A Writing Life

In the last few years, I have become more serious about working on the fiction that lives in my mind. It’s always been there, but I wasn’t ready or disciplined to do it, until now.

As a newspaper journalists, writing was done on the fly. I had a fast and furious daily deadline that I had to meet. I came in at 9 a.m., found my story for the day and off I went, hustling interviews, fact checking, finding art or getting a photo assigned. By 5 p.m. my story was written and turned into my editor. And I was planning my story for the next day.

It was a grind, but I liked the pace. And the deadline forced me to write.

Fiction is a whole other animal.

Deadlines are self-imposed now and there’s no one to hold you accountable except for yourself.  And guess what? You will forgive yourself for choosing gelator over sitting at your desk for hours. I do it all the time.

One of the best things that I ever did was to join a writer’s group. After years of thinking about it, I finally signed up, paid and started attending the Los Angeles chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Through the group, I met other writers,joined a group and suddenly had someone to be accountable too, it has been exactly what I need.

But what truly began to resonate is that the only way to write a book is to sit my ass down.

Here are some other little writing gems I’ve discovered since I’ve started working on my novel.

  • There’s always time to write. Even if it’s 20 minutes while the baby is napping and I’m trying to eat a piece of toast, take a minute and write a paragraph. A 100 words. Or jot some notes down that I can come back too.
  • The writing process begins in my head. A lot of times, I’m working on a chapter, flushing out character details or getting inspiration while I’m out living life. Washing my hair, pumping gas, changing a diaper, eating an apple. Ideas come from anywhere!  I carry a notebook with me and write ideas down. Or I just let it marinate in my mind.
  • I read Anne Lamont’s book Bird By Bird years ago where she said that every first draft is a “shitty first draft.” That helps to say out loud. The first draft doesn’t have to be great, it just has to get done. This is my mantra when I start getting sidetracked and rewrite a page over and over again. Just get the first draft done.
  • Let music inspire. I often will find that a certain song will make me think of my book, a character or a mood that I’m trying to get across in a scene. Sometimes playing that song will help me when I’m writing.
  • Eat lots of chocolate.  It inspires me!

What gets you writing? And what are some tips that have helped you?

I’d love to hear!

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