HOW I WRITE: Brian Staveley's Igloos for Dummies

We've asked some of the best and brightest genre authors in the world to give us a little glimpse into their working life and today Brian Staveley, author of The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire (both out now) and The Last Mortal Bond, (out in paperback tomorrow), invites us to join him at the idyllic watering hole where he pens his masterpieces, threatened now by the oncoming change in season . . .

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Winter is coming, and this is a bad thing for my writing. There was a time when I loved writing in the winter; I’d sit down somewhere warm, drink twelve to fifteen cups of coffee, and lose myself in the story. Winter seems like a good fit for the crafting of tales; up here in Vermont the snow can get as high as the windows and it gets dark at 4pm. I like sledding by the light of the bonfire as much as the next guy, but eventually the weather forces me inside, and then I write.

Or I would write if it weren’t for the f***ing internet. The internet is my greatest foe. The more years I spend writing full-time, the more the internet gets its poisoned claws into me. When I first started out, I might check email every couple of hours, glance over the headlines, then get back to work. These days, however, I feel like I’m always online. Part of this is due to the nature of writing itself. One thing I didn’t anticipate about this job is how much of it takes place online. There are agents, editors, and lawyers to email, fans to chat with, promotions to run, websites to update, blogs to write. A lot of it is great fun—but it all distracts from writing. I’ll find myself going to send one email . . . and an hour later I’m updating my woefully out of date Amazon bio. Good for the bio; bad for the book I’m contractually obligated to write.

But I have a solution! It’s called THE LAKE. This is a small public lake in the middle of my town. It’s gorgeous and peaceful, but most importantly, there is no WiFi at the lake. All summer, I have taken my computer there fully charged each morning. I sit in a folding chair and type away. When I get distracted, I listen to the loons. I love loons, but one can only listen to them for so long. Loons do not distract in the same way as Twitter. After a minute of the loons, I’m usually ready to work again.

If I get really stuck on a point, I dive in and swim across the lake. It’s not a large lake—the whole swim takes less than twenty minutes—and when I’m done, I feel refreshed, motivated, excited to keep working. After spending time on the internet, by contrast, I feel irritated and hungover.

The lake plan has worked flawlessly all summer long, but now I’m scared. The days are getting shorter. I’ve moved from t-shirts to sweaters, but in a month or two, I’ll have to strap on my skis to get there. I have no idea how my laptop will fare when the temps dip below zero. It’s a crisis I’m facing here, but I have an idea. I’m off to the internet now to download Igloos for Dummies . . .