It’s kind of hard to put into words how I feel about the third book in the Mystic Series. Last year, while I was writing the book, it seemed like I would never finish it.
There were two reasons for that:
One: I was simultaneously writing another paranormal romance – Lachlan’s Curse (which I did complete early 2014 but that’s a whole other blog post).
Two: the book ended up longer than my target goal of 83,000 – 85,000 words. In fact, the word count after the last round of publisher edits was @92,000 words.
Because I am a die hard plotter, in my mind, this shouldn’t have happened. Obviously I took a wrong turn in Albuquerque or something.
Why so long?
Well, the short answer: that’s how long the story is. For those of you following this series (and I thank you very much!) this is Devlin Ward’s book.
Devlin is a virginal satyr who has a boatload of childhood drama to deal with before he can obtain his happily every after. Lucky for him, his heroine, Mary (aka Ma’at) is more than ready to take accept the challenge.
And believe me, it was a challenge for me too. Even though I know this world well it didn’t make writing their story any easier. When I realized that the first draft would clock in around 95,000 words, I had a choice to make – stop writing and figure out what was wrong or keep writing because maybe nothing was wrong.
While that sounds incredibly insane, I know from first hand experience that I can be my own worst enemy (hello, Doubt Monster).
In the end, I decided to keep writing and see what would happen because I’m crazy like that. I figured, why not? I can always delete stuff later (which I did).
This past weekend, I read the book again after a final round of edits. And guess what? The length felt just right for Devlin and Mary.
So is there a moral to this blog post? Yes!
Don’t fear the delete key. And don’t be afraid to just see what’s going to happen next.
Yesterday I guest blogged over at Jill Archer’s siteabout our favorite buddy – the Doubt Monster. Fellow CT RWA members may recognize some of this information because it was taken from a presentation I did last March. If you missed it, here’s your chance to catch up!
Many creative types proclaim that they have a Muse – a benevolent entity that encourages the artist and nourishes the soul, allowing magical prose to flow from his or her fingertips like golden honey down a river of . . . blah, blah, flowery words, blah, blah.
Me and a Muse? No such luck. Instead, I have a Doubt Monster. In fact, if I ever had a Muse, I’m pretty sure the Doubt Monster ate her a long time ago.
What is a Doubt Monster? Let me introduce you.
The Doubt Monster is that nagging feeling while writing that your prose is terrible, your plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it. Definition courtesy of Jen Moncuse.
In my case, the greedy Doubt Monster messes with my confidence and rears his ugly head (yes, I believe it’s a male – no clue why, honest) at various times in the writing process. Sometimes, he nags me constantly like my brain has been Rick-rolled by an earworm (you know, an irritating song that repeats in your head over and over).
What? That never happens to you? Never mind, then.
Other times, he appears sporadically. If I’m lucky, he won’t show up until I’m almost done with the first draft.
So what attracts the Doubt Monster? (Besides Rick Astley lyrics)
In my experience, lack of certainty creates openings for the sneaky cretin. Observe:
If your self-confidence is shot. Hello, Doubt Monster.
If you received a rejection letter. Hello, Doubt Monster.
If you received a bad contest score or one star review. Hello, Doubt Monster.
If you receive an awesome five star review. Hello , Doubt Monster. (Yes, success can also freak you out with an – “OMG, how will I ever top this story? I will never write anything good again” – moment.
If your family doubts you. Say it with me – Hello, Doubt Monster!
If you’re like me, and you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop or you just expect that what you’re working on will suck at some point – yeah, yeah, Hello, #@!# Doubt Monster!
And the Doubt Monster doesn’t prey exclusively on unpublished writers. Once you’re published, he has even more confidence busting fodder to torment you with! Even multi-published, NY Times, award winning authors battle the beast.
So how do you combat this annoying creativity killer?
Don’t Feed the Monster!
1. As with any problem, identification is the key.Admit you have a problem. And take it seriously. Yup, it’s that simple. Consider the possibility that you’re staring at a blank page because you’re suffering from self-doubt. If you’re lazy, sorry. Can’t help you with that one. Maybe consider not being a writer, ‘cause, you know, writing requires self-discipline and actual work. Just throwing that out there!
2. When you are in “the creative mind” – anything should be possible and telling yourself that your ideas are dumb or won’t work is not helpful. Really. Sit back and play out those ideas to their logical conclusion. Do they work? Do you like it? Does it move the plot along? Even if it doesn’t – write it down. You know the old adage – you can’t edit a blank page!
4. Confront your Doubt Monster and root him out. What stage of writing are you in? Are you allowing your inner editor to stomp on your creative process? Do you fear imminent arrest by the Grammar Police? If yes, remember you’re not in English class anymore. You don’t have to have perfect sentences or perfect grammar while you’re drafting your story. First draft = word vomit! And that is fine!!
