Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Writing Life

by Stephanie Morrill (but only kind of!)

I'm really excited about today because we're doing our first in a series of many 1 question interviews. We'll be doing this about once a month on Go Teen Writers where we ask a group of authors the same question. It'll be something that pertains to writing or the life of a writer.

This month's question has two parts to it:

What to you is the hardest part of writing craft-wise
and what is the hardest part lifestyle/career wise?






The most difficult part for me is the first chapter. I don't do much in
the way of rewrites, except for that first chapter.

As far as the most difficult part of the profession--Probably balance.
Because I work at home, I keep thinking I should do the dishes, vacuum
the floor, walk the dog, make my husband a gourmet meal--as if I could
cook a gourmet meal. . .




For me personally it is the first draft, because it's very difficult to put what you know is sub-standard on the screen. The first draft is always in need of editing and change, but if I don't create it I have nothing to work with. Still, it's hard to push past that reluctance to read my own drek.

Writing tends to be a lonely profession. I work at home. It's easy to get distracted without a boss "in the office."




The hardest part of writing craft-wise for me is raising the stakes. I'm the most natural at creating internal conflict among my characters - a "characer driven writer" - but sometimes I really struggle with raising those external stakes and driving the plot forward. I might have created this awesome, in depth, relatable, strong backstory that drives the character forward but....I have no idea what she's actually going to be DOING during the story. haha! That's where my fabulous brainstorming partners come in! ::grin::

The hardest part of the writer's lifestyle for me is time balance. I'm a work-from-home mother of a three-year-old, and I not only have regular book contracts and deadlines to meet, but I freelance for my local newspaper, maintain a part time oil&gas industry job, am list hostess for the ACFW and still am responsible for the majority of my household. Not to mention maintaining the publicity/marketing for my novels such as book signings, blogging, writing monthly columns, etc. My husband is a fireman with a second job and is often working weird hours, so I maintain a constant level of high responsibility. Finding the time and creativity/energy to write is often a challenge under these circumstances,  but I'm blessed that God keeps working it out for me. I might be able to be productive on my novel for only 15 minutes a day some days, but somehow I can always make those few minutes count. I'm a firm believer in holy time warps ::wink::





The hardest part of writing itself is reining myself in and keeping stories in my targeted word count. I'm verbose--a.k.a long winded, LOL, and tend to let my characters get into far more than they need to.

The hardest part of the lifestyle for me is being content with where I am, when I'm there. It's sometimes a real struggle for me to turn off the I-NEED-to-write thought and do what needs done in real life. And sometimes it's still hard for me not to look at the success of others and wonder when and if I'll get to THAT level. But both require trust that the Lord has put me exactly where I'm supposed to be.




The hardest part of the craft of writing has changed for me. When I first began to write, I was weakest in the area of pacing. I think this is a common problem of new writers. We have a plot, but learning pacing, how to  present the plot—organizing the scenes and relaying information—was more difficult. I’ve mastered that now after writing more than fifty novels, but it was difficult.

Now after having so many published novels, the hardest part of crafting is two-fold. The first is after sending a proposal for a book or a book series to my editors, having them come back with revisions. The second part that is difficult for me is the editors often change the title. The tile is woven throughout the novel, but with the change, it doesn’t work.  Sometimes I go in and remove dialogue or narrative to get rid of some of the hints and then try to weave the new title into the story.  But that’s a small complaint when I count the joy of being the writer I wanted to be even as a child.

Second part of the question:  When I first began to write, I had the leisure of writing at the speed I wanted. I had no deadlines or promotion demands. Becoming a traditionally published novelist changes that. When you accept a contract, you also provide the date the novel will be completed. This means it will be on their desk on that date. Often I must stop work on the current book to address the line edits, copy edits and galley (final) edits of a manuscript. I re-read the novel and approve changes they have made or make the changes they ask me to handle. While I’m working on edits on one book and writing another, I sometimes have another book being released to stores. The work is unending. Novelists must learn to sacrifice things in their lives to provide the time to be the novelist they want to be. Is it worth it? Yes, I have been very blessed. Reader mail and emails, reviews and speaking to readers touches my heart when I learn that the book has been a blessing to them.


What about YOU? What obstacles have been most difficult for you to overcome?

23 comments:

  1. I'm loving the new GTW look. It was such a shock to pull it up and see such a change... ;)It's quite awesome and makes me want to explore it all over again. Okay, now to the question.

    An obstacle that stands in my way time and time again is insecurity, and, like Roseanna said, "being content where I am, when I'm there." I notorious at comparing myself to others, saying, "Why can't I be more like that?" I'm trying to learn that my writing has a purpose, even if it's not what I expected, and to let God use me and my words no matter how He chooses.

    I'm curious, Stephanie, what the hardest part about writing for you? :)

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    1. Thanks Clare! Glad you like it.

      Insecurity is a big factor for me too. And it's tough for it NOT to be when publishing houses are looking at you going, "How many novels did you sell last year? This other writer writes the same genre as you but they sold twice as many units."

      I found myself nodding along with Betsy's answer the most. Craft wise, stakes are definitely the hardest for me, especially in my realistic fiction.

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  2. The hardest part about writing for me is confidence. I have a hardtime believing o can really write, or that anything of mine could be good. It's probably a common complaint, but it's my hardest obisticle. I don't like to show my work to people, just in case it is as bad as I think it is.

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    1. I think this is one of my trouble spots too. I tend to think that everything I write is terrible. I also struggle with gripping the reader in the first chapter.

      Love the new design btw! :)

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    2. Thanks RJ!

      Confidence is huge for a lot of writers. It's a tough task, being confident enough to put yourself out there .... but remaining teachable as well.

      It took me a long time to get used to showing my work to people. Even now, when I send something to my agent, I'm checking my email every 2 minutes to see if she's responded. And if it's been more than 24 hours, I'm thinking, "She hates it. She's regretting signing me."

      And most my other writer friends are the same, so I think you guys are in good company, anyway, with confidence being an issue :)

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  3. I was very surprised to see a different design on Go Teen Writers this morning--but I LOVE it!! it is bit more simple and understated but extraordinarily cute. Nice job, Mrs. Morrill. How did you come up with this?

    Thanks to all of the authors who contributed to this post; it is very good post. I enjoyed it a lot. Such a creative idea, too! Thanks you!

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    1. Thanks 4readin! LOTS of time in photoshop is how I did it. And I kept checking the colors with my husband because I'm a teensy-bit color blind.

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  4. Cool, cool, cool!
    I freaked out and thought I went to the wrong blog at first, but I totally love the new look. It makes me want to eat chocolate:)

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    1. Lol, MaddieJ. Glad you like it. And I was likely dreaming about eating chocolate when I designed it.... :)

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    2. Haha, chocolate is a good thing to be thinking about;)

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  5. OMW, I actually have "Writing The Christian Romance" sitting next to me, right now. Um, coincidence? I think not.

    The hardest part for me is staying focused. I have so many story ideas, but to sit down and finish writing one of them? Seems impossible.

    Katelyn

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    1. Hi Katelyn - Be grateful for the story ideas. Some people only have one and then struggle to find another. What I do is jot down my ideas for another book -- the theme, a couple of characters or conflicts, a setting, some dialogue, the opening lines -- whatever it is that strikes you. If you jot down the ideas as they pop into your head, you won't lose them and they will be ready for you when you finish the book that you're working on. I do this too since my mind holds so many ideas I think my head might explode. And thanks for purchasing Writing the Christian Romance. Check my blog as well - www.writingright-martin.blogspot.com

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  6. Woooo! The new blog design looks great!

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  7. Wow, I had to do a double take to make sure I didn't have the wrong website. lol
    1. I guess just sitting down and writing. I have a million great ideas swirling around in my head and it's sometimes more fun to fantasize then actually sit down and write.
    2. Definitely balance. As the second of 8, there's always someone else vying for computer time. Not to mention school, friends, church, and leisure time. All things that I love to do, so its difficult to find the balance and get my writing done, too.

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    1. Haha I love fantasizing too. I've been fantasizing since I was in preschool, but I've only recently started writing some of it down. When I'm fantasizing, I can just jump to random scenes and think them out, but when I'm writing, I feel like I should go from the beginning.

      And haha I like thinking stories about big families, but it might not be as much fun all the time to actually live in one... Maybe you should try writing in a notebook? And then you could type it up later. Just a thought :)

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    2. Yeah, I do sometimes. It's just sort of annoying to have to type it up, before I can get started with writing new stuff. :p

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  8. Love the new look, the background is like denim!

    I have a totally different comment in my mind when I read the post. Then I read the comments and I realized something. I was going to say I have a lot of struggles when I comes to writing but I think most of them stem from doubt & insecurity that keep me from really pursuing. I thought I was going to be the only person to say, that no one else could possible feel as insecure & unconfident as I do. But its basically been said be everyone! Which is funny to me bc I read the posts on the fb page & think everyone is so much farther ahead of me that I must have some writing development disorder or something.
    I struggle with sticking with it, plot, pacing, balance real life the whole shebang & I think irs worse bc I'm not sure my writing is good. I'm afraid I'm wasting my time & energy when I don't have energy to waste.
    Somehow I stuck it out through one first draft & at times I thought "everyone's first draft is supposed to be bad but I bet mine is the worst ever" but i got it done. Now it's resting & the same doubt that stopped me for so long in a first draft is stopping me from developing an idea.
    At least I know for sure I'm not alone. I have to save this to read when I feel like I'm the only one that thinks this way!

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    1. When I'm writing, I don't think about "I want this thing to be published someday". I just focus on writing for me, and getting my story out. That makes it a little easier for me.

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  9. The new look is adorable!!

    In all honesty, I am a big procrastinator. And that is what mainly keeps me from writing. :)

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  10. Lydia Grace HartJune 15, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Okay, excuse me for a moment while I go into my weird mode, but "This new look is CUTE!" Imagine that in a fake (but polished)southern accent, and you'll see what I mean by weird mode. These colors and styles work fandandylously together, btw. Nicely done, Stephanie.
    Okay, weirdness over.
    My biggest struggle is follow-through, I think. I have this huge plan in my head, confuddlingly thought out (I think of the plot, write the beginning, make sure the ending is solid in my head, plan the 'drama', then fill in the blanks.) but I always end up failing to get very far. I think too much (and use too many made up words. lol).

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  11. Lydia has given me a new word: fandandylously. I just love that. <3

    Almost as much as I love all these great quotes and eye-openers at what it's like to real full-time (mostly?) author. Can't wait to see what the rest of the questions and answers are like!

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    1. You just made my day :)

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  12. The most challenging thing for me is my word count. I am good at writing short stories but I R-E-A-L-L-Y want to write a novel! I need to get my word count up there...

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