Processing your unique process

One of the parts of writing that I found the most difficult was understanding my process. There were plenty of people around who were glad to tell me how to write my stories. Outline, story board, character questionaires, exploratory chapters, the list goes on and on. Those are all good methods, but they didn’t help me understand what was going on in my brain. They didn’t help when I hit panic mode.

I wrote over twenty full length novels before I figured out panic is part of my process.

I want to quit every time I hit the panic phase. This comes on at about the fifth draft and I have 50,000 words in what feels like should be at least a 70,000 word story. I know I’m missing something big, and I can’t see it. Panic!!!!! That’s why part of my process is calling in the troops. I whine and plead with my critiquers to read this mess and tell me where I’ve gone wrong. One will give me a couple of pages of explanations and suggestions on the chapter or two that is the failure point in the story. The other will just tell me “This is where my head exploded.” Both responses are very helpful. And while one reads for plot, the other reads for character.

Part of my process is getting the needed jolt at that point in my writing that gets me to the full, fleshed out story.

I had always ignored photoboards with pictures of my characters and lists that told me what my characters ate for breakfast and who their first pet was. I thought it was because I write historical and this would only work for contemporary. Not at all. It was because of my process, which allows me to see my characters, sometimes through a veil and sometimes through a prism. But those images are so strong that everything else is a poor replica. The skill I needed, and still need to hone, is to describe those people and places in my head so well that readers can visualize them without pictures. This is part of my process.

These experiences convinced me that process is individual. Every writer, from initial idea to finished product, gets there a different way. We can give each other hints. Try this. Change that. Don’t give up.

Especially don’t give up.

So if you need to story board or write 80 page outlines or fly off into the mist every time you sit down at the keyboard, embrace it. It’s your process. We all handle our ideas, our images, the characters in our heads differently. It’s our unique process. And once you process what your process is, writing will go more smoothly for you and you’ll be able to enjoy the journey more.

Don’t get me wrong. It will always be an uphill climb. But you’ll be able to find your own personal path up the mountain once you process – or understand – what your unique process is.

Changes and Choices

As a writer I’m driven to understand the world around me through the lens of the storyteller. Why did that happen? Why do I feel that way? What’s the bigger picture? What are the possible outcomes?

Writing in Series

I love romance series.  Reading them.  Writing them.  It seems even when I set out intending to write a stand-alone, by the time I get to The End I’ve got a cast of characters I can’t wait to come back to.  The good news if you’re obsessed with writing series?  Series sell.  In the Data […]

Spring Holiday

Today and this weekend, The Rubies are renewing ourselves with our loved ones.  We’ll see you next week, but in the meantime check out the great blogs posted recently. Have a blessed Easter or Passover. 

Jacqui Jacoby’s Friends By Choice

Friends by Choice.  Writers by Committal.             I look at the clock now and wonder how it all went by so fast.  It was spring of 1996 when I answered an on American Online—then the premier internet service–and met up with two writers who would define the concept of “writing partners.” […]

The Great CP Search Is On! (Reprisal from 2011)

It’s not too late to post your CP profile, which can be added until late Friday night.  If you’ve been a Ruby blog follower for a long time, you may recall my March 10th, 2011 article on critique partners — AKA cattle prods.   If you didn’t  read it, you might want to now as it’s relevant to […]

Are Blogs History?

Recently, behind the red curtain, the question ‘if blogs are history’ came up and a great discussion followed.   It’s hard for us to know the correct answer, because our brick counter tells us we have between 650 – 1000 reads a day, which is pretty awesome. And some days, only sisters comment while on others the world speaks […]

No Contest: How to Save RWA’s Writing Contest Circuit

Ten years ago, every romance writer I knew entered writing contests. It was the way you lowered your wheels to the ground, tested out the road, and saw how far you could go. There was a typical pattern: You’d polish three-chapters-and-a-synopsis and toss it into a couple of local chapter contests to see if it floated or sank. This […]

Don’t be a Lone Wolf…

Or “why writers need other writers” When I first started writing a book, I did it for fun. Most people thought I was crazy because most people think writing is work…not fun. But on those hazy, can’t-exactly-remember-because-I-was-a-tired-mama afternoons, I would put down the infant, drag out an ancient laptop and enter a fantasy world where […]

What I Learned From Michael Hauge Part 2

Last week, I shared my notes on Michael’s opening comments and his insight into the Hero’s inner Journey during his Master Class. Today I’m sharing my notes on his six-stage Plot Structure and at which point the hero’s Transformation occurs.   If you’ve visit Mr. Hauge’s website, you can see his Six-Stage Plot Structure chart. […]

