Sometimes, it feels like the story almost writes itself. Sometimes it takes more effort. The third book is almost through the editing stage, and should be published before the end of the month. Book three has taken a little more effort to get the story how I wanted it.
Not book four, though. Book four was outlined in about twenty minutes. I didn’t expect that, as I had only a vague idea what the story was, no details at all. No, I started writing, putting in the various stages of the story, and before I knew it, the book was outlined. I was surprised by a few plot points, actually, but when they just appeared on the “paper,” I knew it was what I wanted.
Seriously, as the story appeared before me, I was delighted and surprised. Now I’ve had a chance to write the story for a few days. It’s again working out almost as if the story exists, and I’m just releasing it to the world.
This is also in direct contrast to the martial arts book I’m writing. That story outlined easily, but my outlines are fairly vague. No, book four is already forming details, but the martial arts book is proving to be a harder write. I’m almost halfway through my first draft on the martial arts book, but I have a better feel for the fourth Forest Guardians book.
How can some stories just appear before us, while others take effort and time to materialize? Why do we sometimes have a book flow, while other books feel like effort? Part of it is passion and enthusiasm. Part of it might be that some stories touch our hearts in ways other stories do not.
Now, my first few books didn’t flow, though there were times when writing them was done from the flow state. I was too busy learning how to write a book to have the whole book come from a flow state. That’s okay. It takes time to learn to be an author. As I get more experience, I find it easier to tap into that flow state for more steps in the writing process.
The flow state is when ideas pour from us and appear as if they were already there. Athletes can experience the flow state, where their body responds perfectly, and their movements are easy. Anyone can experience the flow state. Concentration comes easily and we’re more productive than normal.
Now that the holidays are over, my life is settling down, and I’m finding my way back into my normal routine. That means I’m working on more fun books to share with readers, and more stories I’m passionate about. I get to write more books I love and improve my skills. Here’s to many more years writing!
I have a fond childhood memory of sitting in my father’s office and playing with the typewriter. I never actually wrote anything important, I just loved pressing the keys and making noise. Seeing the letters appear was like magic to me. Needless to say, I was pretty young at the time. Okay, very young.
Just last month, I asked mom if she still had the typewriter. She didn’t have the one I played with all those decades ago, but she had one my grandfather used. I have it now. It’s much newer than that one I tapped away at as a child. It’s also significantly lighter. I can even still buy cartridges for it, including correction tape.
I played with it, exploring the functions and seeing if it still worked. It did. I also learned a lot in the few minutes I typed, like how spoiled I am as a writer with a modern computer and my word processor. I also learned how slowly I would have to type if I didn’t want to constantly use the correction tape...
It made me reflect on writers in the “olden days.” I can write and edit a novel in a few months with my computer. If I’m having a productive day and really going for it, I can write over 2000 words in an hour. Autocorrect means I don’t have to fix most of my speed typing errors. Most importantly for me, as an author who does not write my book in order, I can jump around and write whatever scene I want at any point.
What was it like for the writers back then, using typewriters, or even writing by hand? We have a copy of a bible that was recently done, written out by scribes on vellum using quills. It took years instead of months. Even the typewriter is an improvement for writers over quill pens, but my speed on a typewriter is only a fraction of what I can do with a computer.
What would it be like having to use a typewriter? How many pages would my draft be, knowing I write by scene instead of chapter or in one continuous narrative? How often would I be making corrections because my fingers move faster than the typewriter can handle. I remember being able to cause jams on the old typewriter.
I appreciate my modern tools as a writer. I won’t forget how much easier things are for me, with spellchecker, grammar checkers, the ability to easily delete typing, and I can jump around as I want in my story. Those writers back before computers were tough and persistent. Would I be a writer without my tools? Yes, I’d probably still write, but not as an author. I’d probably still be writing short stories for myself instead.
Here’s to computers, word processors, formatting programs, and an easier time as an author. And thanks to the typewriter, my reminder of how good I have it as a writer!
Once again, I’m experiencing an interesting phenomenon as I write. As I approach the end of my final draft, I start feeling tired. I felt this before will all my other books. It’s simply part of writing for me, and something I’m learning to work with.
