About eight years ago I attended the annual conference for New Jersey Romance Writers. Since the conference takes place across the water from Manhattan, it usually draws some big names in romance fiction, and I hit the jackpot that year.
I sat next to Brenda Novak at lunch where we shared concerns over having sons with Type 1 diabetes. I attended a round-table discussion for published authors facilitated by Suzanne Brockman where she talked about how she was handling the emergence of self-publishing. And I attended a workshop led by Eloisa James. (Talk about writing “fan girl” heaven.) I don’t know what happened to the copious notes I took from these and other sessions, but one thing Eloisa James said stuck in my head all these years.
Someone asked her about her writing routine—what a typical writing day looks like. She didn’t answer right away but finally said (paraphrasing) that she spends a lot of her writing time thinking. She got a laugh from the audience, but it made sense.
Creating fiction, or any piece of writing, takes time in thought before you can start actually writing. Then as you’re putting your story to words, you sometimes have to stop and adjust, maybe consider a different angle or research a point.
Writing takes a lot of thought, and that requires time.
I was reminded of that this week, Friday night actually, when I staggered home after a 12-hour day at the “paycheck job,” exhausted, discouraged and ready for more than bed. I was ready, in that moment, to sit down and tell TPM (The Plot Master a/k/a hubby a/k/a my critique partner) that I was taking a break from writing until the day I could (hahahaha) leave full-time employment and maybe get a part-time job.
I didn’t say anything to him (other than “goodnight”!), and he got up first in the morning (meaning fed the cat and locked him out of the bedroom). Luckily I woke feeling a bit less fatalistic. Then we went to breakfast at our favorite diner-type breakfast spot, and the conversation turned to the plot of my current WIP. (You might recall that’s the one he ripped to shreds about a year ago, the one I’ve been struggling to get back on track.)
I told him about some changes I’ve made in his ideas, and we talked them out. We looked at different angles to the story, and I explained why I decided to make the changes. I had so much fun! When we left, I was re-energized and ready to tackle the project again.
I know I’ll get discouraged again. I’m sure I’ll have many more long days at work when I come home too tired to do more than fall into bed, days when I think about chucking it all. But I hope I can remember those words from Eloisa James. I hope I can slow down for a few minutes and think about why I started writing--to tell a story. I hope I can remember again how she inspired me. It might take me another five years to finish this blasted book, but as long as I keep at it, a little every day, someday I’ll get there.
Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love—or at least she writes them in her head. Eventually they make it onto a book form. To learn more, go to LeahStJames.com.