Merry-go-round Decision: What to Write Next?

Today the husband and kidlet are camping, which means I have the house to myself, and time to get a good chunk finished of the next draft of the WIP. Getting it closer to complete? Excellent.

Wondering what to write next? Not so good.

Probably on the basis that some part of me likes to worry, I’ve been worrying about what to write next. The paranormal market is down, and though I firmly believe it will recover (most trends don’t completely vanish forever, especially one like paranormal), but who knows how long that will take. So maybe I should write non-paranormal? But if it doesn’t have magic in it, can I write it? Do I want to?

And round and round the merry-go-round goes.

Occasionally, as I observe it going by, I wonder if I’m limiting myself by not writing outside paranormal. If I can. And of course, what I’m going to write next, paranormal or otherwise. Lots of advice says “write what most strongly calls to you.” Well, I have a whole book of ideas, but not one of them is talking very loud.

Maybe they got dizzy on the merry-go-round. 😉

And so I continue to spin. Though there are a few ideas, I’m not sure I’m ready to write them. Not sure I should.

Oh dear. Is that the direction I’m headed?

Back on the merry-go-round I go.

What about you: how do you decide what to work on next?

Thanks for reading, and happy writing out there to you. 🙂

Behind and Lucky Seven

I’m late again posting this week. Inside my head, it’s like the constant refrain of “The Conference is coming! The Conference is coming!”

No, I’m not actually a white rabbit, late, late, for a very important date, though I might as well be this week.  You see, I’m quite excited about the RWA National Conference in San Antonio July 24-27. But, I’m also going mad trying to meet my own self-imposed deadline to finish my current manuscript by that point, so  I have two projects I can “pitch” to editors and agents.

And, since I’m behind on so many things, I figure I might as well catch up twice.  I was “tagged” in Lucky 7 – which means go to page 7 or 77 of the current WIP, and post the next 7 or so lines.

So, from “Safe Haven,” maybe “Sanctuary’s Salvation,” here’s from pg 7, line 7:

Her brain fumbled around some more, trying to make sense of the off-the-scale weirdness that had ensued since the minute this man walked into the room. Think later, talk now. Tucking a bit of hair behind her ear, Tess offered a shaky but professional smile.
“I’m Tess.”
“Jake,” he offered, and held out his hand.
She stared at it like it was a rabid shark. The moment stretched until he cleared his throat and tucked his hand back in a pocket.
Her face burned. “Sorry, I, uh, bad cold. Wouldn’t want to spread it.” She faked the most pathetic cough. Ever.

And I’m tagging no one – but what to share below anyway? Share around 7 lines from page 7 or 77 of your current work.

Next week, hopefully I’ll, I don’t know, invent new time, and have a longer post. Until then, I’m off to send the kidlet for nap (again!), and then get some writing done. Happy writing out there!

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Good morning! The Writing Process Blog Tour arrives here today. It’s my turn to try and explain the madness that is my process.

How does it work? I answer a few simple questions, then tag the next author who will likewise answer the questions when they next post their blog. I was tagged by fellow 2014 Golden Heart sister, Denny Bryce, who writes romantic suspense (among other things). You can find her over at: dennysbryce.com

1. What am I working on?

This is a fairly easy question, since I tend to work on only one thing at a time (mostly). I’m working on a contemporary paranormal romance, with the working title of “Safe Haven” (which may become “Saving Sanctuary … or lots of other things). I’m into the second draft, and pushing to have it done by July and the RWA National Conference (wish me luck!).

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I primarily write Regency paranormal romance, which already differentiates me from lots of other paranormal writers out there (though I’m far from the only author writing that rather specific sub-genre.) But, like this current book is proving to me, I like to write books with somewhat quirky characters, a good dose of humor and sarcasm, and while they might have magical powers, it’s their humanity they really need to deal with. My werewolves rarely moan about being werewolves or having super powers (I mean, come on, super powers!). That said, their power and therefore authority can become a heavy burden or lead them down paths, and that’s what I love digging into.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write paranormal because I think the world needs a bit more magic. And, I believe that by looking at extraordinary acts of magic and things that are unbelievable, we’re better able to accept and see the real magic in our lives. Like love, or trying to figure out how a three-year-old’s mind works.

4. How does your writing process work?

My process changes a bit every time I write a new book, just like I often switch things up with each new book after reading a new writing craft book, hearing a new idea, or just deciding to experiment. But I have come to understand  I am not a plotter, at least not someone with detailed charts tracking every scene and character, etc. I’m also highly impatient, and want to jump into the story instead of sit around plotting. Fortunately, I also write faster than I plot.

