Friday, May 31, 2013

So you wanna write a book? Let go of the guilt.

Hey there. so today I'm going to blog about Junowrimo, which is like Nanowrimo, but in June.

So you wanna write a book in a month? You can do it. It breaks down to 1667 words per day for 50K in 30 days. If you wanna write 60K it's 2000 a day and 75K is 2500 a day. Seem like a lot?

It is and it isn't. The key to finishing a book on a time frame - or really just finishing one at all - is really only about one thing - letting go of your guilt.

I asked people what they wanted me to blog about and the number one response I got was "How do you write, work, mother, wife, live all at the same time?" It's all how you manage your guilt.

Everyone can make time to write. it may be tricky, but if you want it, you do it. If you don't make time, then you don't want it bad enough. My students who come to me after auditions in the summer and say "Why didn't we make it?"
The answer - you didn't want it bad enough.
Them: But I do! it's everything!
Me: Then why did you miss so many classes last year? Why didn't you practice your double pirouettes and splits you know are required for the team? Why are you asking after the fact how to improve for what you already missed? 

The secret to writing is wanting it. You have to be willing to give up things to make the time and then redo fifty gazillion times and then just once more to make it perfect. So where do you find the time?

Most of us can manage time. We manage to make time for The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural each week. We manage to spend hours upon hours on Twitter. We manage to work. We manage to go to work functions for ourselves and our spouses. We manage to take the kids to doctor appts, little league, go to the store, fix the food, get them up and on the school bus. We make sure everyone in our house, including the house, looks great, has freshly washed clothes, eats good food, gets to where they need to be.

But most of us, if we take any time for us to write, or shower, or eat something better than Twizzlers,  something that's very important, we feel guilt. And that's just ridiculous.

The collective they say if you want to be a writer you have to make it a priority. While this is true, if you're wallowing in guilt the entire time you're sitting there, your words will most likely be crap. I often marvel at the fact I can watch Damon Salvatore for an hour after the kids go to bed and feel no remorse in that time spent, but sit down for an hour to write while my kids watch Disney and feel like the worst mother in the world. Has the mommy guilt gotten so bad among our generation that doing something that really matters to me ends up with a stomach ache and antacids? Because I call bullshit.

So to pull off 50K in a month, or just to be a writer, the first thing you have to let go of is guilt. If you need to write, sit down and write. If you go to an eight job, do you feel bad for it? No. It's your job. If you're a stay at home mom or dad, you shouldn't feel guilty for doing what you love and are trying to make your job. Maybe it already is your job and this is your tenth book. I often wonder if Judy Blume feels guilt when she sits down to write because she should be doing something else. Or what about Stephen king? Or John Green? I seriously doubt it.

Because the bottom line is if you're a writer, you may HAVE to do other things, but there isn't anything else you SHOULD be doing. Get what I mean? You are doing what you are meant to do, and you should never feel guilty for that.

So there's the big secret - you have no reason to feel guilty. Anything worth doing takes time. So give yourself the time you need and don't take up that time with guilt. If you honestly think you can't fit in your writing, then you may have to tell the Salvatores and Winchesters you'll see them in the fall and buckle down. If you still feel it, you might have to stay off of Twitter. *shudder* But when you sit down to write with the time you've carved out for yourself, let it just be you and your words. I promise the grocery store and the dust in the house, and even Damon, will still be there when you're done. And they don't mind waiting.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What RT means to me.

Hey friends. I went to RT last week and meant to get this post up sooner, but since I blog at 3712837297 places now, today was the first free day.

So first off, what is RT? RT is the RT Booklovers Convention put on by Romantic Times magazine. (See RT? Clever.) But what it really is a chance to network, pitch, get books, meet other writers and have a general awesome time while learning all kinds of things that can improve your craft.

No, seriously. All that happens in a few days. I learned more in three days than I had in a year. It also renewed my zest for writing and made me more determined than ever to get my books out there. Why you ask?

