeding, for the local farming cooperative. When he can fit it in he writes short fiction about the fantastic, is a reader with Cast Of Wonders, and an assistant audio producer for Get Published.
He and his alter ego, Michell Plested, are co-editors of A Method To the Madness: A Guide To the Super Evil and the forthcoming book (now open for submissions) There is a Magic Portal Under My Sink.
He and his wife home school their minions – I mean kids – and teach NFP to anyone who will listen.
The rest of his life is devoted to his first love, his family, their chickens, sheep, dogs and now to appease the cat owners, one of those as well.
Despite what you may think, J.R. Murdock did have a normal childhood. If you consider swimming in lakes, playing hide and seek in the woods, and spending more time with his imagination than a television, then yes, it was normal.
There are those times when little voices will talk to him inside his head. This was never a frequent occurrence and he learned to ignore them. Most of the time.
His first book was attempted over several years (probably closer to a dozen) and somehow that book about Dungeon and Dragons characters just never really worked out the way he wanted it to.
Someday it might! Just you wait and see. Those characters will not stay down. They will have their story told!
I’m telling you here and now… Shhh, calm. Relaxed. Don’t scare away the nice people that have come to this page and might want to buy a book (or three).
Where were we? Oh, yes, the voices inside his head. They like to talk to at inappropriate times. Fortunately they also talk too at appropriate times and that’s when books happen.
Yes, the voices must have their story told or they just keep talking over one another and it’s just a big old jumbled mess and nobody will want to read anything like that, right? So it’s good that they get their chance to come out so that you’ll have something to read and enjoy.
When not listening to the voices inside his head, J.R. Murdock spends time with his wife and his favorite daughter (yes, there is only one daughter that’s why she’s his favorite).
They reside in sunny San Diego which is about as close to paradise as you can get and still be in a big city.