It’s me again, Lynn. My turn to blog a bit and this week I’m going to talk (rant) about something that people ask me all the time…How do you manage to write so much? How are you successful? (I don’t think I’m all that and a bag of chips, but I’m doing okay.) I have over 35 books out, so someone likes me, I suppose. Mostly I’m damn lucky.
Question – How do you write so much?
Well, in the beginning, it was easy. Stories poured out of me. They still do, don’t get me wrong. And I burned with the need to get them down. I still do. But I wrote about eight books before I even tried to get published. And I learned a hell of a lot while doing it, getting better. Reading stories of published successful authors to see how they did it. And then I wrote some more.
My kids had reached the stage where they didn’t need me with them all the time to watch videos. And I couldn’t do the math once they got past like, 5th grade. So homework time became this empty dead space that I filled with writing. That was like six years ago, my kids are much older and still don’t need me to help them with homework. So it’s our time – theirs and mine – to do homework. They do the math, I write.
Also, my DH (darling husband, for those not knowing) has taken over the cooking, so I don’t have to do that, and the kids do the dishes. Lots of free time. All dedicated to writing, or some form of it, like promo, chats, excerpts, etc. That’s about 2-3 hrs a day Monday through Friday. And whatever I can manage on the weekend. (I work a 40hr full time job, also)
Now, I’m not always using that time to write, sometimes, I just think. That’s right. Think. Mull over. Concoct. Weave tales. Stir up and pin down my stories. I work on this all the time, when I’m driving, at work waiting for my data to load, watching mindless TV, at night before bed, and while I should be sleeping. I plan it all out in my head, dialogue, scenes, character arcs, dark moments and turning points. So when I’m ready to spew….out it comes!
What do you owe your success to? (such as it is)
Over the years, I’ve thought about this a lot, and come up with some rules….guidelines really, that I use and have discovered help me. Maybe they’ll help you. Who knows?
Lynn’s rule #1 – Never sit down in front of the computer to write without knowing what you’re going to write. Ever done that? Sucks. If you do it enough, it’s called “writer’s block.” Sound familiar? If you write when you have something, even a scene, to write, then all your writing efforts are successful, hence no “writer’s block.”
Lynn’s rule #2 – Don’t edit. Just write. Edits come later. Getting it down on paper is first and foremost. Turn off the internal editor. It’s hard has hell to do, but once you just go with that flow spewing out, you get used to it. It takes me about an hour to get about 2K words down. Then comes the hard part.
Lynn’s rule #3 – Edit. Edit. Edit. Now I love (freakin’ love) me some editing. And I do edit. A lot. But only after I’ve written a chapter. (Remember spewing?) Yeah. Now I have my chapter down, I go back and flesh it out, change verbs, add characterizations, settings, catch passive voice, POV issues, fill in the spots that don’t make sense, and when I’m done, I print it, correct, and do it again. Print. Correct. Repeat. (yeah, I kill a lot of trees. I have a freakin’ awesome carbon footprint) This takes another 1-2 hrs until the chapter is like I want it. I do this to each chapter, then print out chapters 1-3, read, edit, and go on to the next ones, checking for continuity. By the time I’m at the last chapter my book’s done. No rough draft, because the rough draft was that first spewed chapter. Done.
Lynn’s rule #4 – Read it again. Last read before sending it to the editor. Yeah, you think you catch all of your mistakes, right? Ha! Fat chance! Sometime during all of this, the gremlins have come in and screwed with it, so when your editor sends it back, holy bat shit! There’s all these mistakes. So you close it, curse her/his and all her/his progeny, and then fume. Pace. Eat chocolate. Have some wine. Fume.
Then come to your senses and realize the god-awful truth…You. Are. Not. A. Diva. So sit back down, open it up, and get working.
Lynn’s rule #5 – Your editor is your partner. You might think you write all alone; for those who do write with a real partner, yeah, even you. Your editor is your partner. Both of you are working on this book to make it better. To make it the best book you can put out, because it’s her/his reputation, your publisher’s rep, and most importantly of all, your reputation on the line.
It might hurt to see your baby’s flaws pointed out, but oh well. Get over it. Pull up your big girl/boy panties and deal. No one writes a perfect story. And if you think you do, or if someone’s told you that you don’t need to be edited, you need to smile, nod, and walk away. They cra-cra! They do not have your best interests at heart.
A tough, honest editor is like gold. Gold, I tell you! To be cherished. My precioussss…
I don’t know about you, but I want to know if my characters are too stupid to live or aren’t likeable. Tell me about the plot hole you can drive a damn Buick through. Tell me chapter three doesn’t make sense. Tell me before the readers and reviewers tear it to shreds on the internet where it will last until my grandkid’s grandkids can see it, thank you very much.
Lynn’s rule #6 – Be gracious. To everyone. Never engage (respond) with a reviewer who’s torn your baby apart. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and they can post it from hell and back. It’s an opinion. Not fact. Yeah, it hurts. Right up until you find out it’s hitting the top 100 at Amazon or you’re in the top 10 at your publisher. Or you get the check in the mail and you can go out and buy that front-loading singing washer/dryer you’ve craved since you saw it at the Lowe’s.
Lynn’s rule #7 – This one is about the Internet. I get to play “good cop-bad cop.”
Bad Cop – Everyone out there is not your friend. Wow! I know. Heresy!? But yeah. You’ve got “friends” but most of them are only “internet” friends. They will not bail you out of jail, hold your hand at the hospital, recognize you at the market, or buy you a drink at RT. Be careful who you trust. Most people out there are not who they say they are. The Internet is perfect for being anonymous. Some can hurt you, stalk you, trash your books, and make your life miserable. It’s not happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen.
Good Cop – On the other hand, many “internet” friends are a wonderful line of support. A fantastic cheering section. Fan letter writers that make you get up each morning and write the next chapter or start the book you’re too scared to write. They post and share and re-tweet and are so helpful in promoting your books. They truly care about authors and about the books they write. And I love them!
Which leads me to the last rule….
Lynn’s rule #8 – Give back. To readers. To other authors. To newbie and wannabe authors. Take the time to hold out a hand to someone. Offer advice. There’s plenty of room out here for all of us. We’re not going to run out of readers.
Karma, remember? Pay it forward. Pass it on. Do unto others…however you want to say it, just do it.
Hope this helps. See you next time, when I’ll be blogging about my newest release, coming on Jan. 20th from Amber Allure, called Storyville.
See you then!