Reposted courtesy of Writers Digest
My personal notes are in parentheses:
1. You find yourself in the throes of a title dilemma
Like every author on the planet, I’ve spent endless hours mulling over title options for my work. One strives, of course, to be both memorable and honestly descriptive of the content. But then, by and large, a great title is an art form unto itself and a great title does not necessarily signify a great book.
This guest post is by bestselling author Warren Adler. Adler is an acclaimed novelist of more than 40+ novels, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and consistently writes about his experience as an independent, self-published eBook author with his own press, Stonehouse Productions. Currently in development for Adler is the Hollywood sequel to The War of the Roses – The War of the Roses: The Children, along with other projects including Capitol Crimes, a television series based on Warren Adler’s Fiona Fitzgerald mystery novels. Learn more about Warren and his new film/TV developments on his website here. American Quartet, book 1 of his Fiona Fitzgerald series is now on Kindle promo for $1.99 through June 24th. Follow him here on Twitter and Facebook.
2. You get 100 pages in a novel and suddenly decide you’re tossing it all
This may seem insane but I normally know whether or not I am on to something good only after being 100 pages into a story. I’m willing to bet some of you go much farther.
(*This I have not experienced. Sounds painful!)
3. Your friends think you’ve become a recluse because you spend so much time at your writing desk.
I’m usually very regimented about my writing schedule and typically wake up at about 5 a.m. and start writing until 10 a.m. There have been times, however, where I’ve spent an entire day in my study working on a novel. Little do these friends know the kind of dynamic journey writers go on in their work.
(*The people in my life know I’m a recluse when it comes to writing! It goes with the territory)
4. Choosing between creativity and money.
We don’t live by money alone. For those who aspire to the high art of literary writing, similarly to painters, composers, musicians, and others who prize, above all, discovering insight into the human condition, we will always put creation over the clink of coinage (or at least find a clever way to bridge the gap).
(*For me, this is the most painful aspect of being a writer. But, I am confident this will change in time. It seems to be a rite of passage unlike success in other professions. Rare is the famous/successful writer who did not experience poverty early on and maybe continuously. Perhaps it is an integral part of the creative process– separating from the world.)
5. Sometimes you spend a lot more time researching for your story than you do writing.
Actually, this isn’t really a struggle but I’m leaving it in. When I was working on TARGET CHURCHILL, I spent months reading memoirs by Winston Churchill among other historical documents. It was all grist for the novelist’s mill. My research led to new characters and sub-plots. It was all so rich and intriguing that I could have spent a lifetime on the topic.
*(I have not experienced this but I don’t write historical fiction. I’ve had students who get so caught up in the research they don’t write.)
6. You have a lot of trouble trying to decide how your novel will end.
Honestly, if I ever knew the ending of a novel in advance, I wouldn’t write it. The way in which I write is to let my characters come alive in my head and interact with each other, create conflict with each other, and work out their own destinies. I know this sounds out there but writers will know what I’m talking about.
(*In shorter fiction, I usually get my ending first. But the novel writes itself. I don’t overthink it, let the characters do what they’re going to do.)
7. There are times when you can’t sleep at night because you’re constantly thinking about what the next page in your story will be.
Sound familiar? There’s nothing wrong with a smidgen of insomnia for the sake of your writing. It’s a kind of rites of passage for the dedicated novelist. I am always writing a story in my head, keeping a log of ideas that pop up. I find that the best thing to do is keep a notepad or journal near you so you can jot thoughts down, otherwise you’ll just end up more frustrated that you can’t get it out of your head and onto paper.
(*Going through this right now. I’m exhausted.)
8. Editors start changing and omitting parts of your story that you think should be left in.
One of the reasons I went independent was because I could not stand editors who took it upon themselves to essentially bulldoze entire sections of my work that I’d spent a lot of painstaking time on. I am always weary of this. I would rather make my own mistakes than have someone else make them for me.
(*Still ahead for me. I think about it all the time. Yikes!)
9. You’re CONSTANTLY rewriting!
Well, I firmly believe that the key to good writing is rewriting. When I write a novel I go back to it every single day and I try to produce at least 5 pages. I’ll write 5 pages one day then go back the next day, start from the beginning and rewrite. I’ve managed 39+ novels so evidently this isn’t such a bad process.
(*Over and over and over and over. I don’t intend to; it’s just that I re-read every time I submit or rework a piece and there seem to be so many errors. Plus, when you write a lot like I do you’re improving dramatically as a writer all the time. I’m a better writer now than I was even three months ago. I guess eventually it levels out, but I don’t know. I’m so busy going back and reworking older pieces that I haven’t experienced stasis yet. The one thing I am very happy about: I still love the plots of my earlier work. It’s just the writing needs improvement.)
10. You know all too well what it’s like to get lost in your characters, in fact, sometimes your characters get out of line and start going off on tangents.
If this doesn’t happen to you at some point then something must be wrong. Naturally, I become heavily invested in the characters I create, what they think, how they act, what they wish for, their passions, their emotional lives, their angst, their sexuality, their inner hungers and desires. They find internal expression in my third person style of writing and It becomes necessary to curb my imagination at times. You’re probably wondering what those tangents sound like (that’s for another blog).
(*Oh, the traps of subplot!)
I am a writing coach and experienced personal growth facilitator If I can help you with any of the above issues or others, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org