Sometimes it’s easy to write a scene, and occasionally is difficult. Then there are those scenes in books that are a real bear to write, that authors agonize over and rewrite again and again. thus the question for this week is:
What Is The Most Difficult Part Of Your Artistic/Writing Process?
Here are their unedited responses.
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For me, the most difficult part of my writing process is that I have so many ideas going through my head it’s difficult to stick onto one project long enough to finish it.
Just to give you an idea, I have the following things going on at any one time:
- Every day I write at least one blog article for my own blogs. I have half a dozen blogs and I rotate between them.
- Every day I comment, like and share a couple of dozen of other people’s posts on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Every day I create a video usually from my blog posts.
- Sometimes I create a vlog, which is a video blog.
- For my freelancing, I reach out to at least 20 people every day on LinkedIn to see if they’re interested in doing any freelancing business.
- Of course, I work on any projects that I’ve been awarded the appropriate number of hours each day. Billable time always comes first since that pays the bills.
- I try and get in an hour each day on one of my own books, which are short Kindle e-books on a variety of genres.
- Each week I produce one affiliate product which is intended to help writers by training them on a certain aspect of writing.
- I’ve been trying to do one author interview each week, although that has fallen behind lately.
Plus my mind is swimming with ideas, and sometimes it’s difficult to focus on one to work on it in a meaningful way. It takes real discipline to shove the 100 ideas and projects that are going through my brain away and just work on one thing.
Oo that’s my big challenge – organizing each day so that I can get real work done. Writing is my passion and my living, so it’s important to keep a good mix of writing for me and writing for others.
Wendy H. Jones
I love everything about the writing, or artistic, process so this is a really tough question to answer. At this time of year, I would have to say it is finding the time to actually sit down and write. November and December are crazy busy with book signing events as Christmas approaches so time is precious and rare. Carving out time to write is important and I use every spare few minute to write – on anything that comes to hand. Evernote comes in useful here, as the app on my phone is always available.
Every aspect of writing brings its joys and its frustrations. The first challenge is usually the saggy middle – making sure the book zings through the whole text. This leads me on to editing and proof reading. This can be a real slog, or a chance to find that missing something that lifts the book out of the doldrums. However, there is no getting away from the fact, editing is challenging. And necessary. And vital to the overall success of the final, highly polished, product.
But, I need to add, the parts that are the most difficult, or the most challenging, always turn out to be the most satisfying. They are what makes being a writer so rich and enjoyable.
For me, it’s the very last part of the writing process for each book: condensing the essence of the novel into the 100 words or thereabouts required for the back-cover blurb for the paperback edition, and for the book’s product description on-line and in the metadata of the production companies.
My cozy mystery novels are relatively short, at around 55K-60K words, but that’s still a ratio of just 1 word per 500 of the finished book in which to sum it all up!
These are definitely the hardest 100 words of the whole process – not least because by the time I reach that stage, the book’s been through all its finishing processes (editing, proofreading, formatting), and my heart has already moved on to my next writing project!
I would say the most difficult thing for my process is finding quiet space. As a grandmother who watches her two grandkids for my daughter-in-law while she finishes her degree and works full time, things tend to be very hectic and energetic at my house.
Thank heaven for a supportive husband who sees to it that I get some quiet time every day to write.
Deciding that the project is finished and it’s time to move on. There’s a constant temptation to tinker with things. I sent the latest draft to my editor two weeks ago, then two days ago I sent a message along the lines of “if you haven’t started yet, please don’t because I am changing things!!!”. I suspect she only didn’t kill me yet because we live on different continents… I gave myself a deadline of Dec 31 for Storytellers, the book goes to be proof-read in January – the proof-reader is booked in advance, which guarantees…maybe…that I will not tinker with the book any more simply because it would be too expensive. 😉 But the temptation is constantly there. Just this one additional bit! Just one extra sentence! Just one word…no? A comma? Please?
My main topic has been to explore new ways of thinking or looking at the world – to make life seem more interesting. Then the biggest challenge is not the actual writing – which is powered by enthusiasm and a sense of fun – but timing. I want to write and publish while the idea is new and exciting to myself, but then it is unlikely to be accepted by a publisher.
In the early 1980s I wrote a book suggesting that the universe might be a digital simulation (the phrase ‘virtual reality’ had not yet been coined). I not only gave the current scientific probability argument to support it but, more importantly, I explored the implication that a belief in it might have on religion, psychology, society etc. A literary agent passed it to a publisher as an “ideas” book, and was told that publishers do not want ideas, the public find them scary. So I self published 500 copies. About 13 years later the film The Matrix came out and the idea became very popular – there was a flood of books based on the idea.
