Please Choose One

What is the most difficult or challenging part
of the writing process for you?

You're kidding, right?  The most difficult or challenging?   This is a multiple answer type question, isn't it?  There has to be a "Please choose all that apply" option.  Because, well, 
let's get real.  There isn't just one answer to that question, because it depends on when it's asked.

I have a long list of what's been difficult and challenging in this on-going journey of writing and publishing.  At this moment in time, it's this moment in time.  Yes, I'm serious.  The lack of time for everything--especially writing--is a major thing for me right now.   Some days it's having so little sleep that by 9 p.m., my brain has shut down and putting words on paper is an effort in futility.  But that's now.  What about then?

A year ago what was difficult and challenging was getting a book proposal accepted (aka being offered a contract).  I had 3 two-book proposals turned down aka rejected.  Seven years ago it was wondering if I'd ever see another published book when, after five years of being a part of Silhouette Romance, the line closed.  Twelve years ago it was struggling with the revisions on my second book, while going through a divorce.  The year before that I was ready to put writing aside and pretend I was a normal person who didn't hear voices in my head.  (I'm glad I didn't, if only for the fact that it kept me sane during a very difficult time in my life.)

The writing process can be likened to the parenting process.  Once we think we've solved a problem or our child has mastered something, we discover there's more teaching (and learning!) that needs to be done.  Baby won't sleep at night?  Potty-training not going well?  Problems in school?  Boyfriend/girlfriend just dumped daughter/son?  And a lot of times we just wing it.  We don't always have time to get help.  We just do it.

Writing is an ongoing adventure in learning with steps we each take, although not at the same pace.   Some people talk of writing, others write.  Those who choose to do it discover there are pros and cons, just as there are with everything.  But if we stick with it and work our way through--learn knew things and grow some thick skin--we conquer the difficulties and win the challenges.

I have a long list of things that repeatedly are difficult or challenging:
  • I love to plot, but it can be terribly painful.  
  • Sometimes I don't know if something works or not.  
  • I don't feel like writing.  The words just won't come.
  • I can't think of a idea for a book.
  • My character is being stubbornly willful and I can't control him/her.
  • At various points in the writing of a story, I become bored with it.
  • Before I finish one book, the characters of a new book start talking in my head.
  • I fear rejection, not because it hurts, but because writing helps pay the bills.
  • I fear acceptance, because it means I have to (a) get to work, (b) pray I can do it again, (c) meet a whole new set of deadlines.
  • Setting goals is fun and easy, but meeting them is a battle, and sometimes I don't succeed.
  •  There is never, ever, ever enough time to do it all.  As my Twitter bio says, 'Sleep is highly under-rated.'  I need sleep to be able to function, and it's always in short supply.
Is any of that familiar to anyone?

How do I overcome those difficulties and challenges?  

Words on Paper (Penny Rader)

What is the most difficult or challenging part of the writing process for you?

For me the most difficult part is actually getting the words onto the page.  Because it’s so hard I resist it and do all sorts of things to avoid even trying.  Especially if I'm writing something someone else might read  – current wip, this blog post, stuff for my day job.

So often I just don’t know what to say.  Then the fear takes over.  What if I’m not really a writer? What if I never finish another book?  What if I sit down with my pen and notepad (or at the computer – though I struggle even more when it’s just me and the keyboard) and nothing comes out or I can’t get beyond the first few pages of this wip that has been waiting for me?  How many stories will I start and not finish? Say I get past chapter one or five…how will I know what’s supposed to come next? And then...what if it sucks big time?

I tell myself that I have written a book and that if I can complete one, then I can finish another.  If I share a secret, do you promise not to laugh at me?   I like “having it written,” but not the actual writing part.  I know!  Shameful thing for a writer to admit.

