Today I’ve taken a break from writing to share my indie author interview over on Booksbyilcruz. Please stop by and check out this new feature.
Today I’m really pleased to share a guest post from fellow writer, Ari Meghlen. She has some great tips for keeping your writing projects under control. Read on to find out more…
Keeping the Rabble in Line: How to stick to one story
A Writer’s Life
I always knew I was meant to be a writer. Even in those very early years when I struggled to read and was way behind, regarding reading levels compared to other children my age. After all, my inability to read well never stopped the ideas from coming.
While I loved to draw and was not bad at it, art never seemed enough to give all these ideas life! So, writing was the only way to go.
A Rabble of Chattering Ghosts
I have been blessed (and cursed) with always having ideas. Any time I suffered writers block, it was usually due to mental burn-out or a stubborn plot-hole that just won’t play ball. It was never due to lack of ideas.
I appreciate that is something I am lucky to have. However, it does have its downside. It’s certainly hard to complete a current project when some juicy new idea pops up demanding attention.
I recently discussed the concept of Muses and how to me, my Muses were a rabble of chattering ghosts. And might I say, they’re a rude, demanding lot too!
Their chatter follows me everywhere – in the car, in the grocery store, in the shower. I am forever reaching for a pen or grabbing my phone to jot down a note. It can be anything from a character, a scene or just an abstract concept or question.
It is awesome to have so many ideas. I love that I have enough ideas to keep me going for years to come.
However, it’s also a bad thing because all this chattering is a deep distraction. What is the point of having enough ideas for dozens of books, if I never finish any?
Acknowledging Bad Writing Habits
When I was younger, I fell into very bad habits. The ones where I would drop a working project (no matter how far into it I was) to start another. I felt as if every time a new idea crept up, I had to seize it!
That entailed abandoning story after story as I chased down whatever my chattering ghosts gave me.
This is a great route for disaster as a writer. Does it sound familiar? Have you ever caught yourself doing this?
We do it for many reasons, here are just a few:
- New and Shiny – I feel like writers are a bit like magpies. We are easily distracted by shiny objects and new ideas are those shiny objects. They draw our eye and it becomes our focus… until the next shiny appears.
- FOMO – Fear of Missing Out is a big one for people. Whether you get an idea for a story that is in a trending genre and want to exploit that, to feeling the new idea would be a better, more solid first novel to bring out than your current one. Sometimes we fear missing the opportunity that might be better for us.
- Ninja Level Procrastinator – Many writers don’t realise, but story-hopping is a type of procrastination. Some people have a (often unconscious) fear of completing their work so story-hopping allows them to procrastinate and never actually finish while still considering themselves writers.
But as writers, no matter what our reason, it’s not something we should do. It is more damaging in the long run.
Exorcise the Ghosts with a Brain Dump
So, what do you do if you’re bombarded by ideas all the time?
First, you need to acknowledge the new ideas.
Don’t try and ignore them as some will slip away, and you might always wonder if it could have been something great. Others will just bang loudly on the door, constantly demanding entry and stop you from working anyway.
Second, exorcise the ghosts with a good, solid brain dump.
This is where you just get all the chatter out of your head. Open a new document, save it in an Ideas folder and then just type. Whatever they are giving you – character descriptions, scraps of scenes, plot, dialogue, questions.
The idea here is to purge your mind of all the noise but don’t expand on it. Don’t jot down the basis of a plot and then spend 3 months developing it. That’s working on the project, whereas what you want to do is just create notes.
All the while remind yourself that your current project is being delayed and you must go back to it.
Third, expect that this brain dump might not be 100% done in one sitting.
For the few days following, additional pieces of ideas may pop up. Keep your Idea file open while you’re working on your current WIP and just jump into the document to add the odd nugget as it comes.
This is JUST for the straggler ideas and should not go longer than a few days. Anything beyond that and you’re working on your new project. Be firm, give yourself a cut off.
When you’ve gotten the chatter to hush, throw your focus back at your current WIP with vigour and let the idea sit patiently in its folder. Ideas must be taught to wait their turn.
Be Firm, and Cling to Your Discipline
While writers could possibly do with some drill sergeant keeping us in line, most of us don’t have that so we must rely on our own sense of discipline (terrifying, I know!)
But if you want to be a writer, if you want to complete something and get it published, you need to be firm.
Don’t read the notes you’ve made on your new project. Don’t keep thinking about it. Believe me when you come back to those notes eventually, they will still trigger ideas and you can build on it then.
Why an Outline can help keep the Ghosts under control
There is a lot to be said for having an outline of your work. If you have a strong, detailed outline written for your current work, you will find that the desire to drift off to new projects is somewhat diminished.
This is because often writers will feel a spark with new ideas, especially if they aren’t 100% sure where their current work is going. So, rather than just sitting staring at a screen and dealing with the plot-hole or up-coming conflict, we drop it and turn to the new project.
An outline is a map, showing you the way. It reduces the need for staring blankly at a page, trying to figure out where you’re going in the story.