The tricky thing about the fatigue is it’s a little worse this time. With the Christmas season and me having a cold, the fatigue is more noticeable than normal. Since the fatigue is simply something I’ve learned is part of my writing, I’ve learned some ways to deal with it.
I still love getting up every morning and writing. That hasn’t changed. My enthusiasm for the story hasn’t changed, either, though the fatigue has brought some doubts. This is one of the reasons I have a beta reader I trust. He and I discussed my doubts and how to deal with it. We decided I was best to stick to my story as it was and let him read it. If there was a pacing problem, he’d feel it and let me know.
Today I wrote the scene I initially had doubts about. I stuck to my plan and feel good about it again. I’m pretty sure the doubts really were just the tiredness I always seem to experience at this point in my writing. I don’t know any writer who doesn’t occasionally have doubts. What matters is how we deal with them.
How do I deal with it? Step one is stick to my plan. I liked my first draft(s) and felt the story was ready for final form, so if I have doubts, I stick to my plan. Step two is to take more or longer breaks. Since writing is my primary occupation, I set aside my entire mornings to write in. That’s a privilege I have, so I take advantage of it. Some days I can do 5000 words in just over two hours, and other mornings I may only write 3500 words and it’ll take all morning, including breaks.
Another important thing I watch for is making sure I eat and sleep well. If I make sure I look after myself, any fatigue I do experience is less than it might otherwise be. Writing can be mentally tiring. Fuelling my body and brain properly keeps me at my best.
As you write, you’ll find your own methods and rhythms. New book excitement might help you speed through the early parts, when ideas are new and fresh. Maybe the middle part will be slower to write, and maybe it won’t. You might feel a fresh surge of energy as the book nears completion. Or you may find your personal patterns are something else entirely.
Keep an eye on how your writing goes and what each stage is like. I found my writing was consistent. Maybe yours will be, and maybe it won’t. If you know what becomes normal for you, it’ll help you when doubts kick in or you just feel off. There are days where I only manage 1000 words or so, though those days are rare now that I know what’s normal for me. By knowing my normal, I’m becoming even more productive as a writer.
How about you? Have you noticed things that are consistent with your writing process? What helps, and what doesn’t? How do you deal with the doubties?
Now that I realize I haven’t blogged in a while, it made me reflect on the natural rhythm of writing I go through. This shows in how often I blog, now that I look back. My writing and my blogging are connected. I’ll explain...
When I’m starting a new book project, I have a lot more time and energy to blog. I have more focus to spread on all my projects, blogging included. Right now, though, I’m nearing the end of book 3, finishing the final draft and about to enter editing. My focus is almost completely on finishing the book. That’s how I can go a week and realize I forgot to come and blog, sharing my progress and process.
Now that I’ve written a few books, I’m noticing general trends on where my focus is. I do love doing the monthly newsletter and enjoy writing the bonus stories. This time around, I prepared it in a shorter time period. My energy and inspiration just worked that way.
I am loving writing the short bonus scenes for the newsletter. It’s a chance to share scenes and short stories from other characters’ perspectives. I love them because I can sit and write one in under an hour, or take longer if I want. It’s a chance to explore the world and Aili’s life outside the books. What was little Aili like? What happened during the fire?
Hang in there, aspiring authors. I’ll be blogging more regularly again soon. Book 3 is nearly done. My short story and newsletter are done and ready to go out in a couple of days. Christmas is here and the season will soon be over. Wow, has December been crazy this year. Sometimes I blog more, other times I am busier and my focus is elsewhere. That’s okay. Writing is a joy, not a chore. If I’m not actively blogging as much, it’s because I have other fun writing I’m working on. Soon I’ll be back.
That time has come once again. I’m ready to take my rough draft and put it into final format. My story is about to gain the richness of descriptors and sensory information, and not just be a rough draft. Sure, the rough draft does contain all kinds of descriptors and more, but not in final form.
