Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Confessions of a Deranged Writer - Part Deux

Photo courtesy of "taliesin" of
Any of you who have followed my blog for a while probably caught my first posting by that title - Confessions of a Deranged Writer. If not, check it out before proceeding. Today's post is an extension/update on what I shared before. Go ahead. I'll wait.


All caught up? Good. Now, first to address my previous confessions:

#1 - I'm still a total, unapologetic pantser, and I don't care who doesn't like it. I no longer apologize for my disdain for plotting/outlining (the root canal principle still applies). I just do what I do and go with what works best for me and no longer worry about what other authors feel about it. I don't give a rat's patootie what someone calls it - pantsing, organic, intuitive, whatever. Changing the name doesn't change what I do.

#2 -  Still no clue where a story is going most of the time. That really weirds out some people, but they'll either get over it or get under it, as my mother says. Totally up to them which, and not my problem. I say "most of the time" because... well... see Confession #8 (yes, that one is new).

#3 - I still research on the fly. I tried it the other way because that's what we're "supposed" to do as writers, right? I spent DAYS doing research blind, not having a clue what I'd actually need. It bombed completely. I ended up having to research on the fly anyway, and those hours spent before the project ended up being wasted time. I didn't use any of that information because none of it fit the story.

#4 - Nothing's changed here. I still get to know characters as I write. Amazing what they reveal to me as we go. Letting my subconscious have control of the story truly is magnificent!

#5 - These days, I rarely argue with my characters. I've learned to trust that they know what they're doing. That's truly not as weird as it sounds. It's all about trusting my subconscious to know intuitively, instinctively where things are going and just going with the flow. If that's a new concept for you, check out Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith.

#6 - I'm STILL losing sleep over the lives of fictional characters. I've pretty much accepted this is to be my life as long as I'm a writer. And, honestly? I'm okay with that.

#7 - I STILL LOVE NANOWRIMO! Camp NaNo, too! No matter what naysayers and poo-pooers say, I unabashedly love it. Why people find it necessary to denigrate and devalue something simply because it doesn't work for them, I'll never know. If it doesn't work for them, move on to something that does and leave the rest of us alone. "The world isn't all about you," is what I want to tell them. If you haven't checked out NaNo (which takes place every November) or Camp NaNo (two sessions each summer - this year April and July), check them out. See if they're a good fit for you. If not, that's okay, too. Find something that IS.

(I no longer belong to ACFW. I track numbers on my own though, just as I've done for years.)

Below are NEW confessions, things I've learned over the past couple of years.

CONFESSION #8 - That "most of the time" I mentioned in #2 pretty solidly applies, but.... You knew there was a "but" coming. I know you did. I've found I occasionally break out of chronological writing (start at prologue or chapter 1 and write to "the end") and fall into what is referred to as Puzzling. On occasion, scenes come to me that fit later in the book. I used to fight it and try to force myself to stay on task, which slowed me down. Now, I write them and then go back to where I was and keep working forward. I've got two projects currently on my WIP docket that are partially done and written that way. Both have completed scenes scattered throughout the book. I just have to bridge the gaps between them. Sometimes it slows me down; sometimes it doesn't. Depends on my creative flow. I just go with it and don't stress over it.

CONFESSION #9 - I'm pretty much a rebel. Not the criminal variety, though you might get some disagreement out of those authors who are legalistic about "rules". *G* I got tired of having "rules" shoved down my throat that actually hurt my writing, I finally rebelled. I even wrote a book about it to encourage others not to get DISCOURAGED when the same thing happens to them and leaves them feeling squashed and worthless. The "rules" of writing are really nothing more than guidelines that can be used or discarded at will when storytelling, as needed to produce the strongest story you can. My goal? Tell strong stories that reach a reader's heart. Being legalistic about "rules" hinders that instead of helping it.

CONFESSION #10 - I've thrown off the chains others have put on me, let go of the "rules" and myths that used to keep me beaten down. I follow a writing process that works great for me, regardless of what others say about it. I write what I want to write, regardless of whether it might be controversial or not, or whether some publisher thinks it'll sell or not. I indie-publish without apology and LOVE it! I have fun when I write. I love getting new books into the hands of readers and hearing their feedback about my characters, stories, and how it touches their lives.

