I am so lucky to have Avery Flynn as a fellow Waterworld Mermaid – a group of new members to the Washington Romance Writers. We hit it off right away because she is funny, smart, gorgeous . . . and she thinks I am as well. So, we get along famously! She also runs life at a breakneck speed and juggles many different hats just like me and probably most of you. Here is her take on slowing the pace down a little bit . . .
I had the horrible misfortune of having to give up coffee recently. It seems years of drinking at least a pot of coffee by myself on a daily basis turned me into a bit of a jittering, poor-circulation freak with fingers that turned white and went numb. Not so great if you spend the day clacking away at the keyboard. The fix? Cut out caffeine.
In December, I switched from black coffee to herbal tea. Don’t talk to me about decaf coffee – it’s a sacrilege. When making tea, you have to wait for the kettle to boil. Then, you have to let the tea seep. Five minutes later you finally have a single cup of tea. The switch from coffee to tea forced me to slow down.
I’m burying the lede here, but I swear I have a writing-related point and it’s this: Isn’t it time you slowed down in your writing?
As writers we’re urged, prodded and taunted into just finishing that draft. Hate your heroine? Don’t think about it, just push onward. Plagued by paper-thin motivation? You’ll fix it in revisions. Missing meaningful conflict? You’ll beef it up in the next draft. Well, that’s what I did during NaNo. Then I went back and reread the tens of thousands of words I’d written.
Most of them were crap. Total crap.
The doubt monster sat down next to me and began wondering out loud what in the hell was I thinking to call myself a writer. Lucky me, I have some wonderful fellow writers who are amazing in moments like these and told me exactly what I needed to hear: Suck it up and fix what needs to be fixed.
So, instead of trying to rush through that first draft, I sat back and went into slow mode. What’s slow mode? Glad you asked.
1. Walk away from the computer. Close the laptop, wheel back the chair and go outside. Pretend for at least a weekend that you’re not a crazy writer, you’re a normal human being who doesn’t talk to imaginary people.
2. Read a book. Don’t do this as a writer, relax back into reading a book as a reader. Don’t judge, don’t critique and don’t get down on your own skills. Let yourself fall into another writer’s world and recapture what it is about the world of romance that you love.
3. Think about your book. What do you love and what makes your stomach twist into knots? Take the time to really ponder and plan the main conflicts in your story and how you can raise the stakes.
4. Focus on the first chapters, the ones up to your first turn, without placing any arbitrary deadlines or word count goals on yourself. Move on from there at your own pace. Don’t freak out about how much your writing every day. It’s quality not quantity.
5. Fall in love with you story again. If you don’t love it, no one else will either.
The slow method is the writing equivalent of switching from espresso to herbal tea. The transition may be rocky at first, but it’s amazing how well it will get your fingers moving across the keyboard.
Do you need to slow down? Have you made changes to your writing life that forced you to slow and breathe?
Debut author, Cynthia D’Alba, is here on Wednesday to talk about the importance of naming your characters.
Romantic suspense novelist Avery Flynn’s first Dry Creek novel, Up a Dry Creek, was published in 2011. Her latest, A Dry Creek Bed, has just been released by Evernight Publishing. RT Book Reviews gave A Dry Creek Bed four star review, calling it “molten hot.”
Born and raised in western Nebraska, the setting of her fictional town of Dry Creek, she now lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. There she continues to write and work at her day job while enjoying her own happily ever after with her husband, three children and two dogs.
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