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Writing Time
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I feel as if I should comment on the progress of our writing. The idea worries me because there's no quicker way to kill a project, I've found, than talking about it. Inspiration has a way of escaping out the mouth.

Nevertheless, since I wouldn't be inclined to speak in detail about a mystery book, and give too much away, I suppose it is safe to report that Mary and I have completed the outline for Six For Gold, the new novel about John, Lord Chamberlain to the Emperor Justinian.

Coming up with an idea (or refining one of those we always have simmering), a mystery puzzle, characters and a plot, takes about two weeks of actual work, over the course of a longer period, to give things time to brew. I know it takes that long because I keep careful track. Working freelance and having to juggle contractual commitments, it pays to know how long a given task usually requires.

Is there any writer for whom time isn't in short supply? For the majority of us who make a living doing something other than fiction, the challenge is just to find time to write. The succesful few who make a living off novels are probably chagrined that they have to devote so much time to book tours and publicity efforts. (I would be!)

People often ask for advice on getting published. Two of the most important tricks Mary and I have learned are the seven day work week and not watching television.

I grew up in a world where people worked Monday through Friday and had the weekends off, where the television set went on after dinner and stayed on until bedtime. Sadly, the five day week lengthed for most, but there are still extra hours to be gained by treating every day as a work day, with time off as an occassional occurrence, rather than something each week is structured around. And despite today's long working hours, television is still the great time waster it always has been. Not to say there is nothing ever worth watching on television, but its use as a narcotic is a social blight. I'm always reminded how far removed my attitudes are from societal norms, when I drive through the suburbs at night and see every single window illuminated by flickering blue television light.

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