Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Author’s Corner: The Creative Period

I was recently asked in a workshop how I find time to write. I had just surprised the audience when I asserted that I can write a 90,000 novel in 100 days. I have done this twice this year and would keep writing if I didn’t have to attend to marketing and promotion. All this while holding down a challenging full-time job and being an active and involved husband, father and community member.

Finding a couple of hours on a road trip

Many authors have their own personal framework: the sacred space in the house, listening to music, the writer’s retreat, and many more. Whatever works for you is right, but my desk in our kitchen. I swivel my chair around and I am at the dinner table. I can write in coffee shops, on the BART train ride as I commute, while several boys enjoy a rambunctious play-date in our tiny house.

It is a state of mind. When I am writing a novel, I am in an intimate relationship with my characters. Given that I do not plan my novels, I am absorbed in the plot, sharing the thrill of what might happen next, just as my readers and characters do.

I am able to switch off, to leave my characters while I focus at work or home, and switch back on when I have an hour to write. What I do think is important is that I am writing consistently. When I am in the creation process, I must write every day. In fact, I suspect that I can become quite insufferable when I am not keeping up with my characters.

Writing our 1st Fantasy novel on a camping trip - a team effort!

It is an amazing thrill, a rush, to see the novel taking shape under my fingertips. It is what makes the periods between writing so frustrating, and what keeps me coming back for more.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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