Katharina Gerlach is the author of something like ten books (more in the works), numerous short stories and poems... in other words, I want to be Cat when I grow up. Which will be tricky--she's markedly younger than I am.
Since my blog focuses mainly on getting your happy on, Cat generously offered some of her secrets to keeping a happy heart while she pounds her forehead against the keyboard in typical author's angst. Or wait, maybe that was me with the bloody forehead and the bad attitude? Maybe I better read her post twice.
Now that I've read the post twice, I think Cat has more than great advice here. She has a list of tips that apply to more than just writing. Planning, balance, purpose... they're all things that we need in the whole of our lives. She does a fantastic job of applying those key attributes to a writer's task.
In any case, you will find Cat at http://www.katharinagerlach.com/. Please check out her work today. She's a ray of literary sunshine. She makes me want to get my hands on the home row again and enjoy the process as much as I enjoy the result.
How I stay happy while writing
It’s not easy to write thousands of words without losing the drive a
little on the way. Being an author involves long, solitary hours followed by the hustle and bustle of a new release. To survive all this, it helps to find out what works for you as a writer and what doesn’t. Only then will you be happy with what you’re doing. This is what I do:
1. Plan what you need
As we all know, writing is the first, and often hardest step to
publication. It’s so easy to stare at the empty page of a new document with countless exciting ideas, and not a single word appears on the snowy white surface. Often, this is due to an overflow of ideas. Try to line up which parts of the idea are most useful for the beginning, the middle, the end. If you’re a pantster (someone writing without a plan), at least try to get to know your characters a bit before you write. Talk to them (although people will think you’re crazy if you do it in public) and delve a little into their past. If you’re a planner, don’t plan more than you absolutely need. If you plan too much, you might lose the joy of writing.
2. Find the balance
What? You don’t know if you’re pantster or plotter? Try both and see what works best for you. It all lies in the balance. I hated plotting for the longest time, now I couldn’t do without a solid outline. Still, I never do more than write one short sentence for each scene. I list the characters, indicate the POV, and add a few words on the scene’s purpose. That way, I have a red line to keep me moving through my first draft.
3. Don’t bind yourself too tightly
An outline is just a help. If my story takes a different direction, I stop and rethink my outline. Maybe, the new direction is more interesting, gets my characters deeper into trouble, or illuminates the novel’s theme better. In that case, I revise the outline. For me, nothing is chiseled in stone when it comes to writing.
4. Slow and regular
If you write 500 words a day (and you can do that in less than an hour), 5 days a week, you will finish one novel every year and still have time to spare on revising the monster.
5. Remember why you’re doing this
Put a banner with your favorite saying or a positive thought over your PC or on your desktop, something that cheers you up. Examples: My daughter/son/husband/boyfriend/mother wants to read this by Christmas; it’s her/his favorite present.
I can change everything during revision but I can’t revise without a first draft.
Every day spent without writing is a lost day.
6. Don’t forget to live
While writing is wonderful and can suck up whole days, there is more to life than that. I’ve got a garden and a motorbike, a husband and children, and even the household needs me from time to time (I discovered it doesn’t tidy itself, how inconvenient). Meet people offline and online, and do something where your body starts moving. Sitting in front of a PC for too long can be dangerous to your health (that said, I’d better go for a walk with the dog. It’s already begging again).
These are the rules I use to keep me going, and I’m an extremely happy person. Is it despite my writing or because of it? I haven’t got the slightest idea. Why don’t you try the tips I shared and let me know how they work for you?
Thanks for reading,
And thank YOU, Cat, for being my guest today! I love your tips, and I agree with each of them. My favorite one is #2: Find the Balance. Balance is my favorite word!
Happy writing, and I'll see you in the blogsphere!