Walter’s Process: Writing Every Day

Walter Mosley

Lesson time 15:08 min

Rule number one: Write every day. Walter explains why this rule is nonnegotiable.

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Topics include: Commit to Writing Every Day · You Have to Will Yourself to Do It · Getting to Your First Draft · Rewriting Is Where the Novel Lies · When to Know Your Draft Is Done · Yes, You Have to Write Every Day


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Many times, people ask me-- they say, what is my writing process? Often, I start by telling them-- by telling you-- what is not my process. I don't have a special chair, a special room, a special desk, special music, special incense, a special place in town. I write wherever I am, and I write whenever I wake up in the morning. I had too much to drink last night, I may not get up until 11 o'clock and write. But usually, I wake up about 5:00 or 6:00, and I write for three hours almost every day. My goal has always been to write 1,000 words-- not 1,000 perfect words, just 1,000 words. I do that on, let's say, Monday. I wake up, 6 o'clock, write three hours, 1,000 words. Next day, I wake up at 5 o'clock. I start writing. The first thing I do is reread that 1,000 words I wrote yesterday and make very small editing on that. And then I write my next thousand words. And that goes on and on and on and on until I get to the end of the novel. When I tell you that you should write every day, I'm speaking to exactly 99% of you. Most people get the best work out of getting up every day and writing for three hours. And when I say get up-- a lot of people write in the middle of the night. OK, fine. If that's the best time you write, that's what you should be writing. You will find, if you write every day, that the next day, ideas have bubbled up from someplace that you had no idea were there-- ideas about oh, yeah, that reminds me of my mother. Oh, no, a black bird will be sitting in the window. Oh, I think that after this, they're going to go somewhere else. The ideas that start bubbling up are from these unconscious places. You've written for three hours, and then for the next 21 hours, your unconscious is working saying, what was that about? What was that about? And they're-- and they reach into different parts of yourself and bring out all of these new ideas. After 100 days, when you go back and reread what you've written, which is the first rewrite, you'll say, hey, I've been mentioning that black bird all through here. I wonder what that means. Or I've been repeating this word so many times. I better get rid of that. What you're doing is you're discovering yourself. You're discovering yourself as the storyteller as you're writing the novel, and that's the unconscious element of the work. If you stick to my schedule of writing for two to three hours every day, you will have a completed novel in a year's time. You'll write and write and write and finish a draft. Maybe it's three months. Maybe it's four months. Then you'll start going over it and over it and over it. Every time go over it, it's a draft, even if you only change one word. Then you will maybe you have a friend read it or somebody else read it. Maybe you'll read it out loud into a tape recorder. Maybe you'll do a public reading, you know, where people do these things, in coffee houses or something. But by the end of that time, you will have a dece...

About the Instructor

Walter Mosley, bestselling author and recipient of the National Book Award’s Lifetime Achievement Medal, has written more than 60 books over his 30-year career and is celebrated for fiction that addresses our culture’s racial divides. Now he’s sharing the elements of storytelling that have helped him along the way. Learn how to choose the right words, structure, genre, and characters to create the novel that’s in you.

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Walter Mosley

In his MasterClass, Walter Mosley teaches you how to rethink genres and the “rules” of fiction and how to approach writing your own novel.

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