Visual Surveillance of Extremities

That phrase will be familiar to anyone who has read Stephen R. Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, a series which was an absolute favorite of mine when I was younger but which I haven’t read in years. (I stared a re-read sometime in the early years of this blog, but never finished got beyond the first book, for no reason that I recall — I still liked the first book.) Donaldson is presently writing the third Covenant series, this one a tetralogy, which I intend to read at some point. SF Signal has an interesting interview with Donaldson, which includes this bit about process:

First, I’m a person who has to concentrate-and concentrate exclusively-in order to accomplish anything. And second, I’m not a “facile” writer: I write slowly, with much sturm-und-drang. So I knew from the start that I can’t afford to just grab time when I can, or to wait for inspiration to strike. I have to make steady progress every day, or I’m doomed. (A music critic named Newman said of Beethoven, “Great composers do not compose because they are inspired. They become inspired because they are composing.” I don’t claim to be a great writer-how would I know?-but that’s one of my mottos.) And soon after I got going on Lord Foul’s Bane, I learned another crucial lesson: I have to pace myself. If I write as much as humanly possible one day, I’ll probably find myself too stunned to write anything the next. So I developed an approach which has served me well ever since: I’m in my office 8 to noon and 1 to 5 five days a week; I always quit at quitting time, no matter how I’m writing; and I never (well, almost never) work in the evenings, or on the weekends, or on holidays, or on vacation. This enables me to keep going day in and day out, week after week, month after month, until the first draft is complete. (Revision presents a different set of challenges, but I approach it in the same way.)

For some reason I’m always interested to read about writers’ processes.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Visual Surveillance of Extremities

  1. Call me Paul says:


  2. Call me Paul says:

    Also, when does the fourth book come out? Because that's when I'm prepared to start reading the first one.

  3. Kelly Sedinger says:

    Not until next year, as far as I know.

  4. M. D. Jackson says:

    That`s how I wrote my first novel — just had to sit and plug away at set times or It would never have gotten done.

    I don`t have the luxury of that now so writing is a bit problematic. It happens in between painting and life, which means that there`s damned little of it.

Comments are closed.