Want to hear something else?  Give me a picture or a writing prompt and I’ll get words on the page.  Give me some random words for our Mission Possible exercises and I can string them into a sentence.  I love writing exercises.  Maybe it’s because some of the pressure is off.  If I have a picture or prompt, I know what I’m writing toward.  But write a story just out of my head?  I guess the trick will be to find enough pictures, enough ‘prompts’ to plot out this current wip and get words on the page followed by more words and even more until I reach the end. And then I can edit and revise [which is one of my favorite parts of writing].  And then type “the end” and submit it to an editor.

And then I’ll have to start all over again.  That may be what truly scares me the most.

No Sweating the Small Stuff

What is the most difficult or challenging part of the writing process for you?

I have to laugh at myself.  Obviously, as I'm writing this post a day later than I was suppose to, one of the most challenging parts of the writing process for me is time management. 

Time management really doesn't fall under the writing process though, so I'll pick another.  

I'm trying to start a new book right now and having a lot of difficulty.  It's hard to choose just one part of the process that stands out as the most difficult.  I'm odd about opening lines, names and titles.  I have a terrible time really getting into a character if I can't name them.  I have a terrible time starting that first page without an amazing, catchy, opening line... And I absolutely get hung up on having just the perfect title for these perfect people and amazing story that I'm going to pull together.  

 Funny thing is, none of these people are going to be that amazing story I want to write if I don't get over all those little things that don't matter so much.  

Titles are going to change.  Names will probably go through some changes as well and I can say without much doubt at all that opening lines are going to be edited and beginnings moved around.  

So why do we as writers sweat all the small stuff?  We have ideas in our heads that need to come out, stories that need to be told.  My new goal for this new book is to just write it.  If I don't, will any of the rest of it really ever matter?

The Magic of Books and People

Thanks to deadlines and family, I missed my blogging date last month, so I'm revisiting July's blog topic and will (hopefully) write about August's later this month.  Hey, at last I'm trying. :)

What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing and why?

Wow!  That's kind of  a loaded question.  There isn't one, specific person or thing that's influenced my writing.  Reading would have to be the first of the "what."  I love to read.  As I mentioned in a previous post, it was my dad who led me to read by sharing his love of books.  I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading or at least looking at pictures in a Little Golden Book.

Reading, of course, led to favorite books and authors.  I read the Trixie Belden series, while others were reading Nancy Drew.  I cut my romance reading teeth in high school with Georgette Heyer, then the classics (Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and others).  Stephen King hooked me immediately, beginning with Carrie, although I haven't read his books for several years.  My favorite contemporary romance books are by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but there far too many others to list.  All of those books and authors have influenced my life in ways I will probably never know.

Then there are the people in my life.  My best friend from age 12 led me back to reading romance in the early '90s, which in turn tempted me to try to write.  Everyone I've met since 1996, when I joined RWA and WARA, have influenced me in some way, and that especially includes the members of WARA.  Along the way, I met others, and if it hadn't been for authors Kathie DeNosky and Janet Barton, I would have given up and thrown in the towel, long before I sold my first book.

While it may take a whole village to raise a child, it definitely takes a whole lifetime of whos and whats to create a writer.  It may be a lonely profession, but the perks are in the books read and written and the friends made along the way.  What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing and why?  Everything and everyone!

The Writing Process????

When I read the topic for this month I wondered if I wasn’t, well, uneducated.  As much as I hate to admit it I was rather puzzled by the question:  What is the most difficult or challenging part of the writing process for you?  At first I thought in general terms--Would it be problems in getting story ideas, doing research, plotting, getting words down on paper or what?  I wasn’t entirely sure what was meant by “the writing process.”
In today’s world when in doubt or ignorance, google.  It was with some relief I discovered I hadn’t missed the chalkboard completely.  As you can tell by the graphic above and if you check the links below there are five steps (more or less) to the writing process. Several of the sites offer help when you run into problems with the writing process.
 The ABC’s of the Writing Process  is an informative and entertaining site. 
Wikipedia  has an in-depth look at various approaches to the process. 
The Purdue online Writing Lab  has several helpful links for the process and troubleshooting when you get stalemated. 
Cleveland State University has a very pendantic approach which can be applied to romance writing although it is geared for thesis writing.