5. Are you worried about what everyone else will think? At this stage in writing, do not think about your critique group, readers, the marketplace or much of anything else real world related. And, seriously, who cares what anyone else thinks?
6. Tell old Doubty to shut it. Don’t feel guilty about it. You can’t hurt his feelings. See # 4.
7. Do not stop writing. Ever. That is the worst thing you can do. If you are truly stuck, work on something else for a little bit. Take a walk, read, go the movies, clean your closet. Whatever floats your boat.
Who’s seen Men In Black 3? There is a great scene in the movie where J &K are stuck trying to figure out the enemy’s next move. Agent K says – “let’s have pie.” Meaning, they will eat a piece of pie and discuss anything but the case. Believe it or not, this really does work (well, you don’t have to have pie). Sometimes, in order to solve a problem, you have to let your subconscious work it out. Doing an alternate activity and letting your mind wander can help silence the Doubt Monster.
Which leads me to my next point . . . sometimes you need to listen to the Doubt Monster.
Wait! What?? But you just said –
– Yes, I know. There are times when you should heed the Doubt Monster’s warnings. He or she is not always wrong to make you question your work. One way to test the validity of the DM is to ask a non-writer to read your finished work. I find it helpful to use first readers whenever I complete a draft. They are not writers, but friends who will be honest and read extensively in the genre I write in.
During editing, let the Doubt Monster play all he wants. This is the time to question your plotline, pacing, word choices, and story flow. The DM can be the voice of reason. Think of
it as the same instinct that prevents you from engaging in dangerous activities like jumping off a cliff or leaving your house in nothing but your underwear.
Over time, the more you write the more you’ll find a happy medium. And, I have discovered that some stories are more prone to attacks of the Doubt Monster. Many times, those books turn out to be better stories in the end and that’s a goal even the Doubt Monster can get behind!
If anyone has confidence building techniques, please share!
Please welcome, Gerri Brousseau, a friend and fellow member of the CTRWA, author of A PIRATE’S RANSOM and the newly released ACCORDING TO LEGEND. Take it away, Gerri!
Thank you, Paula, for inviting me to the Scribes today. I’m thrilled to be here and to meet your readers.
PJ: Please tell us about your current release.
Gerri: ACCORDING TO LEGEND is a time-travel story with a prophecy, a quest, a love triangle and a quirky wolf. The premise of the story is according to legend, when the spirit of the tribal princess is born again and she holds the enchanted stone in her hands, the lovers will be reunited … even through time.
PJ: It sounds like a great read! What inspired you to write this book?
Gerri: ACCORDING TO LEGEND came to me one night in a very vivid dream. When I woke up I started to write madly so as not to forget a single detail. The more I wrote, the more the story seemed to pour out of me. Don’t you love it when that happens?
PJ: I do! I had the same experience with HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. What kind of research did you have to do for LEGEND?
Gerri: ACCORDING TO LEGEND takes place up at Kent Falls. Of course, I changed the name of the area and falls in the book. I researched the local tribe and actually spent a lovely afternoon whittling at the central fire pit at the reservation talking to the real Tribal Princess. It was quite a journey and I’m glad I took the time to make it.
PJ: That sounds awesome. I love the research part of being a writer. How do you combat the doubt monster?
Gerri: I must confess that I have had my fair share of bouts with that evil fellow, but I find the best thing to do is to keep writing. I wonder if he will ever leave me alone. Somehow I doubt it, but much to his credit, all his constant complaining causes me to edit and in the long run he makes me a better writer. Still, he’s not my favorite individual.
PJ: Mine either! What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Gerri: I don’t know if it’s all that interesting or that much of a quirk, but I like to read my work aloud. You would be surprised at how quickly you hear your errors when you do this.
PJ: That is so true! I sometimes forget to do that during the revision stage. Thanks for the reminder. If you had to be something other than a writer, what would you be?
Gerri: A chef. Cooking is my second passion in life and I really enjoy creating a meal that gets rave reviews from my family.
PJ: You sound like my husband. He would definitely be a chef in another life. Is there anything you’d like to share with readers that they might not know about you?
Gerri: Let’s see … they already know I’m a retired skydiver, that I’m a new grandmother, and that I have two pugs. But, I wonder if they know that I have played piano since I was 7 years old. It’s been a while now, but they say it’s like riding a bike … you never forget.
PJ: I had no idea! That is so cool. I bet you’d pick it right back up! Thanks so much for being here and sharing your time with us. If anyone has any questions for Gerri, or comments about her books, her writing tips or her pugs, please feel free to do so.
