This week I’m happy to share a guest post from author and publisher Robin Tidwell. I first met Robin on opening day of All On The Same Page Bookstore, a store she and her husband owned and ran for about two years. Robin and I started a small writer’s group out of the bookstore so we have frequently shared our thoughts on writing and the industry. Robin has published three books of Dystopian women’s fiction and a helpful guide on Kindle called So You Wrote a Book: Now What? After the store closed, she started a publishing company called Rocking Horse Publishing. RHP has published over 30 books to date, including my own Dickinstein. I asked Robin to share something today about her own writing process…
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My so-called writing process starts with procrastination. A lot of it. I can come up with all kinds of things to do in order to avoid putting pen to paper. So to speak. I use a computer, after all, but some expressions never die.
After I procrastinate for a while (could be hours, or days, or even weeks, depending on the size and scope of the project; there are no set rules here), I tell myself—aloud, ‘cause that’s the best way to get my attention—that I need to write such-and-such.
But first I need coffee. NOW I’m ready!
So I sip and sit and stare at a blank Word doc. My brain seems like it’s numb, nothing in there except random song lyrics (I’ve been stuck on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album for three days now) and bits and pieces of vague plans that may or may not come to fruition . . . in the next few months.
Next step: turn my phone on silent and vow to resist the urge to keep glancing at it. Make a bathroom run. Notice the sad puppy (who’s perfectly content sleeping in the sun) and decide maybe I should play with her first.
Back to my desk for more thumb-twiddling, ideas beginning to germinate. Snack time!
Okay, I can’t write and snack at the same time, it gets messy—so I pause to read the news, check email, and glance at a few other things online. And we all know what that means . . . Wait—what was that?
YES! That’s it! Fingers on keyboard. Let the madness commence.
Alright, that was a little dramatic, yes? But you all know what I mean. Yeah.
But when I say “madness,” that’s exactly it—ask my family. When I get going, I REALLY get going. That’s why my average time to write a full-length novel is about eight weeks. Too bad I can’t churn one out every two months, but here’s the thing: I need recovery time. I know authors who write a novel, put it away, bring it back out a few months later, and revise. Nah, I don’t have the patience for that. When I’m done, I’m done. I self-edit and revise as I go; if it’s not “perfect,” I don’t move on to the next scene.
However, I do stop now and then. I mean, I slapped out this blog post in about ten minutes, until I got to this point. You know, of course, that a lot of writing isn’t actually writing—it’s staring at the screen until the next words are ready to be typed. It took me a solid year to train my family NOT to interrupt during this part. You know, they’d step into the office, see that I’m not REALLY writing anything, and have umpteen questions. Now, and it involves a lot of tough love, if they see me at my desk, they turn and leave. Silently.
If you’re a writer, you’ll read a lot of advice about when and how to write, edit, revise, recover, etc. You can certainly read it all, and digest it, but please, please don’t take it all to heart. You can be a “real” writer and follow your own path, do it your way, have it your way.
And there it is: Meat Loaf has now been replaced with the Burger King jingle from the 70s. Sigh.