Coffee Dates: Frustrations

Good Morning, Creatives!

Tomorrow’s the weekend! Anyone have any plans? Writing, adventuring, or just sleeping? (I’m mostly planning on sleeping, if at all possible.)

Since I need sleep (and I always do) this week’s question is about frustration. Which part of your writing journey frustrates you the most? What gets you really heated and annoyed with it for interrupting your story’s flow?

My Process

Writing can be so, so frustrating, and it’s never more frustrating for me than when I know I have limited time, I know I have a pile of work to get finished, and all I can do is stare at a blank screen or pound out wooden words that I can’t enjoy or savor at all.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in this, right?

If I’m honest, these moments crop up because my body and my brain need REST, and I am not very good at resting. I like to have my to-do list, finish my to-do list, and get a bit extra done for luck. Anyone with me in this?

My Struggles Within That

I cannot convince my poor tired brain to cooperate without taking proper care of it. Which irritates me. It makes sense, of course, and I know it makes sense, but I would rather it didn’t make sense and I was able to force out a few thousand words whenever I felt like it.

Because I am impatient.

So, instead, when I start staring blankly at a screen, I am learning to take a pause, take a minute, and just rest. Read a good book, lie back and close my eyes, or just stare out the window for a while.

Someday, I’ll convince myself to do this on a regular basis.

Your Thoughts

What is one of your biggest frustrations while you’re writing? What steps have you taken/would you like to take to counter that frustration? Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Genre

Good Morning, Creatives!

Who else needs coffee today? I do. I need a caffeine drip into my veins just to keep me going. Too much coffee (or black tea) knocks out my creativity, but so does falling asleep at my desk.

There’s a balance to this, right? There’s got to be a balance.

Balance (in our writing) is the theme of this week’s question, because this week, we are talking about genres! What genre do you write in? Have you been able to keep your books to one or maybe two genres? Or do some of your stories get away from you and end up a little unbalanced?

My Process

I love writing in so many different genres. I have a biography under my belt, non-fiction articles, five full-length fantasy novels, and a scattering of children’s fiction and short stories in way too many genres to count. Some of them are so undefined that I haven’t bothered even trying to put a label on them.

Still, in the end, my heart always comes back to fantasy. There’s something about the creativity and the whimsical side to it that pulls me along. I love it for the mystery and discovery in it, and no matter what I write, that will always be my first love.

My Struggles Within That

Keeping my brain focused! Genres are hard, and at some point (if you’re pitching to an agent or a publisher) you do want to be able to define them with one or two simple phrases. Having a list of ten genres that you hit in the same book could very well get you a hard pass from anyone you pitch to… so I try to keep my ideas sorted into the right baskets. As far as I can, anyway.

Your Thoughts

What genres do you love to write in? What gets you excited and passionate and eager to explore the places you’re writing about, even when it’s not your ‘typical’ writing time? Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Characters

Good Morning, Creatives!

You made it through the week! Congratulations, you’ve done amazingly well! *Throws glitter and confetti in celebration.*

Seriously though, congratulations for making it through another week and holding onto your commitments as a writer. The world needs writers, and it especially needs writers who are passionate about their stories and about characters. Which leads to my question for this week . . . how do you get to know your characters? How do you come up with them? Do you meet them in the street? In daydreams? Or are they only there to people your amazing worlds?

My Process

I am terribly picky about my characters. Horribly. I like them to live and breathe, and I detest wooden statues. When I first began writing, I would sit down and do long questionnaires for my characters and know all about their little peculiarities.

Now . . . now I like to get to know them the way I get to know my friends. With time.

My Struggles Within That

I can’t come up with characters quickly! They need time to emerge and bloom a bit, and if I don’t give them that time, they end up flat and belligerent. Also, it’s far too easy for a new character who was in no way planned to waltz in and steal my heart and way too much of my attention.

Your Thoughts

How do you get to know and develop your characters? Do they come to you fully formed, names and all, or do you have to build them bit by bit? Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Music

Good Morning, Creatives!

Anyone else make it all the way to Friday this week? I feel like I crawled in like a man out of the desert. If you see an oasis anywhere nearby, I’d love directions.

I’m kidding.

But it does feel like that sometimes, doesn’t it?

This week’s question is about music, because I am always, always fascinated by how music affects the creative process. It seems to change from person to person, but I have met so, so many writers who tell me that music is a large part of their process!

My Process

Music is my escape. It’s my creative spark and what I always run back to when I have a plot hole. I listen to everything and anything, and if you happen to ask what I’ve got going in my headphones at any given moment, be prepared to be answered with anything from Mongolian rock to Christian rap to Josh Groban.