CONFESSION #11 - I'm a sprint writer, not a marathoner. That means, I tend to write large amounts in shorter periods of time with breaks throughout. Sometimes that can mean writing 11K in one day and little or nothing the next (been there, done that), or it can mean that I do 2-5K each day for several days in a row before taking a break. I don't write 1-2K every single day all year round like some authors I know, and that's perfectly okay. I'm not a creature of consistency. I still get the job done. When I've FORCED myself to be a marathon writer, my creativity and productivity have both suffered. I'm no longer trying to fit this round peg (ME) into a triangular hole.

So there you have it. I'm a pantsing sprint-writer who researches on the fly and rebels against "rules" when they damage my writing or squash my voice. I no longer allow the opinions of others, or what works for THEM, to put me in chains. Letting go of what others think and the myths and "rules" I found so stifling, following my own creative flow and where God leads me, has opened doors that I never believed possible. Since late October of 2014, I've added short stories to my writing roster. Those have been fun (well, mostly - the Alpha series had its less than pleasant moments because a couple of those stories are truly tragic). I've loved the fact that I've now branched out from Contemporary Romance, Romantic-Suspense, and Women's Fiction fully into Medieval Fantasy AND Urban Fantasy. I never planned on that last one. It just happened. (So much for the one-genre-only "rule" we writers are supposed to follow, but that's a whole other confession....)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Long Time, No Post

I came to the site to update one of the book pages (I'd noticed a mistake and wanted to fix it before I forgot about it), and it hit me how long it's been since I did a blog post. Two months to the day, in fact. Yikes!

Anyway, February was very productive. I started two new stories - one urban fantasy with werewolf main characters (those are SO much fun!) and a novella that's part of the Mysterious Ways series. I also added a good chunk to From the Heavens, also part of the MW series. February also brought the publication of my latest short story series, Alpha - which is continuing to publish, one story per week, through part of this month. The Complete Collection is available in paperback already, done in February.

March ended up being way less productive as I battled the tail end of the winter blahs. I did manage to get the second book in the Otherworlder series (Visions) ready for publication and the third book (Specters) off to my first reader. For April, I've turned my attention to finishing the final book in that series (Destiny). I did the cover in March, but I'm not yet happy with it. When I am, I'll upload it to the medieval fantasy page of this site. Formatting for publication is a "limited brain function" exercise for me, so at least I was able to use the March "creative dead zone" constructively to some degree. *G*

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, so March and September and I tend not to get along too well. March is definitely the worst. It feels "darkest before the dawn", and my energy, creative flow, and oomph go on vacation for that month without me. Thankfully, I've dealt with that long enough (all of my life) that I know better than to fight the flow. So aside from the writing-related tasks I mentioned above, I vegged in front of the TV and read books I knew I'd enjoy (which means, I re-read books I've already read that are my favorites). Plus, I got a mountain of crocheting done. Two shawls, about 30 dishcloths, 2 large doilies, and the start of a small doll. ... Yeah, I think that covers it. Not bad for about 3 weeks, eh?

Writing for me is like any other art form for many other "artists". It ebbs and flows. Sometimes the creative flow is strong and moves so fast I'm not sure I can keep up. Other times, it moves at an easy-to-follow but rapid pace. Still others, it stops altogether and my mind rests. Until I started tracking my daily writing, I had no idea how consistently this happened. I used to fight it, but I learned that only made things worse.

I'm not one of those writers who can FORCE myself to "write every day" without serious repercussions. When I do that, it makes writing hard, steals the fun from my work, and stifles creativity. If I hadn't been tracking my numbers so closely, I wouldn't have realized how badly doing that crushed my writing spirit. Once I realized what was happening, I stopped.

Now? I go with the flow. I have unproductive days and even weeks, but when it flows, it really goes. I hope to write 500,000 words this year. Totally doable, I've done it before. I'm already at about 110,000 at this point. Behind overall, I know, but I also know I can catch up very quickly when stories flow well.

All writers have hurdles that cut into writing time. Health issues, family, jobs, life's other distractions and demands. Life gets in the way in a variety of ways. We can either learn to work with them or make ourselves crazy trying to fight against them.

What kind of hurdles do you face? Have you learned to work with them, or are you fighting against them?