When Scott and I first met, we each still had children in our houses and 9-5 jobs. We had baseball and soccer and football and ballet classes and music lessons to chauffeur children to and from. So when we decided to try writing a novel together, we had one evening a week together that usually started around 7pm and ended at 11pm – If we were lucky. For those of you who have ever tried to follow a dream and been in this same position, you know, it makes for very slow going. That first novel, a military espionage, was only 63,000 words but took us three years to write.
When we finished, we knew we wanted to try our hand at a second novel. By then, each of us was on shift work at different jobs. We both worked weekends but we were able to arrange to have the same day off during the week. This meant once we had the kids off to school and our spouses off to work, we now had about 6 ½ to 7 hours to write during a session. We had our first 1000-word day during that time and we thought we’d have that second book, a thriller, written in 6 months. It actually took 2 years and was 85,000 words.
By time we started writing the third novel, the kids could drive themselves to school and to their extra-curricular activities. They didn’t want time with us but with their friends. Our spouses realized this wasn’t just some hobby for us and started encouraging us. We still had jobs and responsibilities, however, but now we had 10 to 12 hours at least once a week to write and sometimes another evening to write. We learned how to maximize that time together. We still made sure the kids and spouses were up and moving but now we were getting together at 8 in the morning, having breakfast and strategizing the day’s writing. We blocked the book very meticulously and didn’t stop writing until we had at least 1200 words for the day. We didn’t stop just because we’d written 1200 words, but our day couldn’t end until we did.
That third novel was The Children of Cain: House of Dvanaesti, the 1st volume in what we currently plan is a 5-book series. It is 103,000 words and took 18 months to write. It was the first novel we looked at each other and said, “Now, this is a publishable story.” It encapsulates every genre we like to read; vampires, military, politics, and thrillers.
After finishing the third novel, and even though we knew we wanted to write a series, we didn’t write the next novel in the series, but started a science fiction novel completely different from anything else we’d written. During that time, my bride received a career opportunity we couldn’t pass on, so she and I moved literally across the country. I’m now two time zones behind Scott and we are back to square one.
So this is what a writing day looks like for us. We each get up, go to our jobs, work an 8+ hour day. We get home, take care of whatever chores we need to take care of, get a little dinner, fire up the computers, log into Skype, and write for 4-5 hours – If we’re lucky. We get to do this one night a week, but we do it. We would love to get up every morning knowing we’re getting together to write that day, and we believe that day is coming. Until then, we will keep writing.
Now we are different from other writing partnerships in that we write together. We don’t divvy up the chapters for each to write and then send to the other one to read. When it’s time to decide what to write next we each throw out ideas we’ve had or revisit ideas we had together while we were writing. We keep tossing out ideas until we find the one we both immediately get excited about. We then brainstorm that idea and the possible characters. We write everything down and eventually a story and characters begin to take shape. We then fortify that shape with blocking until the characters and events start telling us their story. We can’t do that if we’re divvying up chapters. They don’t tell us their story separately.
Scott’s strength is the ability to see the big picture and mine is the details. Again, it would be difficult for us to get either the big picture or details right if we weren’t together. And we enjoy each other company. We have more fun writing than should be allowed. Okay, maybe not ‘should’ but I think you know what I mean. Even when we’re writing a dark or violent scene, we still laugh a lot. Of course, our brides believe this is because neither of us is right in the head.