The best advice I ever got was to work with two files, my rough draft as it is, and a brand new file. I look at what’s in my rough draft, and completely rewrite it into my new draft. I keep the ideas the same, and often the dialog doesn’t change at all, it stays word for word. However, while it means extra work for me, rewriting has one distinct advantage for me.
When I’m not editing something already there, I can word my final draft in the most effective way I want, freely with no boundaries. When I’m editing something already down, I’m less likely to change my sentences. When I’m rewriting, I spend more time making the sentences the best I can make them.
It also means I don’t get writers block. See, I know I just need ideas and conversations and basic details in my rough draft. It doesn’t matter how bad the writing is, because it’s not in its final form. I can get stuff down, change it as I need or want to make the story flow, and even leave notes to myself to flesh out things before my final draft. I can write whatever scenes I want and make them better later.
Also, by the time I get to my final draft, the ideas are already down, so all I have to do is make them pretty, give my words life, and make my world and characters feel real. Since I don’t have to come up with the ideas, there’s nothing to block. I can rewrite a sentence as many times as I want, though it seldom takes more than a single rewriting.
It does slow down how long it takes to write each book, as I write it twice, but I feel it gives me a much better book to share with the world. It also means I don’t sit there with writers block for days or weeks. Every writer will find a method that works for them, and sometimes trying a new method is a good thing. However, once you find what works, hone the technique and make the most of it. Routine can also help writers, as it stimulates the brain in certain ways. For me, the routine of a new file for my final draft helps me clearly separate my idea writing from my polished book.
What routines work for you?
Before I became an author, I had never heard of NaNoWriMo. The gist of it is that you sit down and write 50 000 words throughout the month of November, working on a novel. A few well known novels got their start this way. The non-profit has a webpage - www.nanowrimo.org
I have a regular writing routine, so I chose not to participate this year, but I did decide to keep track of my productivity more closely, keeping track of how many words I wrote each day on book 3 of the Forest Guardians series. I did not include any writing on my other novels or personal stories.
As of this weekend, had I been participating, I would have achieved my 50 000 words this month. I keep in touch with other authors, and one thing we like to talk about is productivity. Successful authors who write a lot of books tend to average over 2000 words a day. Sometimes authors who have a main career outside of writing manage as few as 300-400 a day, on breaks and while commuting, and so on. Those are dedicated authors, to be sure!
I tend to average over 2000 words a day. Some days more than 6000 flow from me easily, like if I'm writing a major scene that the whole story hinges on. If I'm tired, it may be as little as 1000 words. That's just me, though. Still, it made NaNoWriMo possible for me, had I chosen to participate.
I chose not to, solely so I could see how my own writing was doing, and because I do have a routine that works. My books tend to be around 80 000 words long, which is pretty standard for a Young Adult Fantasy book. By having a word count, I can make sure my plotting works and that scenes happen where they need to. While it's more of a guideline, knowing where to build and where to ease off, where a major point is, and when to move along, all that helps make a gripping novel.
I did visit the NaNoWriMo page today, out of curiosity. They do appear to have some good resources for young writers. I think anything that helps people get creative and write is a good thing. If you want to be a writer, learn and read and study the craft. It'll improve your writing so much. Each novel you write will make you a better writer. What are you waiting for? Get writing!
I'm always seeking to improve my writing skills. An essential part of learning to self-publish is writing book blurbs and synopsis. It's actually quite different from writing a novel. Most authors dislike writing blurbs, and it's easy to understand why.
Writing blurbs is actually a style of writing called copywriting. It's all about making the book sound appealing, and is a special skillset. There are techniques to learn and general guidelines to follow, just like in novel writing. However, when writing novels, you're interested in crafting a compelling story with a certain structure, which is different from the structure of a blurb.
Still, I'm always up for learning more and new skills. The more I do it, the more practiced I get.
What else has kept me so busy? I've been working on new covers for both books. Another skill I've been learning is cover design. Again, the more I do it, the better I will get. It's fun to play around and experiment, even if I don't use the designs I create. However, I've got new designs for the series and I prefer them to the originals.