I like the term “Gardener” a la George R. R. Martin (for more, check out this article here) rather than pantser. This means I get a hot idea I have to work with, usually after playing with my favorite “toy,” “What If?”. Usually this comes complete with a first scene, sometimes more, sometimes less, and I’m off. I do try and hold back, to make sure I know at least the major plot points, but sometimes I’m lying to myself. Like in this current WIP, where I didn’t really know any of that, and boy was it a mess.

But therein is my new and improved method: I have a very clear method of rewriting, rewrites in four easy phases. Going from macro (major structural changes), all the way down to micro (the proofreading, etc) (Still curious? I have a post on my revision plan here.)That way, once I figured out what information I’d been missing with the novel, I go back, make chapter by chapter summaries, and literally cut it up with scissors (very cathartic if you’re frustrated with the thing). THEN I try and put it back together again, looking just at the structure, adding notes for scenes that are missing, what scenes might fit where with alteration … and which ones literally don’t make the cut.

Since I’ve been working with that method this time, my second draft is a far cry from the tangled knot-work of the first draft. And I’ll be going over it one more time to see if it needs structural work before I move on to layering, transitions, and more detail work.  And yes, this means I’ve come to love rewriting, even though nothing beats the thrill of diving headlong and blind into that first draft.

So what about you? Is your process more madness than method? Or are you one of those detailed plotters I can only admire?

Next up, I tag another fellow 2014 Golden Heart sister, (and another Shelly!): Shelly Alexander. Check out her process when she posts next week.

Shelly grew up traveling the world, earned a BBA in Marketing, and worked in a corporate job, before marriage lured her to New Mexico in the early 90s. She spent years helping to run the family business, had three sons in as many years, and finally launched her writing career after surviving invasive breast cancer.

 

Now Shelly spends her days tending to an overweight English bulldog named Lola while writing steamy contemporary romances that will keep you laughing.

Website:  http://shellyalexander.net/

Twitter: @ShellyCAlexander

Using up Creativity?

Can creativity be “used up”?

I ask this as part question, part theory, as I’ve been pushing myself relentlessly to finish a new manuscript before the RWA National Conference in July. Which means I’ve been putting in  a minimum of about 5000 words a day, and on Saturday, actually got 9077 words written in one day. I haven’t posted totals like that in years! Hmm, that means last week (though I am in second draft) approximately 28,000 words (okay … give me a second here. I only just added that now, and I’m feeling a bit tired!)

Okay, so back to my question: can creativity be used up? Can I overexert my creative “muscle” to such an extent that I’ll dry up the creative well (oh my but for mixed metaphors!)

Here’s my theory.

On the one hand, I figure that while I’m a fairly fast writer, my totals are certainly not extraordinary. Other writers are much more prolific, and post higher word totals each week. And, like any other muscle (and part of why I suspect I’m getting continuously higher totals), the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes, and the more it can handle.

On the other hand (and I’m a Gemini, so I get to see the duality of glass half-full AND half-empty), I believe you can drain your creative well, as it were. If you keep on drawing material out but don’t replenish, why wouldn’t this be the case?

Which means to some extent, I think  you need some attention paid to refilling your creative well simultaneously as you draw on it when you do so excessively. Just as necessary as proper hydration when BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 015working out. 🙂 Otherwise, certainly one risks creative burn-out, where you just don’t feel you have anything else to draw on, and in writing, you just can’t come up with the words.

So I was thinking: have I been “replenishing” as I’ve been pushing so hard? I’ve been trying. I’ve:

  • been up in the craft room, finally making a new lining for my purse and cutting out new skirts for summer. (I left the fabric on its own for weeks beside the pattern, but evidently they lacked any natural inclination to turn themselves into clothing.)
  • watched a truly terrible film and picked it apart, considering the potential for what could have been– and how I can make sure I don’t make the same mistakes in my writing.
  • read a new book, surprising and outside of my usual fare. (But which has almost certainly added a new element to my current writing because of the subject matter.)
  • been outside fighting the mosquitoes and weeds, giving me plenty of time to think on random things and take out my frustrations on the weeds.
  • given myself permission to have fun in my work, go where the story takes me, and if I get stuck, have a shower where the ideas always whirl in the steam (I’ve so got to get one of those writable shower surfaces, like the ones intended for divers.)

So now I turn to you: what do you think? Do you think it’s possible to use up creativity? How do you “refill your creative well”? Come on, click the comment button. 😉

Thanks so much for reading, have a great week, and happy writing out there.