Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

It’s the first Monday of the month (or the first Sunday if you’re in the northern hemisphere). You’re invited to ask writing-related questions here for me to answer. Your thoughts and writing experiences may also help others.

Questions posted ahead of time will be answered during Monday November 5.

Sometimes the questions go past Monday into the week, and that’s okay too.

To kick things off, here’s a question I was  asked at the RWA conference in August: writers have so much to do with all the blogging, tweeting and other social networking,  getting work ready to pitch to editors and agents at conference, designing and promoting your books if you’re indie published (and even if you’re with an established publisher)…it never seems to stop. When do we get to enjoy the writing process itself?

This is a good question, and one we need to address if we’re not to burn out

First, accept that you can’t do everything. If you hate doing live blog tours, don’t commit to days or weeks of them. Can the blog owner send you some questions you can answer in your own time? If you love Twitter and hate Facebook, focus on building your Twitter following. You’ll need a Facebook presence, but you don’t have to be online every minute or even every day. Aim for most days.

Put a value on your time

This was one of the earliest lessons I learned as a freelance writer. Work out roughly what your time is worth per hour, easy enough if you have or had a day job. If you can hire someone to handle your website while you write, that may be a fair trade. Business people don’t think of doing all their own grunt work – why should writers? Farm out gardening, laundry, anything you can afford, freeing up more time to write. This also helps you to see yourself as professional, and less likely to fritter away precious writing time.

Most of all, remember why you want to write

The one thing every publisher, editor and agent asked for at conference was “a good story”. They want to read the adventures, romances and fantasies bubbling away inside you. A perfect lawn won’t make those stories happen. Only you can do that, and it must be important to you or you wouldn’t have chosen to write. Tell the stories only you can write, and let yourself enjoy the experience. As little as an hour a day can make your dreams happen. Everything else other than precious family time can wait or be delegated.

Agree? Have questions or other thoughts? First Monday Mentoring is the place to share what’s on your mind.


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Comments on: "First Monday Mentoring – don’t forget to enjoy writing" (12)

  1. I am writing a synopsis which is not nearly as much fun as writing the story. I’ve read a million articles on writing them but when I do it they come out flat and informative. I want to capture the excitement of the story but it’s not happening for me.

    • Hi Fi, you could try “telling” the story as you would to a friend. So and so meet, they have this problem, they do this which makes it worse, but when they…A synopsis is a selling tool and editors don’t expect brilliance; they want to meet the key characters, understand the conflict and how you intend to solve it by story’s end. Not my favourite thing to write either.

  2. Angie the Hippo said:

    I enjoy every moment I can write. But like you said there are other things that must be done as well… Trying to squeeze in writing in between family time with my kids, and such things that must be done like food, laundry (and day job which keeps me from home for 11 hours a day) is tricky, which may be why it is all so much more precious and enjoyable when I finally get a chance to write.

    • So true Angie. Chore time, standing in line or waiting for others can be used to think about characters and scenes, so you keep the precious writing time for producing new words.

  3. The part of writing that I don’t like is all the work that has to be done after a story has already been accepted by a publisher … revisions and line edits and such. When I’m done with a story, I want to be DONE! I want to move on to the next fantasy rattling around in my head, the next group of characters to flesh out, the next problem to solve. THAT is when I get to enjoy writing.

    • I feel the same, Josh, which is why I try to save these essential but unexciting tasks for after my creative writing sessions, or times when the well is temporarily dry. It’s all too easy for them to take over your time, leaving little over for what is, after all, our most important work.

  4. I agree, VP. I love it when I can ignore *everything* else out there and just write. Just being able to enjoy the writing process.

    Of course, life usually has a different plan, lol.

  5. Hi Valerie,
    I’m in a bit of a quandary – I have been asked to submit 3 chapters to Harlequin UK but first she wants me to tone down the fact my hero is a butterfly collector – she thinks it’s non heroic. Yet when I entered my 3 chapters in comps people loved the premise. I’ve tried rewriting it so that he needs to collect butterfly for something heroic – like a natural cure for his sister but am now wondering if this is too cliche. Should I submit as I originally had it and see what editor thinks or….

  6. Hi Cassandra, this question got overlooked because it was so long after the original blog. Thinking about your question, I have to say I think the editor may be right. A butterfly collector suggests a vague, nerdy kind of guy who may or may not fit your hero. Contrast with a scientist who *studies* butterflies as you say, perhaps seeking a medical benefit. Perhaps we’ve all seen too many images of poor lifeless butterflies pinned to boards, to empathise with someone who does that. Could his sister run a sanctuary for endangered insects and he brings her butterflies to save their species? Could be a sideline to something else he does, rather than a hobby. To avoid cliches, you could try listing a minimum of 20 ways you could work butterflies into his heroic life, not stopping till you’ve listed that many or more until you get to the most original material. Hope this helps.

    • Hi Valerie

      Thank you so much for your reply – I do appreciate it and it was most helpful:) Fabulous idea re brainstorming to avoid cliches…have Googled (in preparation) Butterflies and Science and have some good possibilities to play with. Have been in touch with the editor and she was pleased to hear that I have taken on board her suggestions and is happy to wait until the New Year for me to send. Great to have less pressure as I rewrite. Thank you again Valerie:)

  7. You’re welcome, Cassandra. That brainstorming technique works well for my own books. Am resisting Googling Butterflies & Science out of sheer curiosity, so you may be on to something 🙂 Happy writing.

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