Time to get organized. How to write novellas while raising a family.

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Blogging is fun.  I don’t make any money off it so I don’t take it seriously.  I just enjoy sharing and chatting via blogging about homemaking advice, thoughts on sobriety, and tips on being frugal and sustainable.

Then there’s the book writing.  I’ve covered every angle of the homemaking and self-help so now I’ve cornered myself into the fiction.  I can no longer avoid it.  I must sit down and start pecking away at my laptop keyboard.  I need to start writing out the story ideas, the chapter outlines, diagraming the drama, creating the emotional webs of each character, building the intensity, and trying to have fun all the while.

My blog gets plenty of attention from me and therefore it has grown.  My homemaking books have given birth to many more and therefore they are getting popular.  My fiction has only had a moment of attention more than a year ago and as such has died.  I adore my novellas, I think they are delightful but I can’t even give them away free!

How do I fix this?  I get to work.  Focus, focus, focus.  Write like the wind, write fast and hard, fast and without too much thinking.  I find that the trick to writing fiction for me is to get an idea, see it play out like a movie in my mind, maybe I write it out in a paragraph and then write out the chapters and outline the story.  I have an idea of what the characters will be like and how the story will end.  Then I sit down and write quickly and without thought because thought means thinking about how this story probably sucks and the characters are boring, the plot is weak, this book will never interest anyone, blah, blah, blah.

I learned this lesson recently.  I had a book that I was having edited.  I thought it was too silly and I almost called my editor to cancel the work.  I was about to trash it.  Before I could act on this she sent an email with the finished book and a note saying that she really enjoyed this book,  that it had great passages and was funny.  I was so surprised.  I thought she had taken so long editing because she couldn’t stand it and didn’t have the heart to say so.

It’s best not to judge your own work.

So, let’s get to work!  Put on some good music.  I rearrange my shuffle on Pandora so I have “theme” music to go with the story I’m writing.  You know, country love songs for a country love story.  I used a lot of Rascal Flats and Lady Antebellum for A Farmer’s Widow.  I brew coffee, the smell and sounds of percolating coffee gets me going.  I sit at my desk that I have set in the best spot in the house.  It’s in my dining room with all the sun and near the kitchen where all the percolating and baking is happening.  I have a very comfy chair for long sitting times and I have all the books I use for learning the craft, looking up words, my Master List for Writers to get ideas on words and new ways to expressing emotions and describing scenes.  I can overuse words at times.  I have decorated my desk as I would at the office, all my tools and photos, positive sayings, funny pictures, mission statements.  This is my power seat.

I write in the morning when I’m fresh and my mind isn’t over crowded with the day.

I only take a few hours to write down my ideas for a story.  I write it like I’m going to sell the idea.  I then break it down into chapters.  I even choose all the names.  I get names from movies, neighbors, and cartoons.  I get ideas from stories I hear or a moment at the park. Quite frequently I think things up on the tread climber.  Walking is a great way to rustle up ideas.  Go out on the road or in the forest and take long walks, clear the mind and let the stories come.

As I write the book the characters change, the chapters change, the whole story may change as I get to know my people and delve deep within the drama.  I see it in my mind like a movie complete with my theme music.

I then finish and take some time before I go back.  I may even start on another book before I go back and reread and start the editing process.  I try to stay neutral.  I may think the book is ridiculous by the end and others may love it.  Every time I put a book out there it’s a risk to my self-confidence and ego.

Put it out anyway.  Many great books were hated by their authors.

Have fun.  Why write if you aren’t having fun?  Ask yourself why you’re writing?  Do you want to be the next Hemingway, a great classic writer remembered to the end of time, or have every book made into a movie like Nicholas Sparks?  Do you want lots of money? Fame? Success in some form?  And what form?  Then ask yourself what kind of books do you want to put out there?  Helpful books to guide people into a better life?  Fantasy? Wholesome? Not so wholesome?  How do you see yourself as a writer?  What kind of writer do you want to be and how do you want people to see you?  Do you need a pen name or want to use your real name?  You can do both.  You may write clean fiction under your real name and more risky fiction under a pen so you can let go under your disguise.

I have a pen name for my fiction simply because I have all my self-help, sobriety, and homemaking and frugal books under my real name.  Who would take me seriously as a fictional writer too?  I didn’t even know that I could pull it off at first to be honest…not sure even today.  So, I separate out that world with a fun and fancy pen name.  I’m not writing anything nasty and wild or trying to hide.  Just giving myself two separate files so to speak.

Create yourself, create a desk or space, become the writer you dream of.  Brew some tea or coffee and get going.

As a mother, I can’t write all day.  Thank God.  I do it in the morning and then I move on from the desk.  I clock out.  I may think about my little starlets and their conundrums while I vacuum and wash dishes, I may think up a twist in the plot as I color with Sammy in his dinosaur coloring book…but I stop click-clacking on the laptop late morning.  I get on the tread climber, clean the house, cook yummy food, holler at the kids, nag the spouse.  I play a lot now too.  Exercise and playing with the boys really stimulates my imagination.  It keeps it flowing too.  It’s amazing what you can come up with while doing artwork, even 5-year-old crafts.  Cartoons give me great ideas.

As a stay at home parent of youngsters and a writer building her career, I have to keep things in balance.  I can’t lock myself away to finish that great novel.  Some writers travel or go to museums for inspiration.  I rearrange my living room and organize the boy’s room.  I don’t have the bank account for the rich taste of attending symphonies or mingling with the writer’s groups, going on writers retreats and taking workshops.  I buy books off Amazon like Save The Cat to learn better story telling skills.  I find that learning how to write movie scripts is improving my novel writing.  I have to get clever like that.  I go to a movie now and then to be recharged.  This is my reality of a new writer who is a housewife on a tiny budget.

Despite the lack of funding and workshops, I think that I’m getting better every day with my frugal and homemade recipe for learning the art and honing my skills.

 

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