Monday, May 6, 2013

Grit, Guts and Gumption

I've read several posts on this topic, and it may be quite familiar to many writers, but this time, it comes from my heart and I had to share my experience with it.

As much as I love being a writer, it's hard, very hard. When I first started writing as an adult about ten years ago, the thrill was intense. I had lofty dreams of publishing contracts, best-selling novels, and many adoring fans. Actually, not so sure about the adoring fans part. With it came lots of angst, insecurity, and disillusionment. But I loved every minute of the story. The words flowed endlessly. I had no idea what it was like to experience writer's block.

Jump forward ten years. I've self-published several books and have signed a few publishing contracts with two of my books out already. The angst hasn't gone away - it's magnified. But, sadly, the thrill has died somewhat. I won't say completely, but I would say it's tempered. I have these moments when the muse takes over and the words flow freely, but it rarely lasts through a whole book. Nanowrimo helps immensely but I can't just write one book a year. In fact, I love writing so much that I'm miserable if I don't have a project to work on. Crazy contradictions.

One thing I know is that writing takes much courage, determination, self-discipline, and stickability. You have to write through the dry patches.

For me the hardest part of a book is sometimes the middle, but most of the time, the beginning. I absolutely despise coming up with a new book idea. Ideas pop into my head, but I'm so unsure of them. Will they work? Will I keep inspired with the idea? Will it sell?

When I finished "Three Tiers for Win," I couldn't come up with a new idea. I started a chapter in two book ideas but they didn't work. The frustration was immense. What if I never came up with a decent idea ever again? What if I'd lost my ability to write? Oh dear, crazy but familiar feelings.

Finally I came up with an idea but have left it to work on a sequel to "Dragonfly Moments" instead. The thing that inspired me was my editor suggesting I write Tim's story. Her suggestion gave me the motivation to stick to this book. The first 10 000 words have been like wading through syrup. It hasn't been easy. Yesterday, I felt like giving up on the story - not the characters. But I keep on writing, despite the pain, despite the doubts, and because it's my work.

Not every day is the same. Some days are easy, some days are hard, others are inbetween. Some days you think you wrote junk but when you read it the next day, you love it. Other days you think you've written your best but when you read it the next day, it stinks. The fickle moods of a writer. Sigh ....

So, like any other job or career, we have to stick to it through the hard times and the easy ones.

Today I had a breakthrough with my book. Now I can see a way forward with my characters.

I'm a pantster. That's another difficult thing. I start a book with a very general idea of where it's going, but don't plan the details. Every time I've planned a book in detail beforehand, all the inspiration for it has fled. It's like the thrill of the unknown has been taken away. I love not knowing how it's going to pan out. Of course, I always aim for a HEA, but I never know exactly how it's going to happen. As much as this is my only way to write, it causes problems. I reached a spot in my WIP where I could see no way forward. The story seemed too simple with too little conflict and sparks. Now if I'd planned it, that wouldn't have happened. Tell my right brain that. Yesterday, I stared at the screen but couldn't write. So, I switched off my computer and went to bed. Today, I forced myself to write something, anything. After a while, the ideas started to flow. I had to leave my work to prepare supper but as I worked in the kitchen, more ideas came. I've climbed over the hill into a valley of ease. I think the muse is going to be good to me for a while. The grit and gumption paid off at last.

As the very well-used and familiar phrase goes - apply butt to chair. That's the best way to become and to stay a writer. And never give up.

To top it, I found the most delightful review of "Wedding Gown Girl" on Amazon today. These words touched me:

This is definitely one story that this author uses her magic in a wonderfully written story. The characters were all colorful and this story only produces a "gentle and tender romance that touches the heart with its' honesty." Be ready for a good read. Would I recommend this read? Yes!


  1. A great post, Kathy! I also don't plan my books in great detail. I have a general idea of where the story is going but I like having the freedom to go off on a tangent if I feel like it. That can cause problems!

  2. There is no one as confident AND insecure as a writer. As you said, the work is hard, but it's awesome. Thanks for sharing.