Make It a Habit

However you like to write–pen and paper, laptop, typewriter–make sure you write every day. Sometimes it’s terrible. Sometimes it’s golden. Just make sure it gets done.

Don’t worry about quality, especially when you’re starting out and it’s the first draft. That draft is always terrible, but it’s very important.

I like to say the first draft is the skeleton-when you get the general gist of the story down on paper. Subsequent drafts are when you add the muscles, skin, and features–to make it pretty.

And don’t worry about the beginning. That always changes as you write and get to know your story and your characters. What you think about one character can change drastically by the time you type ‘The End’ on the final page.

I like for my characters to surprise me so I leave plenty of wiggle room in my outlines to allow for surprises.

In the ‘Guinness the Therapy Dog’ series, Lucy (his older sister) surprised me by insisting on being in the books. She’s a great dog so I let her assert herself-which is new for her. The real Lucy is so emotionally damaged by abuse that she is afraid of everything. To have her stand her ground is something wonderful to see.

I hear people say all the time “I would never write a book”. I say, “Sure, you can!” There’s a story in everyone and I think if you sat down at whatever writing implement you choose, you can get the story down on paper. You may not like the result, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. You wrote a book!

Take your passion or your favorite family story, and flesh it out. Write every day. Make it something you miss if it’s not done. If you decide you hate to write, finish your story and never do it again.

At least you’ll have one book that you wrote and you won’t have to wonder if it’s in you ever again.

Take on the challenge! Sonja

The Writing Process

Are you a planner or a pantser?

What’s a pantser, you ask? It’s the writer who can tell a good story without planning it out first. It’s not me. I tried to write a story ‘by the seat of my pants’ and it was horrible!

My stories are much better if I outline them first. I don’t outline them to death because I want the characters to be able to lead me and surprise me. But, I need to know where they are heading or else my stories tend to wander.

I like to outline on paper, usually outside, with some distractions around me. Then I go to my computer and start writing with the outline nearby. I still need some distractions while I write the first draft; I think it’s probably from my years as a news producer. I wrote for hours in the newsroom with scanners blaring and beeping, reporters coming and going; and lots of interruptions. During successive edits (and there are many) I like quiet, especially during the final edit. I like to focus all my attention on the story and try to find mistakes while around me it is quiet and still.

How many edits does a story go through? At least three. That’s why I like my computer. I save the story as a fresh draft and then start editing. I find that sometimes I like the previous draft and need to be able to go back to it. If I’m editing on that draft, oftentimes what I wrote previously is gone.

Don’t be afraid to write the first draft! It’s always unfit for reading. But it’s much easier to edit than create afresh. More on this in another post!

Just start! Sonja