For today's countdown, I'll list five things I learned writing Journey of Awakening (and the series).
Let go: One of the problems I'd come up against in writing this book is that I was rewriting it--for the tenth to twentieth time. Yup, I honestly can't remember how many reincarnations this particular story has. At one point, out of sheer frustration, I sent the manuscript to my editor, the talented and awesome Rhonda Helms, and just told her to tell me which story line to write. You see, I kept second-guessing myself, looking at the pros and cons of each direction I'd taken the story in over the last eight years or so. So I let go, took direction and took off. Now I have to do another kind of letting go.
Less is more. Boy did I tend to write flowery, pretty sentences that essentially went no where. I remember spending an hour trying to phrase the descriptions of sun shining through the trees just right, picking the right words in the right combination... Don't misunderstand. The key to a good writing is knowing the right word or combination of words at the right time, but too many of those descriptions and you're writing poetry, not fiction, at least not fast-paced fiction.
Action action action. I guess this is really part B of "Less is More". Because I described everything, my characters weren't doing anything. I think at one time I thought that readers would just like to come in and visit my world--and it is a very nice place--but if nothing is happening... Well, after awhile, even I got bored. I am so thankful to Rhonda and Alison for shaking up my characters, and their writer.
Trust your gut: Because I didn't have enough confidence, I'd made a lot of changes I didn't particularly agree with based on advice from people who didn't read the genre. At all. These changes required a lot of unnecessary explanation that slowed the story down. I don't ever advocate being your own proof reader and critique partners are vital in this business, but trust your instincts.
Time management: Did I mention I rewrote book one with a newborn that did not sleep more than fifteen minutes at a time? Most of book two was the dreamy, descriptive writing that ended up on the cutting room floor and I had to write it while taking care of the baby who still did not sleep (more than fifteen minutes at a time.) and my husband back at school and unable to help. Then came book three. Changes in book one and two negated almost all of what I had for book three. No rewriting there. At one time, I used to need to get in the mood, play some music from the soundtrack, daydream and then leisurely write for a few hours. Kinda of like writing foreplay.
Yeah, those days are gone. I learned to write whenever for however long I could. Five minutes? I can rough draft that dialog. Fifteen? No problem, I can tighten that POV. An hour? Woo Hoo! Watch me finish that chapter.
The cool thing about all of these is I can take them from the world of fiction into my day-to-day life. Let go. There are things I can't control. Less is more. When you concentrate on the things that are really important, you'll find you don't need as much. Simple is really better. Action? LOL I'm a dreamer. But even I know you have to get up and go after what you want, even if you have to take a risk to get it. Trust your gut. LOL Enough said. Time management. With seven kids and a husband, this is my constant goal.
So have you learned anything you'd like to share?