Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh When the Thoughts Come Flooding in

Oh when the thoughts come flooding in...

I was mulling ideas around last night and this morning, trying to come up with a suitable subject to blog on today. Notice I said suitable. Many, many ideas popped into my head, so we'll just go with that. Hopefully my drift will become clearer in a moment.

You see, when I'm writing -- which is all the time in a round about way -- I need a lot of down time. Hours, days, weeks even to process, digest and defragment. During this seemingly unproductive phase, ideas regularly come marching in. Which is a good thing. And a bad. Stay tuned for more details on that.

When I start to stress about this "non-writing" time, I try to remember Stephen King's wisdom on the subject which he shares in that favored book of mine he authored, "On Writing". Once Mr. King was staring out the window and his wife asked him what he was doing. His reply? "I'm writing."

If a successful, commercial writer like King daydreams without guilt, then why shouldn't we?

This week, at least so far -- there's still today and this weekend -- I have not revised or written one word of fiction. Why? I've been busy with one thing or another, you know, same old tired excuse. But I've been bombarded with thoughts, ideas, snippets of dialog and plot and backstory. And most of it isn't even on the work I'm supposedly working on. But that's good. I think. Yeah, I'm almost certain it's good, because it's moving me forward, at least mentally, to tackle the next project when this one is finished.

The only bad part is so many thoughts stomping through my brain tend to static the signal the beings from another planet are trying to send me. Ha! Kidding aside, I try to give the fresh new ideas room to stretch their long, alien legs and grow, yet still stay focused and moving along on the project at hand. This is not always an easy task, which brings me to the day's question portion:

How do you keep focused on your current project? Or do you skip around and work on several at one time? If so, do you experience guilt over it? How do you lasso that guilt and make it work for you?

Several times Alice has commented that we prepubbeds are lucky. We have the luxury of enjoying writing for the sheer joy of writing, without the ensnarement of deadlines. She's got a point there. I say let's listen to Alice and Stephen King and enjoy the journey down the road to publication. Without guilt. And with as little stress as possible.


Elisabeth Naughton said...

Timely topic, Danita. Alice and I were just talking about this this week when I asked her how her book was coming and she said it wasn't.

I write in fits and starts. Some days I write like a fiend (like Tues. when I wrote 4800 words in one day) and others, not a word (like Wed. when I got a whopping zero). I find that I need that up and down time. I may write like crazy, but then I get to a point where I need to stop and think about what comes next - which often happens after a productive day writing day. Like you, I don't count my productivity just on word count. Editing, mulling plot ideas in my head, thinking about characters while I'm doing other things - all of those are forms of writing, and without that non-writing writing stuff happening, I wouldn't be able to sit and the computer and compose when I need to.

Danita Cahill said...

Wow, Elisabeth. 4800 words in a day? Don't believe I've ever done that many in a 24-hour period. Good job!

Alice Sharpe said...

My name and Stephen King's name mentioned in the same sentence! I have arrived. I'm not sure where I have arrived to, but what the hey, it's good, so thanks!!!!

Yeah, I need down time, too, with or without a deadline looming. You can't write what's not in your head. You can't move on when you're dead in the water and don't know what is coming next.

I love the stage you're in Danita with the book that is tapping you on the shoulder, sending cosmic rays, etc. It's true creativity at that point, the world a wonderland of what-if possibilities so far untouched by all the things that won't work, untouched by that part of your brain that likes to throw frozen turkeys off the bridge and smash the windshield of your dreams. Wow, I think I should be writing country western songs!

I always enjoy your blogs, Danita, they always give me stuff to ponder as I sit at the computer and stick push pins under my fingernails because it feels so good when I stop.

Like Eli said, this has been a frustrating week in the progress of ye old book!

And Eli, 4800 words in one day -- let me do the math -- is 19.2 pages. I used to have days like that! Marching music, drum roll, hats off, wahoo!

Danita Cahill said...

Note to Alice:

Flo Moyer, who popped in to comment on our blog the other day, is a wonderful woman from my monthtowrite group. She admires you, your writing and your books -- I sent you a note to that affect a while back.

Anyway, Flo is going through the revision process on a romanic suspense she recently sold to the Steeple Hill line.

Woo-hoo!! And if you're reading this, Flo, congrats again on that. And thanks so much for visiting our blog! We are honored.

Alice Sharpe said...

Oh, cool, I thought the name sounded familiar but, blush, I couldn't place it right off the bat! Congratulations Flo, if you're reading this! Where do you live? Is this Steeple Hill book your first sale or you fiftieth?

Have fun with the revisions....
(and thanks for your very kind words.)

Danita Cahill said...

Thanks Alice, as long as my blogs make you want to pull the push pins out from underneath your nails and not push them in further...

Lori Barber said...