I was a pantser for a long time and my work has suffered because of it. I have been much better since I (with brutal reluctance) started to do full, detailed outlines.
Those whispered ideas don’t grab me as tightly any more because my focus draws right back to the next scene I need to write in my current WIP.
So, do you often find yourself swayed by the siren of new ideas? How have you managed to stop yourself from dropping one project to start another?
A big thanks to Suzanne for letting me be on her blog, much appreciated.
At the age of 8, Ari Meghlen wanted to be a pirate, because who doesn’t look great in baggy pantaloons and an eyepatch. However, lacking any access to a ship this dream was relegated along with so many others: Professional Ninja, Best Friend to a Dragon, Palaeontologist.
Yet Ari found that, in stories, she could be anything she wanted and so a great love affair started with the written word. She mainly writes Preternatural Urban Fantasy as well as more Traditional Fantasy.
When she’s not creating worlds from the screaming, shuddering recesses of her mind, Ari can be found blogging about writing on her website or indulging in other hobbies such as drawing, shooting arrows, watching movies, playing cards badly.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/writerarimeghlen
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here and I’m really pleased to break back into blogging with a guest post from Rebecca Howie during her pre release blog tour. Her second novel, A Woman Scorned is book 2 in The Sam Beckett Mysteries and will be released on 10th December. It’s already available for pre-order, I’ve included a link further below in the post.
When I agreed to join Rebecca’s blog tour, the first thing that sprung to mind was why did she choose to write YA mystery. I love detectives and mystery thrillers, but it isn’t something I’m familiar with in the YA genre. I was fascinated by Rebecca’s response, so here is her guest post on the subject…
Why I chose YA
After a very long year of writer’s block, false-starts and dead-ends, I finally managed to finish my second novel in October, and with the last words written, I’ve been taking a well-earned break. But that didn’t last long, because when Suzanne generously offered to be a stop on my blog tour and I got started planning my guest post, it got me thinking about my decision to write The Game Begins, and the reasons I made it a YA mystery instead of just a regular mystery with a regular ex-alcoholic grump of a detective.
And the truth is, there wasn’t really a conscious decision to start writing a YA mystery novel. I’d been out of school for almost six months, and I was writing because I suddenly found myself with loads of free time on my hands and didn’t have anything else to do, and I was almost halfway through a first draft before I decided I wanted to keep going with it and see where it ended up.
It wasn’t a surprise that The Game Begins ended up as a YA Mystery, because I loved YA novels before I knew they were called YA novels and I have too many mysteries on my bookshelves to even attempt to count them, but I can remember why I started that first draft, the reason I logged out of my Archive of our Own account and opened a new Word document, and that was a question I started asking myself a few months after I’d left school and was spending most of my time writing fanfiction.
Writing was a coping mechanism for me I didn’t know I needed until I’d finished the first draft of The Game Begins and looked back over it and realised that if someone gave me a decade’s worth of therapy vouchers, they’d be well received, and with the emotional upheaval of ending what was basically a thirteen-year prison sentence (or, as some people know it, school), I was writing a lot.
But after a few months of this, I started to find myself getting annoyed, because I’d realised that regardless of who was writing their own version of their favourite detective, they never wrote about the ‘tragic backstory’ until the action was winding down and the main characters needed something to talk about.
And that was where I got the idea for The Game Begins: I couldn’t understand why detective stories always started in the middle, and never started from the beginning.
Was there some kind of rule which said that every fictional detective or PI needed to be middle-aged? And divorced with a daughter who used to worship the ground they walked on but now hated their guts?
Why couldn’t they be detectives in their teenage years? Why did we have to read about the traumatic childhood events when they were in their forties, instead of when those traumatic events were actually taking place?
It seemed like a simple question at the time, but after writing two books in an attempt to answer it, I think I understand why everyone prefers to use flashbacks or the occasional therapy session. Although that being said, I am only two books in, and Sam has plenty of stories left to tell.
Thanks very much Rebecca, I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the Sam Beckett Mysteries series.
Book 2 – A Woman Scorned is available now for preorder.
Returning home days after leaving town wasn’t a decision Sam Beckett made lightly, and the newspaper articles detailing her shooting aren’t making her choice any easier to accept.
When a therapist is found dead in her office, Sam decides to work with CID and Detective Marshall on the case, hoping that the dead woman’s troubles will be enough to help her forget her own. but with Dr Weiss’ perfect image slowly crumbling as the investigation progresses, Sam finds that she isn’t the only person hiding behind a lie, and that uncovering someone else’s could have been what led Dr Weiss to her death.
I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of A Woman Scorned and look forward to sharing my review in the new year.
I wish Rebecca every success with her new novel and look forward to reading more of Sam’s adventures in the future. And I hope you will be inspired by this young author and pre-order her book now.
Today I am really excited to welcome Colleen Story to my blog for a guest post all about research…
The One Question You Need to Ask When Doing Writing Research
When Suzanne first asked me about the research I did for my newly released non-fiction book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, and how it differed from the research I did for my novels, my first thought was, Oh it’s completely different.
