I wish I could tell you I have a set process of how I write a book, but that would be a lie. It seems like with each new project I have a different way of dealing with it. Well except for two things. I write down the draft really fast and there’s always music involved.
I believe in giving myself permission to write a crappy first draft. That takes a great deal of the pressure off and I believe it was Nora Roberts who said, “It’s impossible to fix a blank page.” I vomit out those words on to the page as fast as my fingers will type them. Well, that doesn’t mean I don’t get stumped sometimes. But I refuse to allow myself to have writer’s block. There are those who may say it isn’t, but I’m sorry, writers block is nothing but fear. It’s fear of the unknown. Fear of being stupid. It’s just fear. And we know fear isn’t real. It’s something we create. So I tell myself to get over it and I move to the next scene where I do know what happens.
The other consistency with me, is that each book has a soundtrack. The one I just finished was pretty mellow. I had a lot of Joss Stone (Body & Soul is my go-to album for just about all stages of writing), Marie Digby, Martina McBride, The Dixie Chicks and the Courtyard Hounds. There are other times when I’m writing with heavy metal or indie rock blaring. When I’m doing hard core revision, like I have been the last few weeks, that Joss Stone album helps me to focus. I think I’ve used that music so much that when it plays my brain says, “it’s time to work.”
Now, you’re thinking, Candy, you said earlier that every time you write it’s different. Well, how I come up with my ideas and how I choose to execute those drafts are what changes. Yes, I always write really fast, but there are times when I write absolutely chronologically and other times when I have to piece it together. With Dragons Prefer Blondes I had the first page and then the last chapter and I kept going from the beginning to the back of the book and eventually met myself somewhere in the middle. I’d never worked that way before.
With this last book, Truth and Dare, I had a really solid synopsis. That was different for Ms. Pantser. With that book I had the first three chapters and then I kept skipping to the next bits I knew. Then I’d write something and figure out what it was I needed back in that other chapter.
Right now I’m working on a proposal for Harlequin and while the first couple of chapters came easily, writing the synopsis has been hell. I know the story, but can’t seem to summarize it very well. Then this weekend I had an epiphany while at a class Lori Wilde was teaching about Themes. I think I’ve always done Themes quite naturally in my books, but for some reason on this new project I didn’t really have one. I had to sit down and really think about what my characters’ journeys were about. I’ve never done that before.
I just had a call from my editor and once I told her the character’s themes, she approved the books.
That’s one of the many reasons I still take classes all the time. I never know when I’m going to have one of those epiphanies. What Lori had to say really stuck with me and I finally figured out what my themes were about.
The whole point of this really long diatribe, is even if you’ve been writing the same way for 20 years, don’t be afraid to shake it up a little. Take some classes, listen to how others work and try to apply your own version of what you learn to your work. You never know what might happen!