Because the writing community is so amazing. I mean, I knew it before because I see you all on Twitter. But being there, in real life, hearing encouragement, swapping stories, it was so much better.
Like this:

Everyone needs a conference (at least) once in their writing career. Some people say wait until you have a book, but no, go as soon as you can. Make contacts, make friends, mind what you have learned, save you it, wait. Sorry, wrong advice.

So here are the five biggest things I learned at RT:

1) Talk to everyone. Agents and editors are real people too. And I found that four out of five times, they were just as excited to talk to me as I was to them. Here's why. I write books. They're looking for books. I might have what they're looking for or know someone who does. They might know someone who needs what I have. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Plus, most every single person I met was great which leads me to...

B) Most people were the same level of cool as they are on Twitter. The two people I met who were...well, less than amazeballs, I already suspected that on Twitter. But the people I connect with and adore? In real life it was simply amplified. Bottom line - none of us have time to be someone we're not. That's what our characters are for, right?

cat) Have a pitch ready. Know what the eff your book is about. This is the number one convo I heard and experienced:
Joe: Hi. I'm Joe. On Twitter I'm AuthorJoe.
Jane: Oh hey! *hug* I'm Jane. Or LovesToWrite78.
Joe: What do you write?
Jane: I write about the Muppets. But in space. Also, it's 1785.
Joe: Cool. I write YA. What's your book about?
***Now pay attention***
Jane: Um, well the Muppets obviously. And Space. And two of them fall in love, and it's kind of hard to explain but there's a time warp, and well, I'm still revising. But you'll just have to read it.

Okay, that's basically me anytime anyone asks me ever what my book is about. Which is dumb, because I know what my book is about. My point, practice a pitch, even for conversation. What if Joe interns for someone fab? They are talking and say I heard this amazing pitch, I think it's what you're looking for. When you show up at the pitch table the next day, the agent has already heard about your amazing Muppets In Space historical and is ready for the full. Learn a pitch. Or at least be able to condense your book into a few sentences. It's important.

4) Don't be afraid to talk about what you're good at but own up to what you're not strong at. Industry professionals are looking for the cream of the crop. Don't be a jackass, but don't sell yourself short either. If you rock the house at writing mystery novels, tell them. But - and this is important - don't lie. You meet Amazing Agent. She says she wants a steampunk Cinderella story. You write contemporary. Don't tell her you're thinking about writing that very thing, then Frankenstein one together and turn it in. That's not cool. Be true to you. Because what if it is amazing, but then you only write contemporary. See the problem?

*thinks about steampunk Cinderella story. Realizes I don't write steampunk. Damn.*

%) The biggest thing I learned at RT wasn't from anyone in our field professionally, but from the most important people in our industry - the readers. They were everywhere. Talk to them, pass out your swag and cards, that's fine, but listen to them. Sometimes as a writer, I get tunnel vision, focusing on things and wondering why some books are published and get lost in the machine that is publishing and the road to publishing. But listening to readers, what they like and don't and the looks on their faces when they realize writers are just people too? Priceless. If I could've had one day with the readers, I could have learned even more than I did. That knowledge can't be measured in value.

The last day I was there, I had breakfast with Brenda Drake, Erica Chapman and Trisha Leigh. (I'll pause while you bask in jealousy and I look smug.)

 While we were in line a mother and daughter there for teen book day stood in line behind us. Trisha struck up a conversation and we asked them to join us at a table because the line was forever long. They were such lovely people. But talking to them about their likes and dislikes in books. What they thought about an author's presence in social media, or at signings. Every single thing they said is a piece of information you can't get from people in the industry. And ironically, those are the people that really matter most. The ones you're writing for. The readers.

So there you have it. What RT means to me. Can't wait to see you all in NOLA next year. I'll also be at RWA in July in Atlanta. Maybe I'll see you there!

Until next time I leave you with this: