Before I get started, let's get some things clear. I don't claim to be an expert and to be honest, I probably will never be (an expert). I do not have a zillion best sellers. I don't even have one best seller. I will not be the next Anne Rice, either. However, I will be the first, last, one and only Rhiannon Mills and I am a writer because it is what I love to do. I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to. Somehow, the muse would drag me back to the keyboard and nail my fingers to the keys.
I started writing with a more professional outlook after reading Twilight (eeeeeek!). I hated the way it was written and when I'd stated my distaste, someone (I can't remember who, but if I ever do remember, remind me to thank them) said, "Well, why don't you just write your own, then!"
The wheels in my head started to turn. I'd already dabbled with short stories and things of that nature, but hadn't saved any of them. I already loved vampires, so why not write the story the way it should have been written in the first place (in my own opinion)? I could do this!
A few weeks later, I'd written seven chapters of Immortal Ties and had no plans for stopping the writing process. I started looking at submission guidelines all over the web. I ate, slept, and drank vampires. My point being this: Something in every writer's life gets them started, whether it's a statement someone else makes or an event in said writer's life. This was my turning point.
I believe that writing is a bloody, gory, painful journey through life. It's almost like a disease. Some folks have diabetes and need to have a shot or a piece of hard candy every now and then, but others have a "Writer Syndrome" and have to be at their keyboard for so many hours a week. Fortunately, the only cure for Writer Syndrome is to write and never stop. Even then, you still won't be cured. I have a theory that Edgar Alan Poe probably raises from the dead every now and then in his coffin and scratches out poems on the top of his coffin, then drifts back into his death sleep.
|This image always relaxes me enough to write:)|
Every writer has a method to their craft, even those of us who don't even have a method for folding their laundry have a writing method--although, sometimes the method could be an absolute genius way of sugarcoating mayhem. I think that may be what I have.
I have what I like to refer to as Writer's OCD, meaning that everything has to be just so before I can continue writing. I have to have my Joe Camel beer huggy full of pens and pencils sitting somewhere close. I have to have my ashtray next to me (because I'm a chain smoker), and I also need to have a drink somewhere. If it's coffee, it has to be in one particular mug, or I won't drink it (or write) until I have MY mug.
When I begin a new project, I google things forever and a day before I get a clear vision of what I want to do or how I wish to begin. I google random images just for fun because images and photos inspire me to no end. I will listen to music, leaf through recipes and articles, and scribble on notebook paper until some sort of a fresh starting idea hits me...and then, it's on like Donkey Kong!
I have a template that I use for character sketches and sometimes when I can't think of anything to write, I make up people instead. That's how I created a few vamps and a few tramps in the past few months. As a matter of fact, I think I've created an entire colony of characters that have no real stories yet--just big plans for the future.
The Writer Monster
When I'm ready to write, after character sketches and an initial synopsis has been typed up, I turn into a complete monster, the scariest monster that anyone will ever encounter. This monster has bags under her eyes, hair that strings out in every direction, is tired but super hyper from all of the caffeine that she has taken in, and more than likely will be living in a ragged old pink bathrobe for weeks at a time. She only answers to "Hey MOM!!!" and will snap off your fingers if you put them in front of her face. Proceed with caution!
After I've been completely transformed into The Writer Monster, wonderfully magical things begin to happen. My story begins to take shape. Sometimes I have to go back and edit pages or revise (and even delete entire chapters--*gasps*), but somehow I manage.
The biggest tips I can give to any writer...
1- Do not rush. Some writers can zip through 2500K or more per sitting. Others are lucky to make it through 500 words. For me, it just depends on what day it is, how I'm feeling, what's on my mind, and if anyone has pissed me off lately. When I'm angry, I can burn through a good 6,000 word short story in just a few hours. Can't say it would be very well edited, but the bulk of the story would be there!
2- Measure the amount of story you have by word count, not page count. If you tell an editor that you've written a really super duper awesome book about wolves and it's 300 pages long, this editor doesn't know snot by the time he/she gets to the end of your email. In that many pages, you could have written a 20 font story that, in the smaller font that the publisher asks for in submission guidelines, would equal 150 pages. This would be a case where your story goes to the bottom of the slush pile and is never recovered. Sorry, but word count rules the roost.
3- Do not assume that since your story is soooooo super duper awesome, that submission guidelines do not apply to you. Trust me, they do. Not only that, but if you speak to an editor with that sort of arrogance, you've just handed your (possible) acceptance letter to the next writer in line. Also, never assume that you know everything and that you can't learn from other writers. The truth is, you don't know everything and other writers can be your biggest support system sometimes. Also remember that other writers buy books and if you treat them like trash, they won't buy yours!
4- Do not feel as though you always have to write character sketches and plot first. If you see a scene in your head, just write it and get it out now before you forget it all. Chances are, if you write it the way you see it in your head the minute it pops in there, it'll be better than if you have to wait for it to surface again. Yes, this can be somewhat of a bitch, but trust me on this one! If you have to, write it all down on a restaurant napkin while you're having lunch with friends. They might think you're nuts, but if they're really your friends, they'll love you anyway.
5- Become a troll. Find out how other writers do things because you can learn a lot that way. I don't mean for you to become a copycat, but writers learn from each other. There are a lot of great online resources for writers that are actually written and posted by WRITERS...Great concept, huh...
6- Do not force your story. If you're just not feeling it, don't write it. Wait until you're ready to go, then proceed to write. Writer's block can be a real bitch, but it could be worse...You could write a story when you're not really feeling it flow and it could suck so bad that no one will even look at it by the time you're ready to submit.
7- Try not to feel like a failure when you get your first rejection. I could paper my entire house (and half of my mother's house) with all of my rejection letters. Even Stephen King has gotten rejection letters. We all get them and none of us like them, but ya just have to shrug it off and move on. If the letter has some criticism, use it to your advantage!
With all this being said, I hope that somehow I've helped someone out there. No two writers are a like, so I'm sure that some of you are scratching your heads and wondering what the hell you just read, some are calling me a hack and various other four letter words, and some of you may have just gotten a good dose of encouragement right when you needed it.
Good luck with the world of writing. It's pretty tough out there!
|Contact me at KellyShrewsbury@gmail.com|