Friday, 22 June 2018

June Round Robin: Keep Writing


Why do you write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?

This month’s round robin particularly appealed to me because experiencing difficult spells in my writing is something that I unfortunately seem to go through quite often.

Typing ‘The End’ on that first draft is one of the most exhilarating moments I have experienced as a writer. The sheer relief of having ‘stuck to it’ and brought my project to completion is incredible, even if it is still a very rough version at this stage. I am not even mentioning having the book accepted for publication, getting through the various rounds of edits, and of course seeing the book published and reading reviews.

Before reaching that wonderful stage however, there are many dark moments. Moments of doubt, loss of belief in the story and my skill as writer, and worst of all for me, the broken connection with the characters who suddenly stop ‘talking’ to me.

I love writing. It’s all I always wanted to do. I think about my story when I am driving, cooking, walking, ironing, washing my hair or drinking a cup of coffee; I dream about my hero (I know, it sounds silly and a little pathetic). I agonise about the twists and turns of my plot and subplots. I have conversations with my characters, laugh at their jokes, shake my head at their stupidity, or marvel at their ingenuity. I speak lines of dialogue aloud in different voices even when my children look at me in a funny way. When you do all that, you just don’t let those dark and difficult times defeat you. You don’t give up. You get on with it.

I find that when things get really tough, it’s usually because I cannot ‘hear’ my characters any longer, or because I got lost in an over-complicated plot. The best strategy for me then is to go back to the very beginning of the story, in order to add – or delete – layers and details, rekindle that precious connection with my characters, get the spark and the fun in writing again. 

There are many inspirational quotes from writers about dealing with writer’s block, self-doubt and dark and difficult moments, but I particularly like the ones below by JK Rowling.

“I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself."

“What you write becomes who you are… So make sure you love what you write!”

Having fun and writing what you love is crucial, even if it means writing in a different genre or switching to short stories instead of writing a novel. A group of author friends and I recently released an anthology of feel-good and heart-warming short stories set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge (loosely based on the real town Hebden Bridge) in a bid to forget about the usual pressures and find 'the fun in writing again.' Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings was released in May, and has since become a bestseller.


I may lose faith at times, and put a story aside for a few weeks or months, or go back to the beginning several times. I may even abandon a project for several years. But ultimately I cannot imagine my life without writing. 

Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings is available for only £0.99 as an ebook and £7.99 in paperback  here.
Please click on the links below to read what these authors have to say about the topic!

 




24 comments:

  1. Great post, Marie. I can totally identify with losing touch with your characters. Sometimes they want to be someone else, and not the person I had imagined! I hope your characters are behaving at the moment. All the best with your writing!

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  2. Excellent post, Marie. I'm sure we can all relate to the moments (hours?) of doubt, and the loss of connection with characters. I'm at the point where I think 'This story is never going to work' - but then I remember all the times I've thought that with other stories. Maybe that's the only thing which stops me from deleting the whole thing!

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    1. Isn't it terrible when you start doubting your story like that? I know it sounds silly but what I sometimes do is to start typing with my eyes closed (I was trained as a typist so I can do it really quickly) to express my characters' thoughts or feelings. I don't really know why, but it does help me get more out of them! Thank you for visiting, and good luck with your story. I hope you overcome your doubts.

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  3. Related to all the doubts voiced in your post, Marie. Writing has its difficult moments.

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    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Rhobin. Writing is indeed difficult, and much of what I write ends up being deleted or edited, but what a wonderful feeling we have when things go well...

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  4. I go back and revise when I get too stuck as well. I even did that at the beginning of the month because I wasn't satisfied with the way things were going. It really helped me target what was wrong and where the story needed to go so I could push forward.

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Jean. Going back to the beginning really helps me, as I have more idea about the characters and their motives. Good luck with your writing!

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  5. Well, Helena, they are, but I am not! I have gone back to the beginning of my Lakes novel yesterday, and I am changing a few things. I have more hindsight into the characters now so I can see a bit better where I am going. Thank you for visiting, and see you next week!

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  6. great post Marie. I think we all acknowledge these difficult times. It's always a relief to hear you're not alone.
    By the way, I loved Miss Moonshine, hopefully there will be more stories from her emporium

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    1. Thank you very much, Carol! I am delighted you liked Miss M. I think we are all very much hoping to be able to get together again for more stories.

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  7. I understand your frustration with writing, but I think you've found the secret to getting back on track. Keep writing!
    JQ Rose

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    1. I think that you are perfectly correct, JQ. To keep writing is the only way! Thanks for visiting, and I hope you are having a marvellous time in the UK!

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  8. "The best strategy for me then is to go back to the very beginning of the story, in order to add – or delete – layers and details, rekindle that precious connection with my characters, get the spark and the fun in writing again."
    Yes! I reckon I read and edit the beginning of a book hundreds of times before I finish it.
    :)
    Bob

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    1. And this is what I am doing right now, again, Bob! I don't know how many times I do this, but it really helps me. Thank you for visiting!

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  9. Don't think dreaming about your hero is pathetic at all. I dream about mine all the time. We get to create the man of our dreams - why wouldn't we want to dream about him?

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    1. Very true! Sometimes people ask me which is my favourite of the different heroes in my stories, and I absolutely can't choose! They are all different, but all in their own way the 'man of my dreams' as you say. Thank you very much for visiting!

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  10. Hi Marie, Everyone else has said it, too, I share all those moments of doubt. I'm a bit of a pantster although writing serials for PF has disciplined me into producing a synopsis, for PF. On the other hand my current novel, a rights of passage Scottish regency, is snaking its way through the swamp that should be a plot...…………………..

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    1. I am total pantser too, Anne! And even if I tried to write a synopsis before the book was finished, I would still steer away from it. Good luck with your current novel.

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  11. Some of my coolest scenes have been from dreams. Matter of fact, the final scene in The Whispering House was from a dream. I was visiting my mother, and the scary creatures in that novel followed me up (in my subconscious, of course). We had it out in my dream. I won, obviously. LOL

    I think, if you're dreaming about your hero, he must be pretty compelling. :)

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    1. I agree, Marci. Images and feelings from a dream can leave a powerful trace in our subconscious. Thank you for visiting!

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  12. This is why we need our Round Robin! Marie has stated all the facts that writers feel and suffer from, whether we like to admit it or not. Hearing that others share my problems too makes me feel normal! I am looking forward to reading Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings. It's on my TBR list.

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    1. It is so important indeed to talk with other writers, Victoria. I am so lucky to have a wonderful group of author friends. We may not meet very often but it is great to be able to talk about the difficult times.

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  13. Yes, I admit that it's impossible to choose which of my heroes is my favorite. There's the first one, he's special because he was my first published book. Then there are the others, some of whom first appeared in my dreams, some of whom popped into my head when I saw a picture. Once I even had writer's block, and put a story away, not sure of how to continue. Then I had a dream in which the hero told me I was having trouble because I was using the wrong hero. It had to be him! Then he smiled and showed me fangs. I told him I don't write vampire romance. He told me I'd better. That became a two-book saga of Mayan vampires. Sigh. Sometimes they can be so darned pushy, these characters who live in our heads!

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    1. I couldn't choose between my heroes either, Fiona. Your story about how your Mayan vampires came to be made me smile! How lucky you were to have the 'visit' from your character! Thank you for visiting.

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