Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

More on writing in Tangier

As I mentioned in my last post, I just got back from a writing retreat in Tangier. Not only was it hugely productive but it shifted my thinking about my career.

I originally got into writing with the dream of having a successful career writing both fiction and nonfiction. Well, the nonfiction part happened and the fiction didn't. Oh, sure, I've had several short stories published and a novel that has received good reviews and poor sales, but the vast majority of my effort has gone into developing my careers as a history and travel writer.

I need to change that. No, I'm not quitting my day job unless one of you happens to be rich and wants to be a literary patron, I'm just shifting emphasis. You see, I was really happy for those ten days on Tangier. I was doing nothing but writing a novel and getting into random situations that informed my novel. Like meeting Arabs, Berbers, and Saharawis. Like meeting French millionaires and children addicted to sniffing glue. Like wandering through the market at night and discovering that it smells of popcorn.

I'd spend long hours in cafes and in the courtyard of my pension writing it all down and working some of these details into the developing story. I delved into my protagonist's head. I immersed myself in the story.

I haven't been doing enough of that. Over my 13 year writing career I've squished my fiction writing time in between my nonfiction research and writing. It's always been secondary; now it's going to be a priority.

So I've changed my habits. Now the first thing I do in the morning is fiction, not email or blog posts or the thousands of other things that demand my attention. The email is being drastically cut down. When I returned after ten days offline I found more than 500 new messages in my inbox. In half an hour I was done looking at them. I read and responded to all the important one and the ones from friends and deleted the rest. Yes, it's really that simple.

Have you had a shift in your writing career? What prompted it?


  1. Good luck with the change in priorities, Sean. I do like reading your travel info, but yes I'm happiest when writing fiction too. I did envy your writing retreat. I could use one of those.

    It's good to assess priorities and re-boot. I do less blogging and more writing. I need more product.

  2. Glad you're excited about your fiction writing now.
    That I wrote more than one book was a big shift for me. Just have to decide if I'll continue.


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