Thursday, January 29, 2015

An Extreme Novelist

Kathryn Johnson, an author of 40 published novels, started our writing year off with a bang at the January meeting of the Carroll County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

An instructor at The Writing Center in Bethesda, MD, she has her students sign a contract to complete the draft of a complete novel in eight weeks. She encourages them to write at least 90 minutes a day for six days a week. The purpose is to establish a routine. That hopefully will develop into a habit if practiced for at least eight to 10 weeks.
Kathryn Johnson and Kerry Peresta
The Rule of 10,000 shows that practice is more important than having a gift or talent. A study of violinists showed that those who practiced at least 10,000 hours at their craft were the ones who became the most successful. So keep practicing, keep trying to write better and you will get better.

Many people like to write in the morning, when their brain is clear. It is easier for the subconscious to engage before we get busy with other every day events, she told the writers and  writers-to-be at the meeting. Write whenever you can. Find your most creative time and use it.

If necessary, write in small bits, such as waiting at the doctor’s office, or when small children are asleep. Find areas that help you create, such as the library, coffee houses or quiet rooms in your home. Many people can’t write at home because there are too many distractions. You can portion your writing time throughout the day.

Writing your novel will be easier if you have a basic outline or plan. It helps you to keep things straight. You need a beginning, middle and end. You need to know your characters and the book genre.

Don’t worry about writing well in the beginning, just get the first draft of your novel down. If you start to edit your work, your controller will kick in (telling you that you are wasting time, cheating your family, not writing well, or that it is not important).

“Get the whole thing down,” she recommended. Don’t look back. You are only allowed to write forward. You can write notes on the rough manuscript of areas that need more work or keep a journal of additional ideas and details you want to add to the earlier parts of the novel. After you have completed the basic novel, then it is time for revision.

In a nutshell, the basic process is:

1                     preparation
2                     rough draft
3                     revision

Her most recent book is The Gentleman Poet.  Search for more information at her website: