Wednesday, August 19, 2009

False starts and stalled engines...

Starting a novel. Are there any more exciting or terrifying words in the English language?

Well, maybe "rejection" or "revisions" - but that' s a post for another day! =)

I've titled this post "False starts and stalled engines" because some days that's exactly what writing is. Getting going good only to crash into a dead end wall. Or have a failed engine due to lack of caffeine =P Trust me, you are not alone in this!
I've realized over my career that every writer has their own system of particulars that works for them. I enjoyed reading about Erynn and BJ's systems. And for my post on starting a novel, I'm going to take Christiana's questions from Erynn's post earlier in the week and answer them here.

Fellow Scribble Chicks, chime in on the comments if you have something to add!

Christiana asked the following questions: As a fellow writer, I am greatly looking forward to learning more about the process you girls use. Do you keep a writing schedule? I love the idea of a writing schedule, and while I wish I could have a set one, its impossible. I have a 13 month old daughter and while she is great at playing by herself at my feet while I work, it's sporadic at best. I might have ten minutes here, or twenty minutes there before she attempts a diving leap off my office wicker chair or pinches her finger while playing with the leather filing cabinet drawer. I'm on mom-duty 24/7 as a stay-at-home mommy, but what DOES work for me is nap time!! =) So almost every weekday from 11-1, it's writing time. Mommy time. ME time. There are always exceptions but usually this works pretty well. (so far...)

Do you write every day or just on certain days of the week? I average writing 5 days a week, writing during naptimes and on rare occasions after Audrey goes to bed and I'm still awake enough to comprehend thoughts. Sometimes 6 days a week, since Saturdays are like any other day around here if Hubby is working one of his two days. Sundays I rarely write just because church interferes with naptime and Audrey's schedule gets thrown off, so we compensate the rest of the day with added randomness! =)

What time of day do you find you write your best work? 11-1. haha Just because it's my only option! Back when I worked outside of the home and often could find time to squeeze in some writing on slow work days, I found myself to be most creative and inspired mid/late morning. Afternoons are hard for me. But 11-1 is working pretty well. Amazing how inspired we can get when we have no other choice =P

What does your creative space look like (pics would be fantastic!) Here's a pic of my home office! Note all the baby toys! hehe And the homemade computer desk my dad built from scratch a dozen years ago.

How on earth do you girls manage to stay in shape when your job requires you to be stationary for the greater part of the day? Awww thanks! lol I feel blobby still after having a baby. It's been a year and weight-wise I'm back to my original number but toning wise, not so much! I work at it though, and every morning before we get started for the day I do some home exercises. Crunches, pushups, stretches, squats, etc. Any little thing helps, but what also helps is chasing a mobile 13 month old around =)

Seriously though, I am very careful what I eat because know how easy it is for writers to get wide! I count calories, which is how I lost those 45 lbs of baby weight. I'm a schedule/routine girl, and I eat similiar items in low fat and low calorie every day, so I'm used to it. Cereal, granola bars, sandwiches, low calorie cookies or popsicles, Diet Coke, etc. It's not really a sacrifice anymore though fast food is soooo tempting now that Audrey eats her own happy meals! lol

Here's a pic from toward the end of my pregnancy! I had a ways to go as you can tell!

ANYWAY, the bottom line to starting a novel is, no matter where you are writing, what office or set up you have, or what time of day it is, just write! Just get started. Pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, whatever method you choose, just do it! If you're a plotter, then plot it out first. Write a summary, get to know your characters. Or if you're a "seat of the pantser" like Erynn and BJ, go with it. Find YOUR flow and do what works for YOU.

Since I sell by proposal now, I have to give my editor a 3-5 page synopsis of the entire story, and the first three chapters, before contracting and writing the rest of the novel. So I HAVE to know what happens in the book, therefore my "wing it" days are over! But I like it this way. It works better for me, personally.
Great questions, Christiana! Thanks for spurring the convo! If anyone has any other "getting started" or writing related questions at all, please ask and we'll address them in additional posts! We're here to help and share!


  1. The posts on here about starting a novel were so helpful, because I just started the first draft of my second book today :) I tend to be a 'seat of the pants' type of writer, but with this book, I did a little bit of out-lining first. Anyway, great post! :)

  2. This blog was such a great idea for aspiring writers! I don't have any questions yet but I'm sure I'll have some as more posts come!!

  3. Aw! You girls are so sweet! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Betsy!

    Your writing space looks so cozy, and I love the desk your dad built you! I'm sure it's extra special for you to sit at it, knowing it was built with love so many years ago.

    What a cute little baby bump you had there! Pregnancy does a lot of crazy things to a woman's body, but you look fantastic! Are you the only mama of the group? I adore the name Audrey, btw. Lots of good associations with that name.

    These posts are so helpful. Thank you so much for your willingness to pass on your knowledge and wisdom. Keep 'em coming!