Author Corey Whaley On His Writing Techniques and Habits

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Wherethingscomebacklogo Since my last post, Good God Bird's Flight to a New Name, I’ve gone back to my “day job” of teaching public school. I’ve taught every grade from 6th through 12th, but this year I teach Gifted English to 7th and 8th graders and, while it is a completely different and amazing experience, it hasn’t left me much time to even think about writing.  

Most days, for the past month or so, I come home and take naps instead of working on storylines or drafting ideas for characters. I wrote, once before, about juggling work with writing and at the time I didn't realize that I am a completely unmotivated writer when I’m distracted. I know this to be the case because as soon as I get myself away from work for just a few days, I am drawn back to my laptop…sentences dangling on the edge of my mind.





Since all of this book business has come about, people often ask me: “What’s your writing regimen?” “How many hours a day do you spend writing?” “Do you set goals for yourself as far as how much you’ll write per week?”

And, sadly, the answer to all of the above is that I have no plan for how and when I write. Sometimes I go months without writing a word. Sometimes I go a few days. My most recent bout of writer’s block? Five weeks and counting.

So, do I let it stress me out? Do I succumb to the pressures of a world that is more comfortable with people doing things in a uniform, structured manner? Or, do I continue the way I’ve always done things concerning my writing—wait around until inspiration strikes me and then fly with as many words/ideas I can manage to get out in a single sitting? I prefer the latter. Why? Because, to me, that’s just the way I’m supposed to work at this. I know there are so many writers out there who spend hours a day pounding away at their keyboards or huddled on a sofa with a pen and pad or even talking into a tape recorder. But, for me, every time I try to introduce structure into my writing, I seem to fail miserably. With my first novel, I waited and waited and then, one day, I started up on page 14 after two years of waiting for the perfect combination of ideas to somehow piece themselves together in my brain, and then boom, I had a novel completed a month later.

Writing isn’t easy. It isn’t always fun. But, and this is my favorite part about it, it’s always personal. Everyone has his or her own way. I’ve learned that as a writer, but even more so as a teacher. Many of us were born to tell stories and it seems that, though it may take a lifetime for some and a few weeks for others, one way or another, we all find a way to share.

I’m so grateful to be a part of a community of individuals who share a passion for seeing the world through others’ eyes time and time again.  

Happy Writing,

Corey
 


Corey Whaley hails from Shreveport, LA, where he teaches seventh and eighth grade English. He signed with Ken Wright, a literary agent at Writers House, last fall using WEbook's AgentInbox query service. His debut novel, Where Things Come Back was purchased by Simon & Schuster early in 2010. Read more about Corey's amazing story, or pre-order his book!


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4 comments

  1. I can somewhat relate to this. I too often have trouble writing while distracted, and I'm usually distracted because I'm a high school student who is busy with homework or the attempts to avoid doing until the very last minute. I don't have a problem with coming up with ideas or words to write, however, but I can't always bring myself to write them down. I wish I could just sit down and write all day, but I don't seem to have the time or the drive to do it right now. Perhaps after I graduate, it will all be easier for me.
    I also think it's a good thing that you don't try to rush your writing. It often leads to very poor writing if you don't take the time needed to piece it all together in the best way possible.

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  2. You make some very good points, Stephanie.

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  3. I'm curious Corey whether your agent / editor have put any pressure on you to be developing book number two? And if so, do they support this approach?

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  4. Aimee,
    That's a great question. Being so focused on WHERE THINGS COME BACK and getting it ready for bookshelves hasn't allowed for much talk of a second novel. Because it's such a long process (usually 18 months at least from contract to shelves), there isn't any rush in seeing a second book. My agent has, however, read much of the one I'm working on and has discussed it with me. As far as their approval of my approach to writing-it isn't really something that's an issue...at least not as far as I can tell. I think they've worked with enough writers to know that we all have our own systems of getting the job done.
    I'm also happy to report that, as of yesterday, I'm back to work (slowly but surely) on novel # 2.
    Thanks,
    Corey.

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