Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Writers Do Between Novels?

Jeff Bennington 
Have you ever wondered what an author does when he or she is not writing? Like most people, we have day jobs, house work, kids to cart around, and bills to pay. Some of us… (eh hem)...  I mean some authors drink a lot of booze, and yet we love those writers inspite of their self-medicating habits. Some authors write everyday, making time to connect with their characters and continuing their work at the expense of quality sleep; hense the coffee addictions.

We certainly are a varied bunch.

But have you ever wondered what an author does between novels? What are their habits? How do they prepare for their next book? How much time, exactly, do they spend in research? Where do they come up with their ideas? It seems like some authors race from one novel to the next, never taking a break. And some write one book and think that that's all is required of them. Honestly, I've never asked what other authors do between novels, so I cannot speak for them. But I can tell you what I do.

The last three months have been very busy for me. I released Twisted Vengeance and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe simultaneously, without taking a break between production of the two books. So now that I'm feeling caught up with my writing, I'm ready for a rest.

Here's what I do between novels:
  • I usually reward myself with a good movie in place of my writing/editing time--once. I used to relax on the couch and find something good on Netflix. But now that I have a new reclining "work" chair in my office and a kindle fire, I just find a good flick from Amazon movies and watch it with my fire burning.
  • I also like to play a few extra hours of Modern Warfare on Xbox with my kiddies. Doing this puts my life in perspective (not the killing, but the time spent with the kids). And I do hang with them on other days… just more so when I've finished a book.
  • After I've enjoyed my movie and Xbox (yeah, I watch that little TV) I find a really good novel to read. I do this to relax and to study. I've made a habit of choosing a highly acclaimed book to sharpen my skills. Currently, I'm reading The Last Child by John Hart. I've never read his work but he's an award-winning New York Times bestseller. As much as I love reading my fellow indie authors, I still read works from the very best.
  • The third task on my post-production check list is to read one of my favorite books on writing. This month, I plan to read through Novelist's Boot Camp by Todd Stone, and to re-read a portion of Writing Like the Masters by William Cane. Both of these books offer a completely different perspective, but will help me sharpen my ninja writing skills.
  • One of my favorite things to do when reading a master-novelists work, is to copy a few pages of their work by hand. This is the equivelent of having Piccasso hold my hand, teaching me how a brush feels when making the perfect stroke. When I copy a writer's work, it feels like I'm studying their every word through a microscope, getting an up close and personal feel of each word, each phrase, and the emotion that it takes to lay down the text that the author so carefully chose to compose.
  • Through all of this, I spend several hours daydreaming. Yes, the thing my teachers in elementary and junior high criticised me for, is the one thing that has given me the greatest success both professionally and in personal fulfillment. I daydream about what I'm going to write next, making mental notes, imagining where my protagonist will take me. This is the time I begin to forge relationships with my characters and get to know who they are and what they want. By the time I begin writing I'm usually so full of excitement that I'm ready to explode into a million words. 
Well, that's what I do between novels? Would you like to know what I'm going to write next? I can't tell you exactly what it's about, but the book is called Henry Brooks, a pshycological suspense that's a cross between Forest Gump and The Village by M. Night Shyamalan. Interested? I hope so.

Incidentally, Creepy, my collection of scary and true ghost stories is going to be free on Wed. Mar. 14th.

Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.


  1. Hey Jeff, interesting. I'm a newbie and in-between writing (or editing, which I seem to be doing]g constantly, groan) I enjoy movies and reading, too. I just need regular infusions of external worlds I think. If not of my making, then they will be the fruits of another's imagination. X

  2. Great post, Jeff.

    Between books, I tend to read and watch TV a lot. Although not for long, I have to admit, as the next novel starts talking to me prior to finishing the one before and I can't help but use my down time to start making notes - whether I want to or not!

    Anyway, good luck with 'Creepy' and all the best with the novels.

    Suzie x

  3. DAYDREAMING YES!! It's provided me with endless inventive plot threads, world-building details, you name it!

  4. Like *some* writers, I drink heavily when I'm not writing.

    Ok... sometimes I drink heavily even when I am writing.

    I tend to feverishly pace my patio when a story is finished, coaxing the next plot out of my brain. I do sometimes relax with a movie, but not often. The one thing I ALWAYS do after finishing a good chunk of writing is spend time with my spouse, who accuses me of spousal neglect whenever I am deeply involved in a project. I always manage to find time for my kids, but my lover sometimes gets the short end of the stick.

  5. @Shah ~ I so look forward to vacations, to get out of the norm and see different worlds.

    @Suzie ~ Right now I have 3 book ideas spinning through my head. I feel like I need to slam my hand down and see which one is looking at ne when they stop, like flipping a coin. Thanks for reading!

    @Catherine ~ Why can't educators recognize the value in daydreamers. I am still scarred from those early days… no not really.

    @CA ~ Cheers, my friend. Between you and me, I too have written a page or two under the infuence. They may even be my best pages. Who knew?

  6. Interesting. These days, I'm always writing or editing. Always. I go from one project to another with little if any down time in between. Writing novels has become my full-time job and I suppose I'm a bit of a workaholic (who often drinks in the evening once the lid on the laptop is shut down for the night)

  7. Interesting concept. When I finish a book I start the next one. I figure I'm not getting paid to relax. On top of that, I've got readers that want the next book in and I just can't let myself deny them that right any longer than necessary. I remember waiting impatiently for the next book to read from many authors back in the antiquated days of traditional publishing and, frankly, it sucked. It's my goal to not deprive my readers of that same irritation. Especially when enough time passed that I lost interest and never picked up the next book.

    I do like some of your ideas though, in particular the one about copying the work of someone I consider talented / gifted. I may have to try that sometime and see if it does anything for me.

  8. I don't take breaks inbetween novels. As I start to feel completion of a novel, I start planning and daydreaming about the next one at the same time. I have to since my career has so far not even started. There's so much to learn and do and write before I can begin to be where I want to be and I can't take a break until I'm there. Not to mention that I think I'm a kind of slow writer, so that gets in my way as well.

  9. Interesting. Personally, I don't waste any time. I spent 3 years being unemployed which would have been great had the writing revolution taken place then but as it was I wrote a bit and did a lot of what you have described here. So now I write as much as I can. I have to make up for lost time before Amazon starts charging money to publish ebooks!

  10. I spend the time between novels trying to divest myself of my emotional involvement in the one I've just completed. I have a hard time letting go. So, I do further research into various elements of the story; I daydream about the characters and what they are doing now, after The End; and I listen to the writing music I used for that story. Gradually, I float to earth, and, with my mind beginning to clear, can turn my focus to another story. I find music that resonates with me and will underline the emotion of the next story, choose a title, and I get ready to type the first line. Because a story usually does not come to me until I'm actually writing it...it flows from the title and the first words I type.

  11. Good post! The characters in my head won't shut up until I start their books, so I tend not to take a break in between books. Instead, I take smaller breaks during the writing phase. Most of the time, I read but I have been known to go on baking sprees. Muffins are on the agenda for today.

  12. What a great post!!! I am currently between novels with my first having been published at the end of September and with the second - hopefully - published at the end of this coming September, so I am working on the second while still promoting the first. I am such a multi-tasker that I don't know that I really step away from my writing fully. I still read great books, watch tv and movies and hang with family while writing. For me, that inspires and motivates my writing. And then there's the day job which takes most of my weekday hours as it is!!!


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