I smiled when I saw the survey response asking me to talk about the life of a writer. I get asked questions often about my process in writing: how long it took me to write Stones of Remembrance, and where my inspirations come from. Someone once asked me if Stones of Remembrance was the story of my husband and I falling in love and I laughed out loud (the answer is no).
There is very little method to my madness here.
Stones of Remembrance was my reaction to the Twilight series. You can read about that story here. When I began typing, I knew absolutely nothing of Allaya — I didn’t even know that Finn existed yet. It was so abstract that “Allaya” is a name that I thought I had made up. I saw a lake in my imagination, and so the scene was set and the story pretty much wrote itself.
Stones took a long time to finish; I had personal struggles that the Lord was working out in me as He worked them out in Allaya and I often had to walk away from her because I couldn’t tell her what she needed to hear. I don’t remember exactly but I want to say that that book took a year to write from start to finish.
Nor Forsake was a much different story. I woke up from a nap one day (I still had a toddler who blessed me with afternoon naps) with two names on my tongue and immediately began writing and I didn’t stop until the story was finished seven days later. Writing had become my addiction.
The next book was also written in a week, and was the result of one of the most intense dreams I have ever had; it is, in fact, my favorite story line. I’ve re-written it many times trying to make it perfect and it’s just not there yet.
I wrote non-stop for a few years, and then things began to slow on that front as our lives changed drastically from one month to the next. To date, including the first two, I have twelve manuscripts and 3 short stories in my “Books” folder. There are three series’ (each one still needs it’s final manuscript completed) and one more stand alone novel. I told you, it’s an addiction; I have years worth of publishing to keep me busy.
There are still stories inside of me that want to be written, though, including my own. Time is my enemy right now, and that is why I smiled at the request to write about this topic. I used to eat, sleep and breathe writing and now I have to purposefully carve out the time to make it happen and these days that looks more like learning to be a better writer and building my social media platform than it does writing novels. In order to sell the novels though, those two things are pretty important.
What I know is true of most best-selling authors is that they make it a habit to write something every single day, even if it’s garbage, and they make time to read books in and outside of the genre they write in.
For this writer, however, I don’t always write every day and I have to force myself to carve out reading time — not because I don’t love it, but because I love it so much that everything else disappears into the background and nothing gets done until I finish the book. Life doesn’t allow for that very often these days.
I have a writing soundtrack on Spotify that I often turn on while I’m working on a novel. It’s full of songs that have served as inspiration for different story lines, as well as music that evokes emotion in me (which, admittedly, isn’t hard to do).
I love to write at night with a glass of wine and a couple pieces of dark chocolate, but now that my kids are in school, that is a rarity. Gone are the days of staying up late and mom-napping on the couch with one eye half-open while they watch Nick Jr. in the mornings.
I used to curl up in a corner of the couch or a love seat with my computer warming my lap and let my fingers fly across the keys and I couldn’t imagine my creativity flowing in any other setting. When my back problems started rearing up, though, it was time to make a change and now I sit at the same desk that I work at every day.
That used to be a problem because I would finish working and be so tired and sore that I didn’t have anything to give my writing, but with the help of the book The One Thing I learned the value of doing the most important thing first, so now I do my writing work before I do my ‘job’ work. It’s made a huge difference, and I can’t tell you how great it is to be writing regularly again.
My blogs are usually inspired by my quiet times, and I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret . . . if I’m not blogging often, it’s usually because I’m not being disciplined in my times with the Lord. Now I have a world wide web of accountability wink wink.
To date I have attended exactly zero writing or blogging conferences because, hi, my name is Julie and I’m a classic introvert. This is an area where I should probably stretch myself as well. I did enroll in Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers course this year though, and I’m learning and growing a lot from what I am absorbing there.
I can’t give you a schedule or a plan that explains the life of a writer; every writer is different and has a different process. Here’s the one cold, hard fact about writing that I do know: Writers have to write. There is no way around it and nothing makes us feel better about anything than getting our thoughts out into print, even if we are the only ones who ever see it.
Are you a writer? What’s your process? What does a day in your life look like?