I’m pleased to share a bit of wisdom from Renee Bernard (award-winning, bestselling, and inspirational romance author).
We all contemplate where our writing is going. Map it. Write it. Question it. Does it fit? Will it sell? Does it make sense? When do we change direction in order to please our editors and/or publishers? Or do we blaze our own trail, staying true to our craft and voice? Everything is a work in progress.
Shakespeare (my personal favorite) states;
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man….
As I’m smack in the middle of my own creative process working on the
set-up for a new trilogy, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the
balance of it. Do I think too much? Do I follow my gut? Do I consider
market factors or what seems to be “popular”? Do I stop thinking and
just attempt to “pants it” as so many other writers boast about how
the words just flow for them when they let go?
Bottom line: It’s me. I can’t overthink it because that’s not
possible. I can’t pay attention to the market or anything when I’m
writing because that’s not possible. And I can’t “pants it” because
that’s not possible.
Not for me. The reason I can’t overthink it is that planning means
I’m going to be effectively hitting the plotline I need to in order to
achieve that book. If I plan it out enough, then nothing can stop me.
And I also have accepted that no matter what I plan, the characters
will be quick to point out the holes, improvise better solutions and
make it a better book (pretty much without asking my permission).
I can’t pay attention to the market because I don’t have that kind of
bandwidth. Even if I wanted to be up on the latest trends or who has
the new hottest book or (insert a hundred other great things here); I
don’t have the time, the energy or the need. I want to write a good
story that’s mine. So no matter how tempting it might be to wish I
had a finger on the pulse of popular fiction, I have to let that go.
Writers talk about just plunging in but again, my brain doesn’t work
that way. Sadly. I want that map. I want to know the bones of this
thing I’m creating are solid and connected and won’t fracture the
first time a character digs in and says, “No.” And writing gods help
me, I hate it and love it when they say, “No.”
I hate it because it means my plot is off track and I’ve got to
restructure at least a chapter or two, if not more, to appease
whatever character is now unwilling to continue. Stupid character! I
love it because it means my characters are strong enough to know their
boundaries, fight for their lines and smart enough not to let me push
them around. Brilliant characters!
Best/worst moment in any book for an author is when you cross that
line that resembles lucid dreaming. There’s a dance with
self-awareness you don’t want to touch. You need to forget it’s a
book and just immerse yourself in the story. You know you’re using
all the craft and skill at your fingertips but you’re also trying to
forget that it’s all a construction. I’m pretending it’s organic
while at the same time I’m working, literally, working to cobble it
together. And if ever there’s a leap of faith, it’s there. Right at
that moment, when you forgive yourself for trying so hard and you let
the characters (who have hopefully studied that plot outline you’ve
stared at for weeks) have their wicked way.
So here I am. I’m researching. I’m pretending that I know NOTHING of
Victorian London and making sure that whatever image I have in mind
matches up with those plot arcs and that Master Plan. It’s collages
and articles, scribbled notes at 1a.m. and a growing lack of ability
to follow conversations that happen around me. I’m becoming a
terrible friend, a horrible listener and a very unreliable spouse.
Because while you’re talking about the weather for that upcoming play
date, I’m trying to remember what a boot hook looks like and would I
be in the right time period if a ladies maid had that tool in my
story…how scary is that thing? What common items did they have that
might double as a weapon?
I’m sorry, dear. What did you say about picking up your mother from
I’m writing. I know. It looks like I’m driving, or juggling the
house, and then tearing apart my little reference library mumbling
about orchids, but I’m writing now.
And when will it be done?
Soon. It’s a work in progress.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Renee.
Ms. Bernard’s latest release is Desire Wears Diamonds…
Where to find it…