Here’s a short excerpt from ACCORDING TO LEGEND: “According to the legend, the enchantment of the stone was originally activated by the depth of their love. It is said that their love created a very powerful magic. According to legend, the power of the stone would be set in motion once more when the spirit of the Indian Princess was born again and she held the stone in her hand. Then, the spirit of the lovers would awaken and they would be reunited, even through time.” She sighed. “It is believed that only the true Tribal Princess would have the ability to seek out and find the other half of this stone and access its full enchantment.”
For more information on Gerri and her writing, please visit her website at www.gerribrousseau.com and if you would like to read ACCORDING TO LEGEND, it’s available at Amazon for Kindle.
Happy Friday everyone. Casey here. If you have a moment, please stop by my blog. I’m hosting another Goodreads giveaway to celebrate the paperback release of The Undead Space Initiative.
In case you hadn’t yet heard the news, Mystic Storm will be published in 2013. And while this is my third published novel, I still feel like a giant imposter.
Like someone is going to single me out and yell – “Fake! Fraud! She’s not a real writer!”
I know that sounds totally ridiculous but I know I’m not the only one who sometimes feels this way. I have heard an established NY Times bestselling author admit to having the same feeling – that no matter how many novels you write and sell that this one might be your last.
That you will never, ever write anything “good” again. Your career will be over!! You’ll be a “has been”, the equivalent of a dried up old spinster.
Eek! What’s a writer to do? Well, for starters, it’s time for a reality check.
By the power invested in me I say to you – You’re a writer. A real, honest to goodness writer. Doesn’t matter if you’re unpublished, published big, published small, self-published, or any variation in between. If you’re dedicated to the craft of storytelling and you are actively putting words on a page, you’re a writer.
If not, and you’re still fretting,consider this:
1. Ignorance is bliss. Remember back in the early days of writing before you knew any of the “rules”? When it was a thrill just to type those words on the page and “publication” was some far off dream on a distant shore? If you find yourself traveling down the road of uncertainty, hark back to that earlier time. Too many “rules” equals zero fun. Ditch’em. Be that dreamer again. The completion of one book doesn’t mean you’re doomed to never write another good story again.
2. There are many paths to publication. Readers don’t care who published your novel. All they want are well-written, entertaining stories. I know I don’t go looking for books based on who published them. I just want to read something good and judge accordingly.
3. Tell the Doubt Monster to shut his (or her) gob. If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, consider it a form of self-doubt. Cut it out.
And finally, square your shoulders, hold your head up high and be proud of your accomplishments (no matter how big or small they are that day, week or month).
Now say it with me – “I am writer, hear me roar!”
Time for the truth – who else has had imposter syndrome? And what are your suggestions for combatting it?
Happy Friday everyone. Casey here. I’ve recently discovered evidence that the my sneaky adversary is up to no good. Look what I found!
To Do List:
5:10 am – wake up when Casey does. Whisper doubts in her ear about her WIP so she can’t fall back to sleep.
6:00 am – while Casey is doing her day job, read e-mail, catch up on latest DM news. Oh, look at the cute little puppy on Facebook!
8:30 am – Consider taking a class. “Character Assassination: 5 Quick and Easy Ways to Use Characters to Foster Doubt”. Or perhaps, “Your Author has been Published: New Fears and How to Foster Them.”
9:00 am – Decide to take both classes. More weapons in the arsenal of doubt are always a good thing.
12:00 pm – Lunch with fellow Doubt Monsters. Listen to endless complaints about how their authors have the delusion that authors and Doubt Monsters can be friends. Scoff at the idea. What is the world coming to?
2:00 pm – One more hour until Casey finishes the day job. Take opportunity to plant idea that time would be better spent on social media. And as a parting jab – remind her that she will never be free of the day job.
3:15 pm – Observe: Plan to steal Casey’s time with Facebook and lure of a higher Klout score appear to be working.
5:00 pm – Dinnertime. Torment Casey while she is cooking. Remind her that she’s been working on Mystic Storm since February. Ignore her counter argument that she wrote an entire book between May and June.
6:30 pm – Casey appears to be staring off into space. Her hands are on the keyboard but nothing is happening. Yes. Yes.
6:45 pm – Enlist aid of cat to distract her further. @#$@ Cat refuses to do my bidding.
7:00 pm – Uh. Oh. Casey finds my to do list. Yup. She’s making that super angry face. She flicks me away with rude gesture and bad words, then starts writing.Nooooo! Hey, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
9:00 pm – Am able to briefly tempt her away with a series of fun Facebook photos. But she soon returns to writing. Drat!
10:30 pm– Casey’s been productive despite my best efforts. Have no fear. Tomorrow is another day.