David Annandale on Practical Matters

For a new feature, “Practical Matters,” I ask a handful of practically minded questions to a group of writers (then later, ask a new group a set of new questions).

David Annandale writes fiction in a variety of genres, including SF/fantasy, horror, and thrillers, and non-fiction about film and video games. He teaches courses on film, games, literature and creative writing at the University of Manitoba. You can find him online at www.DavidAnnandale.com

How do you decide what you’ll work on, when you sit down to write?

Deadlines determine that for me. Whatever is due first, is what gets first attention.

Do you keep a writing schedule, with any sort of quotas?

I find it difficult to maintain a regular schedule, and so go with the quotas instead. During the summer, I try to keep to 2000 words a day. During the university year, 1000 words a day.

What stops you from writing?

Apart from the normal, healthy demands of a day job and family life? Letting myself get distracted by that combination resource and time-waster, the Internet.

What is the worst advice about writing you’ve ever heard or received?

Though it was presented more as indirect advice (what one particular writer, whose name I now cannot recall advocated), the worst idea I’ve every heard was to discard any story ending thought of before actually arriving at that ending. If I don’t know how a story ends before I begin, I might as well issue an open invitation to writer’s block to make itself at home. In the genres I write in, not having the ending in place from the start is, I think, fatal.