I’ve been a romance writer for years—well, if I were honest it’s been really more than a decade—so I can honestly say that getting past the ‘want-to’ write feelings and on to the ‘doing-it’ stage is a hard one. It’s actually something I’ve struggled with on and off for years. I have the drive, the feelings of wanting to write, the actual need to write to get the characters’ story told…but the doing it stage is the hardest one for me. Something always comes up, always comes first. Even though you might need the creative outlet, or maybe even the money that sale might bring, it’s often hard to sit in the seat and get the words on paper.
Here lately I’ve been struggling with the quitting-writing-to-deal-with-other-things stage too. Something I thought I’d concurred but obviously haven’t since I tend to make excuses for continuing writing and just putting off the household/life involved chores. Which just goes to show you that there’s definitely a fine balance in the doing it stage…and if you ever achieve it I’d say you’re a genius.
But if you’re like me and struggle with the balance, I can tell you here are some tips I’ve accumulated over the years that are finally settling in and working a bit.
Work through distractions – This is often hard, but as with little babies learning to sleep, if you require quiet all the time, you won’t ever get anything done. So learn to keep typing through the interruptions. I tend to zone out of other things that are going on around me. I have also learned it’s often easier to sneak a short 30 minute writing time in with the kids around and busy playing than it is to try to block off a larger amount of time. It might take longer to finish a story, but it will get done.
Get it down and revise later – Turning off that internal editor is so hard. Especially for those who want it perfect to begin with…but as a certain well, known and highly productive writer (yep, talking about Nora) has said often, ‘you can’t edit a blank page.’ So if you can write through the need to go back and re-read the chapter ten times, you might finish sooner than later. This is a step I know doesn’t work for everyone, but if you can turn it off productivity will more than make up for the feelings of needing to make it perfect. You’ll have the feeling of accomplishment on your side. And you might just find you don’t need to edit that much anyway. The more you write the better the writing will become.
Make time for life – I always thought you can’t do both—write and have a life. By that I mean, you often give up one to do the other. I tended to get absorbed in writing and exclude the house or other things until I took a break. Then it would bug me that I’d done that and I’d exclude writing to get the other done. Most recently, I’ve found I can do both. Throw in that load of laundry on a break, put the dishes in the dishwasher, etc. I’ve found that short break (writing in 30 minute to 1 hour intervals) helps fuel the creativity more. That doesn’t mean I don’t get to going sometimes and lose track and wow, two hours have passed before I realize I might need to get up, but it does mean I try to get up when I am at a breaking point and do something that keeps the house on track. I’ve found if I do then more gets done on both fronts.
Enjoy the writing – Sometimes you hear authors—and maybe you feel it yourself—say they have a love/hate relationship with writing. It has a hold on them and won’t let go. Then you hear authors say they have the best job ever…but either way, you have to enjoy the writing. There was a time after my first book was published that wasn’t so for me. I didn’t enjoy the writing because of the fear of the after process. Who wanted to be told to revise the work they’d sweated over for nearly a year? Then I realized no matter what the end process (and yes, it took me a long time to realize this), I enjoyed the journey. It might have been hard to let go of the characters and change them to what someone else wanted, but the ultimate feeling of enjoyment/fulfillment was already there and that couldn’t be taken away by the tweaks that ultimately made the story better. Though I was certainly grudging to admit that to anyone!
I’m not sure if any of these tips will work for you, but advice is something you should always take then keep what works and throw the rest over your shoulder. So I hope you get something that does help you even if it is in a small way.
I’d also recommend reading any of these wonderful books on writing from authors who’ve been where you are at some point in their careers. The tidbits you can accumulate will only help make you a better writer. Here are some of my favorites:
Any one of these books from Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance to Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Writing Romance to Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie Wagner will help you figure out where to begin and possibly give you insight that will help you find the balance you’re looking for in your career.