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The Making of a Novel: The 7-Hour Stretch

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I wrote for seven hours today, which is an unheard-of stretch of time for me. I blocked off this chunk of time, however, because I needed to re-envision and re-engineer 37 pages, and I knew it would be a messy job. I hacked away big chunks of prose that I had already fallen in love with, and I erased 50 years off one character, whom I am changing from an old woman to a young woman (because I am changing the year in which the story takes place), and I spent a lot of time trolling the Internet for salient things that happened in this new era. It was exhausting and exhilarating and I loved it. It reminded me that the way I usually get my writing done -- in smaller chunks, day after day -- may not always be the best way.

I started thinking, in other words, of the cabin in the woods.

You know the one I mean: the cabin where no one bothers you. The cabin that doesn't have a phone. The cabin where you could spend 7 hours writing every day. For the vast majority of writers, the cabin in the woods is a myth. (Want proof? Here is a treehugger slide show of writers desks from around the world.) But the myth persists.

It was in my head today, that's for sure.

To read more about this phenomenon, read Ken Gordon's piece Cabin Fever, published several years ago in Poets & Writers. It's a fantastic article about the longing to get away for a stretch of time and do nothing but write.