Ever wonder about what makes an author tick? How they write? Where they write? Where do the ideas come from? I've been asked those questions a few times by both readers and other authors. It seems like authors, like in most professions, have their own quirks and routines. So, I decided to share a few of mine with you all.
Did I always want to write?
Yes! I always wanted to be a writer and was a writing major in college. My first writing class, that whole dream changed when my professor said that she was surprised that I chose such a major considering how bad of a writer I was. *blink* Yeah, I changed majors right quick. In case you are wondering, she was right! LOL.
If I didn't learn to be a writer in college, where did I learn to write?
Interesting question and one that several authors can attest to. I really learned to write from being part of a fan fiction site. Great people there, many with considerable talent. I learned from them. I also blame these same people for nudging me (hard) into the realm of professional writing and submitting for publication. I've read several posts from other authors that they too came up from the fan fiction ranks.
How do the ideas for stories come about?
That's a bit more tricky. I can't say there's one place. Ideas just pop into my head. Sometimes it's from something I've seen on television or heard on the news. Sometimes a snippet just appears in my mind. I take that small part and start asking questions. What if this? What if that? Slowly, a story will begin to form parameters and take shape. The best parts are when my mind just starts throwing out suggestions and sentences. Most of the time that happens when I'm trying to sleep. I've learned that I will forget them, so I just resign myself to getting out of bed and writing them down. No matter how many times I have to do it before actually falling alseep.
Do I write a story from start to finish? Do I plot and plan?
I'm definitely a plotter. I like to know how the story begins and ends, at least, up front. The middle is subjective and can change. In fact, I tend to write what scene talks to me that day. Translation: I jump all over the place when writing a book. I might write the end one day, then chapter two the next. I call it filling in holes. It's a challenge at times, trying to make sure I keep my facts straight, and the story moving forward, but that seems to what works for me. If the story stops talking for some reason, I shift gears and work on one of the many books in progress that I have going at the moment. I may jump around to a few books before I get any of them done.
What are my favorite stories to write?
My favorite stories to write are romantic comedies, although I write everything from western/cowboy, paranormal/shapeshifter, M/M gay erotic romance, and contemporary action romance. I do both M/F, M/M, and M/F/M as well. Definitely more than enough to keep me from getting bored.
Do I put any of my hobbies or real life interests in my books?
Sure! I think most authors do. Write what you know, after all. I've written about nurses, which is my day job. I've also written about horses, rescued animals, and farm life. All those things are part of me and something that I'm very proud of.
Animals are my calling in life, especially adoption and animal rescue. Several of my books feature characters that have taken in a pet in need. The cause is near and dear to my heart as all of my animals have been shelter animals over the years. I can't imagine not having at least one pet in my life. After the loss of my oldest cat three years ago, I only have my 11 year old calico left. She's getting all the attention now and isn't complaining. LOL. I also have extended care of my parent's four cats and one dog. Those are a joint venture. Will I get another kitty or two for just me? That's the million dollar question. I've been sort of looking for the past year or so, but nothing has clicked. Yet. Time will tell.
What advice would I give aspiring authors?
Learn and practice. Don't give up. It probably sounds cliché, but it's true. Writing changes, fads come and go, and no one knows everything. Authors need to embrace their craft and be willing to learn to make it better. There's nothing worse than someone who possesses the motivation and ability, but their unwillingness to take direction and learn from others hold them back at the starting gate. I'm not an English major. I'm still not really able to grasp dangling modifiers, but that's what learning and editors are all about. The good news is that an author doesn't have to be grammar gurus. We just have to keep working, keep learning, and always strive to do better. There's good stories and there's great books. In order to move from good to great, it's a matter of doing your homework, practicing your art, and taking direction from those in the know.
Writing isn't for the faint of heart. It's many hours alone, in front of the computer. Authors write on a schedule. If we wrote only when we wanted to or felt like it, then nothing would ever get done. Dedication is the key. You have to want to be an author and be willing to sacrifice for it. Just like professional athletes have to spend hours practicing and working out, authors have to spend just as much time with their butt in the chair, fingers on keyboard, and writing, whether they want to or not.
One more piece of advice. Don't expect to get your first book published and become an instant multi-millionaire like J.K. Rawlings. She did the equivalent of winning the lottery in writing. The majority of writers still have to work their day jobs and write in between. Readers have to find your work amidst the millions of other books out there. It's a hard job to promote, engage new readers, and establish a following. If you have doubts, look at some of the authors who top the NY Times bestseller list. Look at how many years they've been writing and how many books they had under their belt before they achieved that level. Some make it in years. Some make it 30 or 50 books later. Some never make it. My point is: write because you love to write. If you're writing for the correct reasons, you don't be disappointed.