One of the things I love most about my job is helping to encourage other authors. I’ve been writing for a living for 20 years now (wow!) and I’ve learned a few things along the way. I love passing them on to younger writers, in hopes that I motivate them the way I’ve been motivated by other writers in the past.
I clearly remember being a first-time newspaper reporter, guzzling ounces of coffee before 9 a.m.; so nervous about how to put a story together. Could I get it done in time? Then, when I began my first column and really put myself, my thoughts and opinions out there – – what if people laughed?
What got me through was the people who had been there before me. The editors, senior writers, and eventually, when I began writing books, other, more experienced authors and even a couple screenwriters. They gave me honest advice and cut the BS out on a lot of stuff I’d been fed BS on before. It helped me realize that I was going to make it in this business of writing, editing, and losing your mind marketing, because they’d made it, and still had the energy to tell stories and give me advice.
So, here I am now, offering some writing advice, and reminding you to take everything you read about the process with a grain of salt. Just like everybody’s story is going to be styled differently, so is the story of how you get from a blank page to a 70,000 word novel. It’s personal.
I’ve been working on this new novel, The Match, this past month, but not getting too far. Every morning, I’d tell myself the well-known mantra, “write every day,” and then I’d sit down at the computer, and I’d write total crap. Every day. For a whole week.
I mean, the stuff was nonsense like “I should put a paragraph about skinny jeans in here,” but then I’d be interrupted by my daughter, who was home with strep throat, asking for juice, and I’d forget all about skinny jeans.
Sometimes, life gets in the way of your writing, and if you aren’t working to an absolute deadline, it just doesn’t feel like it’s the right time to push yourself on it. There were four “work to rule” strike days this month, and a Professional Day (essentially, another day off for my kid). I try not to work as many hours when she’s home off school, because these are precious days. I know she’ll soon have a boyfriend and want very little to do with me.
Strep throat, work to rule, I got sick, the cat got sick, we started painting the house, I had a couple of book signing events to attend and hours of marketing work to do for my novels, and then Strangely, Incredibly Good hit #1 in Time Travel Romance on Kindle, and suddenly, it was all about the OTHER books; no time to start a new one!
Besides, I was writing crap.
I’m still writing really rotten stuff, in my opinion, but it’s also starting to come together. I write something about the plot or a character every day, and then I go back to my marketing work, and these days, getting ready for Christmas.
I know The Match will come together when it’s good and ready. I’m also taking better care of myself so that when it comes in a steady stream as it often does, I’m rested and prepared to put in the hours!
Don’t worry if you don’t write beautiful prose every day. Do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up over that. If you’re truly a writer, the story won’t let you give up on it.