Writing with Ken O’Neill

Every author has different writing techniques and processes that work for them, to help get their butt in the chair and do some writing.

Author Ken O’Neill shares his process.


Ed O'Neill blog tourGillian asked me to explain my writing process, which led me to take a break of two full days while I fretted and procrastinated.

When it comes to writing, I’m a dawdler.

If any authors are reading this post seeking advice, here goes: Do the opposite of my process, which is slow and agonizing. Unfortunately, I have had long periods of writer’s block. Of course, the only way to deal with that affliction is to write something. Anything!

The thing that helps me get over it—and actually, this is good advice—is to commit to writing for a period of time that feels completely manageable.  For some conscientious scribes that might be a thousand words a day.  For me, it’s two minutes. Yes, a day.

I imagine you are thinking that at that pace I’d never finish a book. But, for me, it’s a trick to get me to open the Word document. Knowing I only have to write for two minutes gets me to the computer because it’s two minutes. I can do that! Fortunately, many times the two minutes turns into two hours. Sometimes I even hit a thousand words.

So that’s how I get myself to do the work. But I need other things to keep me going.

First I need a character, or a moment, something to spark the idea.

In the case of George Bailey Gets Saved In The End, the spark came one day while doing my “two minutes.”  Seemingly out of nowhere I started writing a scene about a guy who walked into a nearly empty bar in the middle of the day. It was Christmastime. The only other customer was a beautiful—albeit sad-looking—woman of about his age. (40s.) It’s a Wonderful Life was playing on the TV behind the bar.

The woman spoke to the man: “Don’t you love this movie. It’s so heartwarming.”

“If attempted suicide is your idea of heartwarming, then indeed it is,” the man replied.

Instead of being shocked, she burst out laughing. And they began talking to each other. By the time I finished writing the ten-page scene (It took me a lot longer than two minutes) I thought, I’m curious about these two. Why are they in a bar at three in the afternoon?  Is this a romance? I wanted to find out.

Anyway, a version of that scene now happens at about page 100. So there was a lot of writing to figure out why that guy—also named George Bailey, but I didn’t know that on that first day—walked into that bar. And then another 240 pages after the two of them meet to complete the tale.

Which leads me to the other thing I need in order to keep writing: I need an ending. The ending might change when I get there, but I need to know there is some possible end point I’m heading toward that I can see far away in the distance.

Then I just keep working. Slowly and surely, two minutes at a time.

PS: This guest post took longer than two minutes and that’s fine by me. Writing takes time.

Great advice Ken! Thanks for joining us.

George Bailey book cover Title:  George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill
Published:  October 17th, 2016
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Recommended Age:  18+


George Bailey, who has made a fortune selling Christmas ornaments, is having a rough few days. He’s thrown his back out lifting the Thanksgiving turkey; his father has died and his wife has left him. He’d turn to his best friend for support, but said BFF is having an affair with his wife.

Let the holiday season begin!

On the heels of all this misery George meets a new woman, and he also meets Jesus (or perhaps just an awfully nice guy named Jesus). As he scrambles to hold together his floundering family, he must figure out if these strange and wondrous events are miracles or symptoms of a nervous breakdown.

Purchase George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill  on Amazon.

About the Author Photo Ken O'Neill

Ken O’Neill is the author of The Marrying Kind, which won the 2012 Rainbow Award for best debut, and the 2013 Independent Publisher Award Silver Medal for LGBT fiction.

The Marrying Kind was also a finalist for the 2013 International Book Award in the Gay and Lesbian fiction category. The book was included on Smart Bitches Trashy Books list of top three favorite novels of 2012.

Ken lives in NYC with his husband and their two cats who think they’re dogs or, perhaps, people. When Ken is not checking his Amazon rating to see if anyone has purchased his books, he enjoys reading, dancing (though usually only when no one is watching) and eating dark chocolate, purely for medicinal reasons.

He is at work on his third novel. Visit him at kenoneillauthor.com

Connect with KenAmazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website


Enter to win:

  • Signed, print copy of George Bailey Gets Saved in the End (US only)
  • 2 ecopies of George Bailey Gets Saved in the End (International)

Giveaway ends November 21st at 11:59 PM (ET)


All the usual invitations had been extended. Yet oddly, not a single friend—The Strays, they always called them—joined the Baileys for dinner this year. The lack of guests in no way altered the quantity of food the family prepared. It mattered not whether thirty people attended, or just the eight of them. As far as George’s mother, Claire, and his wife, Tara, were concerned, you could not call the day Thanksgiving unless the turkey weighed more than twenty-five pounds. Theirs weighed in at record-breaking twenty-nine point four. Add the stuffing, all the pan drippings, and the cast iron Le Creuset roasting pan to that number, and George was hoisting a weight just shy of forty pounds when his back went out.

Considering George’s relative level of fitness, which was extremely high by American standards, though only average when compared to other Manhattanites, he did not believe it was the weight per se that precipitated his injury. Rather he suspected his troubles were brought on because he had been forced to crouch down when removing the turkey because his wife, for reasons still unknown to him, insisted that the bird go in the lower oven. Not that George blamed her for his mishap. Just at the moment George was taking the pan out of the oven, he remembered being told something about bending with his knees. But by then it was too late. Something deep within his core seized up. As his knees buckled, he lurched forward to the sound of Tara shouting, “Don’t you dare drop that bird, George!”

He didn’t.

George spent most of the day alternating between ice packs and a heating pad, because his wife said cold but his mother said hot, and he figured it was easier just to keep them both happy.

Ken ONeill book tour


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