Danita, great blog, so embracing. A topic that touches the lives of every writer. I too believe writing includes those racing thoughts that jump into our mind while we're in the shower, changing a dirty diaper, in a conversation, doing tedious odd jobs around the house, or having a mammogram, as well as when fingers meet the keyboard and tap out words forming sentences.

I do jump around from writing project to writing project. If I'm writing in one book and a thought or idea floats into my head for one of my other books I dash to that book file and set the idea to type before it vanishes. This just happened to me yesterday. I pulled my head out of the book I'm editing and re-writing, but only for a few minutes while I jotted down the snippets of dialog and a scene knocking on the door of another book. This method of jogging back and forth between books doesn't leave any trail of guilt for me. It allows me to peek in on another story now and then and it soothes my mind to know the book is slumbering peacefully like a napping child.

When I start to get stressed about my writing or not writing, I remind myself I'm on this journey for my own enjoyment. If I stumble down a path that fades to the equivalent of a meandering cow trail I forge on at a comfortable pace for me mental and physical, and seek out the new and fresh writing experiences (yes, sometimes it's a cow pie) found along the way.


Alice Sharpe said...

Lori -- Nice metaphors (particularly partial to "and seek out the new and fresh writing experiences (yes, sometimes it's a cow pie) found along the way."

I have had a week of cow pies. Gotta go clean off my boots...

Danita Cahill said...

Lori, thanks for sharing how you do things. Sometimes I open a file and dash things down too, although I haven't been of late. I guess because it's not comfortable to sit long at my computer right now so I've been writing long hand. Also because the next new project in line is a story I've been mulling for about a year. It's about two homeless men and I can't see any romantic threads in sight. And frankly, I'm not sure what to do with it. It will be mainstream, not women's fiction, and definitely not romance. But it's a story that I need to write.

Anyway, good luck with the cow patties and the fields of clover you happen to be meandering through!

Danita Cahill said...

Alice, I'd just wipe off your boots and look for grains of truth in the wipings -- maybe some of those charming little dung beetles are clinging there, holding round nuggets of wisdom in their little buggy clutches.

Anyway, maybe that was too gross an analogy for the city folk out there, but what I'm trying to say is that I'm sure it wasn't as bad of a week as you're thinking.

Genene said...

Wow! Lots of creativity among you ladies today.

Just as you are all meandering among the cow patties (love that analogy!), I'm pushing my nose back down to the grindstone to make up for years of meandering. What I've finally faced about myself recently is that I've been meandering a very long time and the result is a bunch of unfinished projects.

So I'm pushing myself more and more to focus on a few priorities until they are finished and then move on to what's next on my list.

It's working! And now I need to get back to my list. LOL!

Danita Cahill said...

Good for you, Genene, to recognize the meandering and the cow pies and get your priorities in order. Apparently, now the time is right for you to do that.

As for my website, I have not talked with GoDaddy about setting up files that I can send photo files too yet. I tend to put that sort of tech-talk stuff off and off. One of these days I will pick the ball back up and bounce it into your court again. But probably not today.

Also, speaking of photos. I have the proof sheets and the CD of the photos I took for your website and book jacket. Since I am out of the meeting loop for a few months, so won't be bumping into you at the Blue Pepper, would you like me to mail those to you?

(Sorry to clog up the blog with this stuff, folks, but Genene and my computers will not speak to each other. It's a PC vs. Mac thing, I'm afraid).

Paty Jager said...

Ah, you must have all been thinking of me with that meandering through cow Patys! LOL

When I'm working on a particular book, I may get ideas for other things that are in the pipe. I jot down the ideas in folders with the titles and then hop back into what I'm working on, but I have down times. When I'm stuck or something isn't working. That's when I walk away from the computer and writing and do something physical or completely different. Usually that helps the ideas flow and eventually I find my way back to the story.

Right now, as I'm ending Miner in Petticaots I'm thinking about how to set up the next Petticoat book. So I'm always thinking a book or two out.

Great blog, Danita!

Danita Cahill said...

Hey Paty,

great to see your face on the blog. I thought you were land locked with no internet service right now. Where there's a will, there's a way, I guess.

Anonymous said...

For Alice, who wrote:
if you're reading this! Is this Steeple Hill book your first sale or you fiftieth?>>

---Alice, what Danita wrote is true, and this blog is one I read every day, as you and everyone else who writes are inspirational and informative, both. To answer your question, I have 3 previous historical romances under my own name and five category romances for Silhouette under Hayley Gardner, the last two being Silhouette Romances. So this is my first sale to Steeple Hill LI Suspense, but will be my ninth published romance. Thanks so much for asking. ((And Danita, you're a peach.))

Danita Cahill said...

I'm telling you Flo, we love knowing you are popping over to read what we have to write. And I am so stoked for you!!!

Alice Sharpe said...

I agree with Danita, Flo, it's cool to have you come on over for a look see and even cooler when you stop into chat.

I wrote a few Silhouette Romances, too. That was a fun market. How are you enjoying the switch to RS? Who's your editor?