My Struggles Within That

I run out of songs! I listen to my favorites over and over again, but I am always on the lookout for new music. When I do run out of new music—rather sadly—it’s hard not to keep my ideas from drying up or becoming repetitive.

Your Thoughts

Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Any recommendations for a constantly searching addict? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Pantser or Plotter

Good Morning, Creatives!

Friday is finally upon us! How was your week? Any new ideas pop up, or old projects wrapped up and tied with a neat bow? Friday is the perfect time to wrap things up, or to birth a new idea when you have all weekend to indulge in a little daydreaming or extra journaling.

This week’s question is about just that, and it’s an age-old question for writers everywhere! Are you a pantser or a plotter? In other words, do you plot your stories out beforehand, or discover them as you go?

My Process

I used to be a die-hard plotter. I would cover my walls with sticky notes and plan out every scene verbatim. But eventually my characters started to rebel, and I found myself drawn into new territory every time I sat down to write. Now, especially with new books upon me and new ideas taking shape, I have been forced a few times to slow down and plot a bit out beforehand. I always like to know the quarter mark, halfway mark, and three-quarter mark, and what starts the climax. Other than that, I usually let it unfold as it comes!

My Struggles Within That

I don’t always know what’s happening next! World-building catches me out fairly often, and I’m forced to push pause on writing and figure out what’s happening in my head. Sometimes that slows the process down a good bit, and sometimes it changes the direction of the story so drastically that even I scarcely recognize it. Life as a writer is always an adventure!

Your Thoughts

Which are you? Do you plot your books religiously before you ever write a word, or do you start with a few ideas, a stunning character, and a devil-may-care attitude that carries you through to the last page? I’d love to hear about your process, and how it’s changed over the years as you’ve grown as a writer. Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Process

Good Morning, Creatives!

It’s Friday, my friends! The week is over, a weekend of rest is (hopefully) ahead of us, and for some, maybe a little extra time to write! This week I have been thinking a lot about the process behind a writer’s routine and how different it can be for each and every one of us. I spent some time talking with a friend this week who is a songwriter and a musician, and it was so fun to compare our processes and see the similarities and the differences! What a cool parallel!

My Process

I’ve spent a lot of time developing my process over the years. What works to get me writing, what helps, and what distracts and discourages. I’m nowhere near perfecting my process by any means, but what I’ve learned has helped me so much!

Usually, when I start writing in the morning (because I am most definitely an early bird), I like to take a minute before I open my computer and ask the Master Storyteller to come and sit with me. God has always been a huge part of my writing routine, and I’ve found that my best ideas come when I am in line with my Creator.

Then, depending on where I’ve left off the day before, I either jump straight into writing or outline my scene in my notebook. Sight, sound, taste, touch, and a brief sequence of events all get dumped into a page of scribbling, then I feel prepared to get started.

My Struggles Within That

No system is perfect! Some of the ways I’ve struggled with getting myself started in the morning are because I spend that bit of extra time outlining in my notebook—if I finish a scene and want to keep going, I have to pull myself out of my rhythm to go back and outline the next scene. Not always convenient!

Your Thoughts

What gets you started for a writing session? Do you have a thing, or series of things, that you do to get your head in the game and get yourself moving? I’d love to hear about it, and any tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years! Tell me about them in the comments!

Coffee Date

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Writer, I have an invitation for you.

I’ve been spending more time with my girls lately (shoutout to Gloria for all her loveliness and amazing stories) and it has made me realize how much I love to sit down with other writers and ‘talk shop’.

Writing is lonely. It’s slow and frustrating, and when you walk alone, it seems impossible.

So I have an invitation for you.

Writer, I will probably never meet you in person, but I would like to have a coffee with you right now. We can find a table in the corner, by the window or behind the potted plants. We can have a cup of coffee each or maybe a pot of tea between us, and we can talk.

Tell me about your journey, about the story you’re working on, about why you started writing and how long you’ve been creating worlds from pens and paper. What’s the title of your manuscript? What do you love about it?

If you like, I can start.

I’ve been writing for seven years. I have eight books behind me, and the manuscript I am pitching now is called We, the Deceived.

I started writing because I loved stories. When I first began, I wasn’t really worried about being published or read, only in learning my process and finding joy in the writing. Since I definitely wasn’t much of a wordsmith when I started, that was a good thing!

Writers need a community, and that’s what I would love to build here. So please, join in! Sit down, have a cup of coffee or tea, and introduce yourself!