Also, while I have not been doing NaNoWriMo, I have been keeping track of my progress on book 3, just to see how I'm doing. NaNoWriMo is national novel writing month. The goal for those participating is to write a 50 000 word novel in the month of November. I started book 3 of the Forest Guardians series on the 27th, of October, maybe, and I'm already over 30 000 words. I have the writing pace of an established and experienced professional author.
Most of all, I'm loving writing the story. Aili gets to go to a new forest, meet more Scouts, practice her healing with the best healers in the country, and deal with a soggy and grumpy Leya. They aren't called rainforests for nothing! You can look forward to the third novel in the series being released within a few months for sure.
After a crazy week, Facing the Fire is now out and available for you to enjoy. Aili’s adventures continue, and you get to meet some new friends she makes, as well as learning more about her country. Book 2, Facing the Fire, finishes her adventures with the magical artifact she first encounters in Runaway Magic, Book 1.
I’ve already plotted out the third book and I begin writing that tomorrow. She tackles new problems and visits a new forest. Aili is going to experience her first temperate rain forest. So far each forest has been inspired by actual environments I’ve been in, and the next forest is no exception. Canada has a wide variety of ecosystems and I can use them all as inspiration for new places Aili can go.
Our first newsletter went out today as well. Each has a bonus story involving Aili, as well as updates from the last month, and a poll or question that lets me get your opinion on something about the books or the characters.
After working so hard to learn new skills and get the book and newsletter done, it’s time for a quick rest. I’m not stopping writing, I’m just taking it easy for the week. I love adventuring with Aili and that will continue. Normally I will write between 2000 and 6000 words a day. This week I’m going to write however much I want and not focus on anything but telling the story how I like. A rest is a good thing. Unfortunately, Aili hasn’t had a chance to rest in her stories, which means I haven’t rested, either!
I’m always looking to learn more about writing and everything that goes along with being an author. One thing I’m seriously looking into is having a newsletter for my readers, each month. It’s actually easy to do and doesn’t take long.
Why would I want to spend more time not writing? It’s a great way to connect with readers when done well. Also, it’s a great place to share things like bonus scenes and materials with my fans. What kind of bonus scenes?
Well, for those who sign up for my newsletter, I’ve written the scene from Aili’s past, where she survives the fire at the University. There will also be scenes from her childhood like her first camping trip, the scene with the bear mentioned in book 2, scenes of her and Ilia together, and more.
There’s so much I can do and share in a newsletter, so I’m putting stuff together for you all. I’m planning on sending them out at the beginning of each month. You can learn more about what’s going on, what I’m working on, see behind the scenes moments for both me and my characters, and more.
What else is going on? The puppy is settling in and learning when it’s playtime and when it’s writing time. Winter is coming, we got our first real snow last night, and we’re preparing for the change of seasons. I guess I need to finish repairing the winter blankets for the horses! I’m learning more about being an author, newsletters, marketing, and more. Oh, and as always, I’m writing more stories for you, my fabulous readers.
After a couple of days to relax and celebrate, I started back at my normal writing routine today. Things went swimmingly for me. Sometimes a vacation is all we need. I currently have four books on the go, in varying stages of production. The mini vacation did wonders for my focus and desire to write.
The second book in the Forest Guardians series is going into its final draft. I love the characters and getting to send them on adventures in a world of my own creation. Being able to hold a copy of the first book in my hands is inspiring. I’m an actual published author, with actual books out!
The martial arts book is coming along well. I had to refresh my memory, as I set it aside for a few weeks to focus on getting the romance novel out. It was fun going over what I had done and making sure I knew where I was going and how I wanted to get there. The advantage to outlining the major plot points is that I don’t have to worry about forgetting something important. My notes of each major stage of the plot let me pick back up and keep going.
I have a new romance book in the works. It’s roughly outlined, though I still have more work to do. I’m looking forward to turning it into a full story.
Finally, I have a special story on the go. It’s something that speaks strongly to me and a story I need to tell. I can’t say too much about it yet, but I have begun writing now that it’s fully outlined. My beta reader has seen the opening and they want to read the rest.
Anyways, writing is what I love and what I do. Sometimes we all need a quick break. I’m back and ready to go. Here’s to future stories!
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.