Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Don’t try this at home

It turns out that the fellow who wrote The Remains of The Day (Kazuo Ishiguro) did so in a month-long frenzy of trancelike composition he and his wife referred to as The Crash. He wasn’t making much progress in his work before that and couldn’t seem to live up to his own critical reputation, so he went radical on himself and concocted this scheme in which he’d write for umpteen hours a day without distractions. He’d do it for four weeks. He’d break only for meals, and his wife would just have to bear with him. And he succeeded. He went a little nuts, but he succeeded, and the result was The Remains of The Day — easily his best known work.

This is why writers sometimes come off as a tad eccentric. To accomplish a novel, the writer has to seriously dedicate himself to it, think about it to the exclusion of almost everything else, sequester himself in a room with his writing tools and his imagination, and chisel his way through the rock that’s hiding a gem somewhere inside. It ain’t pretty. There was a time when I would get up at 4:30 in the morning to ply my scribbling trade, and I’d show up at work bleary-eyed but jazzed that I’d been able to push through a couple thousand words that morning. I did this for several years, and though the books I wrote in those days have never been published, they served as effective rehearsals.

I’m not sure I could do what Ishiguro did, which in a way was something of a NaNoWriMo of his own. I’m awfully fond of my daily routine. Through it, I’ve learned that if there’s some kind of mental obstacle in getting a book onto paper, then that particular book just has to wait.

How’s about you? Ever punish yourself — and your family — by doing an Ishiguro?

(Image via.)

13 comments on “Don’t try this at home

  1. islandeditions
    December 29, 2014

    A tad? Only a tad eccentric, you say? I take that as flattery!

  2. Charles Yallowitz
    December 29, 2014

    I’ve tried something like that. Doesn’t seem to work because I can’t get more than an hour without distractions of some kind. Maybe when I’m older. Though I have the utmost respect for a guy who can pull that off and not wake up cuddling divorce papers in a padded room.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 29, 2014

      At least it paid off for him. You gotta run a risk/benefit analysis on these things!

  3. sknicholls
    December 29, 2014

    It’s what I do best. I write in frenzied, unrelenting passion. Once a story gels with me, it’s a race to get it typed up and my husband knows to just leave me alone and once it is done things will go back to normal. Then comes the read through, and I still don’t want to be bothered. My daughter even knows there is no use calling me because I won’t be listening to what she has to say. I’m lucky to have the support I do. I know people Baker Acted here in FL for lessor offences.

  4. jcckeith
    December 29, 2014

    I have not done the month long frenzy to the exclusion of almost everything else but my husband did to write his book. He’s just that kind of person. When he is interested in something, he becomes single minded and purpose driven and spends all of his time doing it until it is done.
    To write my stories, I etch time into my day. I, like everyone else, am allotted only 24 hours each day so this means I have to take time away from something else – usually it is sleeping. It works out well since all of the distractions and people who need my attention are only awake between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. which leaves me from 10:01 p.m. until 7:59 a.m. to focus and write.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 29, 2014

      Yes, I’ve always been an “etcher” too. And that works for me. When you go the other way and binge, you have to realize that the binge must end at some point, but there’s always more writing to do. What then?!

      Thanks for commenting, and thanks for stopping by…

  5. John W. Howell
    December 29, 2014

    Nope. Try to do a Thousand words a day on the WIP. That’s it. It is amazing after 90 days or so it really adds up.

  6. Gretchen Getsinger
    December 29, 2014

    I’ve done days and weeks of a painting frenzy but never had time to do a month- long….

  7. 1WriteWay
    December 29, 2014

    Obviously I’m kinda into the binge thing since I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times. But note that none of those drafts are likely to turn into “The Remains of the Day,” so … maybe I shouldn’t fluff my feathers 🙂

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This entry was posted on December 29, 2014 by in Writing and tagged , .
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