Though I write in multiple genres, I tend to circle back to one genre in particular. Three of my published novels are historical fiction. My first novel, The Breach, told the Alamo’s story from the Mexican point of view. That book took me three years to research, two years to write, and another half-decade to convince a publisher to take a chance. I was fifty-years-old when the book came out. It seemed to me that if I wanted to build up any kind of a backlist, I’d better write something besides historical fiction.
I come by it, naturally. My aunt was always dying of something horrible (she actually did die of something terrible). My grandmother was convinced she had cancer (she never had cancer). If I have a headache, an ache, a pain, I’m sure I have COVID, an autoimmune disease, or malignant tumors. Just for the record, I’ve never had anything more severe than periodic high blood pressure. Talking myself into an early grave doesn’t do me any good.
I recently served on a panel for the Greeley Creative District with several other “area creatives” gifted in art, music, writing, and various other ventures. The topic centered around a familiar issue: Imposter Syndrome. What is it? How do we cope? And when have we accomplished enough that we can stop worrying about it?
Bored of being at home? Tired of playing the same old games over and over again? How about some Dungeons & Dragons (D&D for short)? It’s fun for the whole family, and it’s an excellent writing aid to boot.
The summer I turned nine, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris raced to beat Babe Ruth’s record for home runs. I was a Yankees fan, and their heroics inspired me to play baseball for a living. I would reach my late teens about the time Mickey would retire, providing New Yorkers with unbroken decades of championship outfield play.
I thought I finished writing about the pandemic. I’m weary from finding ways to convert coronavirus’s consequences into lessons learned that affect my writing. They exist, certainly. And I’m guessing you’re fatigued from reading about it. But I think I’ve got one more. Wake up!
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write an entire first draft, fifty thousand words, during November. If things go well, you’ll have a manuscript at the end of the thirty days of the eleventh month.
I asked a writer friend if he’d ever read a particular classic novel. His face puckered up as he admitted, “Yes, I had to read that for school.”
There’s not enough time for all the great books. My friend, author Pat Stoltey, recently told me, “My worst moment when I was a kid was the moment I realized I would not be able to read all the books in the world.” I remember a similar moment in my life.
The sun is shining brightly over the mountains, there are hiking trails, time galore to do what you want, wine, good food, naps, reading. It sounds like the perfect vacation, right? Except, it’s a writing retreat. So, where’s the writing? Where’s the inspiration when you have the ideal time for it? What happens at a long-awaited writing retreat and inspiration to write falls below eating, drinking, and napping?
Who here has heard habit trumps motivation? I’ve mostly heard this phrase at conferences, in interviews, on YouTube, and anywhere else a person can listen to writing advice. They all say the same thing: “if you want to be successful, you need to make writing a habit.” I think it makes total sense. However, I’ve been struggling to form a consistent writing habit for a while now.