The Writing Process  1.  Prewriting  2.  Writing  3.  Revising  4.  Editing   5.  Publishing

I could say that publishing has been my problem of late since I’ve indie published Honour’s Debt.  But publishing is the endgame.  You have to have a completed manuscript before you can fret about getting it into print or digital formats.

Prewriting?  It is a mixed bag for me.  Research is a joy!  There is nothing like the chase for the right setting, time period, and details. 

Plotting?  Not so much, especially since I’m not conversant in using the terms Pat and Roz speak about so confidently and use so compellingly--plot points, black moments, character arcs, etc.  Perhaps it’s because I never knew another writer until after I was published.  Whatever the reason, I am definitely challenged in that area.  Thus I outline a story and my characters run away with it.  They leave me to muddle through their plot twists.  It is a writing weakness of mine that my stories come to me rather full blown.  When they don’t and I manufacture plot points I struggle to write the story.  Not a good thing for a fiction writer.

Revising?  Once I have the story’s first draft revising is no problem for me.  A former teacher, I just change my writing hat to an editing fedora and I’m good to go. 

Nothing has stymied me the past two years as much as a lack of writing persistence.  You’ve heard of it the solution--butt-in-chair-hands-on-keyboard.  A simple enough concept and yet I find myself yielding to the slightest distraction.  Free cell, helping my brother pick grapes in his vineyard, spider solitaire, sewing a quilt top for my niece, solitaire, playing with my grandchildren.  Huge sigh.  I do have two huge issues on my plate that are more than distracting but there was a time when even such serious problems didn’t stop my writing.  I’ve changed and the solutions I once employed to increase productivity no longer work.  I can’t seem to live with writing at the moment and I can’t live without it.  A conundrum but I’m certain there is an answer to it lurking in the shadows of my life.  Curiosity got the cat and it may get me through this slump.  I ask myself just how much good is in my monumentally bad guy Donatien?  I once thought there was none but he surprised me in Honour’s Redemption.  I have to write the next book to find out.  That will get my fingers moving.

Lastly some self promotion.  The Promise Rose, my Avalon book released in 2003, has just been released as an ebook by Regency Reads.

Could I Please Get A Clone And A side Of Fries With My Order? By Reese Mobley

This month we’re blogging about our biggest writing challenge.  For me, this is a no-brainer.  Times two. 

Time management and self-confidence.  I fail miserably at both.  In my naive little existence, I truly believed that once my kids had flown the coop, life would get easier and less busy.  No longer would I be obligated to drive my little darlings to their meetings, practices or get bleacher butt while sitting through another athletic event.  Boy was I wrong.

The days of blaming my posterior on anything athletic are in my rearview mirror.
So what’s the deal?  Why don’t I have any more free time? And why don't I utilize the time I do have?  Let's see a show of hands if you know.  I'm sure my family and friends are all waving madly at their monitors right now.  

Quite simply, I like to do things.  And go places.  You know, stay busy until my head hits the pillow.  Throw completing this latest manuscript in that mix, and it's a wonder I get any sleep at all.  A quick check in the mirror daily warrants a string of promises that I'll try to get more sleep.  Actually slow down and relax.    

A few years ago, I asked my husband for two more hours a day.  I'm not sure he even tried to get it for me. Clearly, he wasn't looking out for my best interests.  

Or maybe he was.

My second biggest challenge is self-confidence.  I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by so many talented writers that I pretend to know what the heck I'm doing, but deep down, I'm clueless.  These writers are prolific in ways I can only dream about.  I know they must have clones cleaning their houses, doing their yard work, laundry and baking brownies for their grandkids.  How else can you explain their mounting word counts?  They have talent, tenacity and lack of bleacher butt.  

Would it kill them to share?  All but the bleacher butt part.