I have been working 12-hour nights for the past 3 days and along with that comes a mixture of good as well as bad. I am a morning writer, meaning I write best early in the morning right after I get up. There's a few reasons for this: I'm well rested; The house is very quiet; There are no distractions. In the days leading up to my having to actually go into work I stay up later and later at night making the transition easier. One would think that after my wife goes to bed that I would be able to sit down at the computer and get some writing done in the quiet of the night. Such is not the case though. My body wants to go to sleep and I find it nearly impossible to concentrate on writing. So, instead of making progress, I watch movies.
My long night shifts run from 6:30 pm until 6:30 am. I usually get to bed around 7:30 in the morning and sleep until 2:30 pm. It is not possible to get any writing done from the time I wake up until the time I have to go to work. Night shift however, can offer significant opportunities to write. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights are usually very quiet with hardly anything to do other than sit around. It is during these late hours when I can write. The last few nights have been quite productive and Peacekeeper 2 now stands at just over 13,000 words. If you're familiar with word counts, a good-sized novel runs around 80,000 words.
If you follow this blog, you will also recall that I do not outline before writing. When I begin a novel I do so with a general idea of what the story will be about. I may have a few scenes firmly in mind that I need to work toward but other than that the story pretty much writes itself. This has led to some interesting surprises for myself which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing. You would think that an author could not be surprised by the twists and turns the story he is writing can take - but it happens. Ideas pop out of nowhere; little things that appeared earlier in the story suddenly become very important; characters do the unexpected; and events don't turn out like I thought they would. I let my subconscious do what it does best - tell a story.
One of the most difficult parts of writing this latest novel has to do with creating an alien culture. This is not as easy as one might think because we have no reference to base things on other than our own culture. As a writer, especially as a writer of science fiction, one should have at least a little background knowledge concerning the wide range of cultures that exist on this planet. Some of them might seem as bizarre as something you would see in an alien culture. For example: Mixing the ashes of your new years resolutions with wine and drinking them; Cutting up the body of a deceased individual and leaving the pieces scattered around a mountaintop for the animals to consume; Belching loudly as a sign that the meal just consumed was of good quality. If one looks closely enough, one can find alien cultures here on Earth.
The point I'm making with this is a writer must learn how to broaden his knowledge of culture. If you write mystery, don't focus on reading it. If you write science fiction, you will need a very broad range of knowledge in many sciences as well as many cultures. If you write romance, read about the dark side of falling in love as well. Continue to expand your horizons beyond the narrow field of your own specialty.
Never stop learning.