Elizabeth: Taking a Moment for Joy and Gratitude

That headlong rush toward the end of the year, which seemed so far away back in January, is well underway.  The turkey hasn’t even been carved yet, but I’ve already seen folks posting that they have finished their Christmas shopping.  My house is still boasting its fall decorations, though I will admit I put the outdoor winter decorations up on Saturday.  Normally, decorations don’t go up until the turkey is in the oven, but this year I made an exception since rain was in the forecast.  I felt very pleased with my decision when I heard rain pelting the windows this afternoon.  Glad I decided to skip washing the car too. 🙂

Whatever you may or may not be celebrating, it’s always nice to take a moment to pause for a bit of gratitude.

  • I’m grateful to be a part of a great community of writers and to have the chance to reach out to other writers via this blog; it’s something that has certainly made me joyful.
  • I’m grateful for my recent day job promotion, which came with a fancy new title and will give me the opportunity to do some truly meaningful work; it’s something that makes me joyful (and maybe a little apprehensive).
  • Mostly, I’m grateful for family and friends who, when they don’t drive me crazy, make me joyful indeed.

So, what’s on your gratitude list?

Nancy: Because Every Story Is a Special Snowflake

Writers love to talk about writing processes. We’re pantsers, or plotters, or ultra-plotters. We follow the hero’s journey, or Lisa Cron’s story genius method, or the snowflake method (no, seriously!), or one of a thousand either guru-inspired approaches. We write chronologically. Or out of order. Or by writing all the turning points first and filling in the interstitial spaces after that. We swear by writing every day, or binge-write a few times a week or a month.

By the time we’ve spent a few years on this journey and gotten a few completed stories under our belts, most of us have discovered our own process, our unique mix story theory and project organization and time management that ultimately results in a book. And once we understand our own approach, we learn to rely on it to get us through the next story deadline, and the one after that, and…you get the idea. And that can be a wonderful thing. It’s a well-worn path that becomes a shortcut to our creativity. An annotated roadmap to get us from nascent idea rattling around inside our bizarre writer brains to full-fledged story ready to go out into the world. A comforting guide to get us through the rough spots.

Until it stops working.

While every book requires tweaks and adjustments to our approach, every now and then there’s a book that so special (yes, that’s a euphemism for PITA) that we have to throw our trusty process right out the window. And so that’s where I find myself today, with the next installment in the Harrow’s Finest Five series, Harry and Adelia’s love story.

If this ever happens to you in your creative journey–and odds are, it will–it’s important to remember it’s normal, it’s surmountable, and it’s probably even good for you. After all, what good is creativity if it’s easy and stagnant and follows that same stupid rut-filled path every time, anyway? And in case you do ever hit that wall, I’ll tell you the same thing my wise writing friends have been telling me: Continue reading

Elizabeth: There’s No Comparison

ComparisonQuote_Blog2

I came across this old post the other day and thought it was both a timely reminder and a message worth re-sharing.

It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. I’ll be heading off to RWA nationals soon and, although I’ll undoubtedly come back with a lot of useful information and a renewed commitment to my writing, it’s very likely that I’ll also come back with thoughts of “I’ll never write as many books as Author X” and “I’m not nearly as far along in my writing career as Author Y.”   It doesn’t help when I see notes from ghost-writer friends about their 10,000 word days or how they drafted out a book in a week.  Though I intellectually know better, and it tends to take the shine off my own progress, it is regrettably easy to do.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Continue reading

Nancy: Creativity Is Hard Work

Me, every writing day. Often, I am pushing the same damn boulder I’ve been pushing for weeks or months.

Last week, I had a conversation with a very creative person in a field other than writing. (Yes, it turns out there are creatives in the world who are not writers! I, too, was surprised.) We were discussing “living the dream.” Which is, apparently, what I, as a full-time writer, am doing. My creative friend, still working the day job, is not. And he had thoughts about that.

Actually, he has dreams of his own, which are wonderful things! He also has some misconceptions about what my day-to-day life of dream-living entails.

For those of you who have not met me IRL, I should explain that I have no poker face. Ergo, I could not hide my shock, dismay, and perhaps even amusement at his idea of my life. And while I have my own dreams of spending my writing days frolicking with unicorns and sliding down rainbows while the Best Story Ever Written magically appears on my computer screen, I’ve only had two, maybe three days tops, when unicorns have appeared. And those might or might not have involved whisky. That is to say, this dream gig is hard. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Pausing for a Moment

Watching the waves rolll in at Venice Beach, CA

Every now and then it’s nice to step back for a moment and just take time to relax, recharge, and breathe.  I did that very thing yesterday at the end of a long day of business meetings.

Lucky for me, the meetings were held in Marina Del Rey, though judging from our windowless hotel conference room tucked away in the basement, we could have been on the moon for all we would have known. Continue reading

Michaeline: Caturday and Puzzle Answers

Well, last week was a bust as far as my priming experiment. I provided a word search Saturday with special words meant to prompt my subconscious into a writing mood . . . but, you know. It was busy. I was tired. I don’t have a story that urgently needs to get written down. And, on the happy side, my daughter and son-in-law are visiting! I’d rather have a nice dinner and chat with them instead of holing away and writing.

So, today, I give you the answers Continue reading

Nancy: Post-Book Blues

A few weeks ago, I finished the complete draft of my Victorian romance that will come out this fall. It’s a bit more than a first draft, having already been through first-round revisions along the way, but it was “the end for now,” and my coach asked me what I was doing to celebrate. Around the same time, I was answering a series of interview questions, and one of them was, “How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?”

I didn’t have an answer for either of them.

The truth is, I don’t celebrate the end of a stage of the creative process so much as mourn it. And curling up in a blanket on the sofa, rewatching episodes of Dead to Me and Santa Clarita Diet, staring at the pile of TBR books I’ve been so anxious to read but now don’t have the energy to tackle, probably isn’t the answer they want to hear.

Taking Comfort in Community

As it turns out, the post-creativity slump isn’t all that unusual. When interviewed for an article on the Fast Company website, film writer/director Jeffery Lando talked about having post-movie depression. He captured one of the elements of my own creative journey. Continue reading