But then as I starting looking into it, I thought, Well, maybe not—there actually are a lot of similarities.
In discovering those similarities, I’ve found that no matter what type of writing you’re doing, it’s important to ask one question. The answer will help you determine whether the research will benefit the writing or not.
Health Writing is Researching in its Purest Form
I’ve been researching non-fiction writing for over 20 years. I specialize in health writing. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, just imagine me writing research papers all day long on things like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, preventative care, alternative treatments, nutrition, and the like.
Sounds about as fun as a root canal, right?
Well, if you’re interested in what you’re researching, it can be fun, and much of the time, I am. Over the years, I’ve gradually expanded into personal growth, motivation, and creativity, which I particularly enjoy, and for which the research can be extremely intriguing.
I’ve written fiction for about the same period of time, but for years, I didn’t research it at all. Looking back, I think I probably avoided it simply to get away from what to me was my “day job” as a freelance writer. Fiction was my time to play and indulge my creative muse—I certainly didn’t want to bring any dry research into it.
When I started writing novels, though, that had to change, at least somewhat.
Gradually, My Fiction Writing Began to Require Some Research
My first novel was a fantasy, so I researched things that appealed to my imagination, like gargoyles, stone sculptures, and ancient myths and legends—all fun stuff that didn’t really seem like “research.” Instead, I was indulging my own sense of curiosity.
You see, in my mind, research is tough. I’m used to regularly reading challenging material that typically goes something like this:
“Most studies agree that the classical pathological criteria for AD, neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, can account for 40%–70% of the variance in cognition seen in elderly subjects, with additional pathologies such as cerebrovascular disease (Dolan et al. 2010b) and Lewy body pathology (Schneider et al. 2007) working together with AD pathology to account for an additional 20%–30% of dementia cases. (O’Brien and Wong, Annu Rev Neurosci., 2011)”
Not exactly light reading, and this is one of the simpler ones. After a day of it, you’re ready to move onto something else.
So “researching” my fiction has always been restricted to an “as needed” and “for fun” basis. I really didn’t think of it as a key component in my fiction writing—until the last couple years.
As promised, here’s the link to my guest post on Louderthansilver.
I hope you enjoy seeing how writing has influenced my learning. And in case you missed it yesterday, I posted some photos of the birds of prey I visited a few weeks ago in the name of research (and because I love them).
Join me again tomorrow for the last day of the blog tour.
Today’s stop on The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour is at ‘The Royal Polar Bear Reads’ for an interview and Guest post on Why Authors Need Book Reviewers.
Hi, Suzanne! First of all, Thank you for letting me be a part of your blog tour and this is a wonderful opportunity!
I’m really pleased you’ve agreed to join The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour.
First question! Can you tell us why did you want to be a fantasy author and how did you become one?
I’ve always wanted to be an author, I just didn’t know what I wanted to write until I read my first fantasy novel at the age of 17. The genre encompasses everything I love in fiction, plus I get to create whole worlds, magic systems, races of people and their histories.
To get to the stage I felt good enough to self-publish took many years of learning my craft. I have completed online courses, attended evening creative writing classes, I’ve used critique services and made friends with fellow writers who are now my…
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On day 6 of the blog tour I’m featured over on Sacha Black’s blog, sharing my insight on writing a standalone novel vs a series. I’ve devised 12 questions all writers can ask themselves before embarking on the task.
Please head over and let me know what you think.
The Lost Sentinel blog tour will continue later with a book review from Another World Book Blog. See you then.
As promised, here’s the first stop on The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour. Find out why I love spreadsheets as a writing tool.
I’ve always loved using excel spreadsheets, which probably goes back to my office job days (yawn!). But it was only as I recently plotted and planned the second book in my Silent Sea Chronicles, that I wondered if other writers had considered the benefits of using spreadsheets as a writing tool. Excel is great for;
- Planning your novel
- Plan scenes in brief (or detailed if you prefer)
I do a mixture of both on the spreadsheet. Sometimes I plot out the basic scene, but I might add a few bits of dialogue to help me get into the scene when it comes to actually writing it.
- It’s easy to copy, cut and move scenes around until you find the right place for them in the story.
- Keep track of viewpoint characters
This is great when you have a cast of characters. I don’t like to leave too long between…
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The next volume in the Birth of Saints series is available now!
Following Grudging–and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall–religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck’s Birth of Saints series!
A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.
Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?
On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.
What they find instead is an old woman.
But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.
A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.
Faithful– November 15, 2016
Also enter to win a signed paperback of Grudging, the first book in the series:
A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.
The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.
On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.
The Women of the Song.
But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.
A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.
November 17, 2015
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two kids in college. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.
She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.
Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging and Faithful (November 15, 2016), is available from Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. She’s repped by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary.
I just wanted to share a link to my guest post over the Writing & Wellness blog run by Colleen M Story.
To view the article click here . While you’re there, have a look around. There are plenty of great articles to read.