Stranger Than Fiction

Lord Byron. Mark Twain. The Beastie Boys’ Mike D. Over the years, these artists, and so many others, have made the observation that truth, or life, is stranger than fiction. I was recently whapped upside the head by this concept as I lightly revised and prepared the books in my Underbelly Chronicles series for indie […]

How I Let Love Cast Its Spell

Hi, readers! Lara Archer here, celebrating the release of my latest historical romance, HOLD ME CLOSE!     This is actually a second birth for this story, since an earlier version came out last July as part of the Nice Girls Writing Naughty anthology, THE CHARMED BRACELET. At the time, I didn’t share the story […]

Books & Tea Reader Event

Hello everyone! I just love libraries. The hushed peace, the smell of so many books packed together, just  waiting to be opened. And I love tea. The warm, calming sensation that comes with sipping (silently) the subtle flavors of suntanned leaves steeped with honey, or sugar and cream, or just plain. Books and tea, a […]

What I Learned From Michael Hauge – PART 1

If you’ve read my blog on February 27, you know I believe in a writer’s continued education. Last weekend, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group of the ABE area in Pennsylvania hosted the renowned Michael Hauge. Mr. Hauge is known for his Story Mastery concept of screen-writing. Over the years, while attending RWA conferences, I tried to […]

Writing Books With Overlapping Timelines

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that the same set of events from the point-of-view of two different people can result in two completely different stories. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that I’d end up writing books with overlapping timelines—that way I get to explore the same events from multiple perspectives. But, the […]

Phone Didn’t Ring Tuesday? We’ve Got Consolation (Prizes and Chocolate!!)

Nooooooooooooo!!!! How did this happen? How can the universe be so MEAN and STUPID and UNFAIR???!! Your book is so, so good, and everyone who’s read it loves it…and you worked so hard to get it that way! It had “RWA Nomination” written all freakin’ OVER it. But the phone didn’t ring on Tuesday. (Okay, […]

Welcome 2017 Golden Heart and RITA Finalists!!!

CONGRATULATIONS, 2017 FINALISTS!!! We hope you’re still floating on Cloud 9 after yesterday! RWA judges are tough, and nobody gets where you are without having written a FABULOUS book, so enjoy those well-deserved accolades!! (See the full slate of 2017 nominees here). We have a tradition here at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of asking new […]

Livestreaming RITA and Golden Heart Announcement Day!!

LET THE ANNOUNCEMENTS BEGIN… Wow, the big day is here again!! We’re here to cheer, commiserate, celebrate, hold hands with other nervous hopefuls, give you good company to gnaw your fingernails with, or whatever it is you’re needing today. As each of the Rubies can testify, the next few hours are going to change some […]

A Star to Steer Her By – Welcome Beth Anne Miller

I am so excited to welcome my friend and fellow author, Beth Anne Miller, to the Ruby blog today! Beth and I met at a writers conference in 2010 and became fast friends. I’m so glad Beth has joined us to talk about her brand new book, A STAR TO STEER HER BY, hot off […]

How To Find Your Magic

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Do you have your green on? Leprechauns, gold and magic surround this holiday, but as writers we must employ a bit of creative “magic” every day to create characters, worlds and emotionally moving stories. Many call this magic their muse. Originally a Muse was any of the nine sister goddesses […]

Falling In Love With The Bad Boy, Is It Wrong?

Recently, in the Winter Writing Fest Chat-room while talking about how we get to know our characters and develop their arcs, I stated that my villain in HIS WITNESS TO EVIL actually came to my house. Some thought that statement was cool. Others raised their brows, with little icons of course. Well, I’m here to […]

What throws you out of a story?

Even RWA seems to be asking what throws you out of a story with their question about adding a DNF rating to the RITA judging. So today, we’re going to have an informal Kate wants to know poll. I’ll start it off with a particular dislike of mine. Info dumps. I was reminded of this […]

Heart, Heat, Hope, and Humor

No surprise here, but I have closets full of ‘keeper’ books that go back decades. Crisp contemporaries, crumbling high school favorites, bold and sweeping historicals, witty chick-lit, proper regencies, and romantic suspense. I love them all.               Early in my writing career, I studied my keepers to determine what—beyond plot—had me clinging to this particular […]

365 Days

I’m really not sure where the past year has gone. I feel like I say this more and more as I get older, but in the case of the past year, I truly do not know. The last 365 days have included a move, a day job change and several writing commitments. All have been […]

Writing at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

I don’t really love public speaking.  I like to think I’m not bad at it, but it is something I do with sheer determination rather than any sense of delight.  Last weekend, at the marvelous NOLA Written in the Stars conference, I gave two workshops with the lovely and talented Kim Law – with a […]

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  • May 12, 2017
    Mother’s Day the Minnesota Way…

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