In the 1990s “decade of evangelism” many “rationalists” were asking “whatever happened to the Enlightenment?” ie “why is there still so much interest in religion and, worse still, astrology and New Age claptrap, when we have had five centuries of enlightenment learning and rationalism?”. I had had a scientific/mathematical education (pure maths MA at Cambridge University) but had gone on to write books about modern magic, so I felt I was qualified to answer that question. But life kept me busy so I only finished the book a couple of years ago. By which time it was stale news.
These two examples illustrate the challenge: publish while the thought is hot, and you risk being taken for a crank. Or wait until it becomes mainstream, and your book will be just one among many strongly marketed alternatives.
The solution, of course, would be to focus on the marketing. But, hell, for me the driver is the ideas – not their propagation!
I would have to say the most difficult part of the writing process for me is editing/revising. I love the creativeness of coming up with characters, premise, and setting. The eagerness of putting it together and writing the story. It’s trudging back through the story, making the sentences sparkle and read well, that I find hard. But it’s a must that has to be done. I dive in because I want others to read the story I wrote with as much enthusiasm as I had while writing it.
Editing. I didn’t actually realise how difficult it would be. It’s hard not to succumb to perfectionism while you’re editing.
I am tempted to say all of it but perhaps the most difficult part is the final stages of polishing the manuscript. I read through the manuscript using the text-to-speech function on Word. It requires intense concentration but helps with finding minor punctuation and other failures and also allows me to reconsider words that might be inappropriate for the period. It is a really slow (and tiring) process as the feature only does 750 words at a time. Because of the slowness, it allows me to reconsider the story itself. When I was at this stage with Forsaking All Other I discovered that I had glossed over a prison scene with no mention of how the character felt and what she did to keep herself sane. Somehow, perhaps because of the pressure of looming deadlines, it concentrated my mind in such a way that I was easily able to write the necessary scenes.
I’d say the hardest part for me personally is being able to maintain a balance between drafting and editing the sequels, promoting Ward, my current novel out for sale, my day job as a disaster relief caseworker, beginning to work on collaborations with my Canadian Mental Health partners, and about seven other things. I’ve got a lot of experience writing and editing- marketing, not so much. I’ve found myself having to draft sequels while learning how to market my work and build my fanbase from nothing- but that’s the exact kind of challenge I crave. I knew when I was walking into the life of an Authorpreneur I was gonna be running solo for a while having to do everything; that’s fine, it’s the fair tradeoff of getting to be the ruler of your own destiny. It’s a lot of sleepless hours… but I can sleep when I’m dead. For now, I’ve got a mission to complete. We’ll go until we reach the end of the Earth, then we’ll build a rocket and take to the stars and who knows what’s beyond.
When asked what I do for a living and I respond that I’m a writer, it means I consider writing more than a hobby. It means I set up SMART goals, an action plan—a work ethic not unlike that if I were working a 9-5 job outside the home. Having said that, I don’t plan and budget for sick or vacation days. Therefore, when I do go on vacation or get sick and don’t write, I fall behind in my daily word count goals, and the momentum of getting back to my routine suffers for a while. Simply put, I tend not to plan for “life happens” and it wreaks havoc on my artistic/writing process.
So, my answer to this week’s roundup question is: budgeting my time to include “life happens” days or events is difficult for me. It’s wonderful when writers can work around their own schedule, work in pjs and sip a glass of wine while “on the clock.” However, when “life happens,” it can be rough to get the momentum back. It takes determination, perseverance and sometimes an image of Annie Wilkes from “Misery” standing over us with a shaking finger.
The solution would be to budget for several “life happens” days. Hopefully, by doing so would make keeping up the momentum easier.
This week’s answer: The most difficult part of my writing process usually occurs somewhere around midpoint in my novels. The set up is complete by this point and I always write the ending to my novels fairly early on, as I like to know exactly where I’m going, what I’m shooting for. The halfway point in a novel can present a number of challenges, such as: coming through on the many promises a story presents, continually amping up the tension, making sure the main plot (or plots) work in concert with the subplots, tying it all together so you don’t have ‘rabbit holes.’
It’s finding the time. Writing novels fits in alongside teaching medical students and working as a medical journalist for the best-selling newspaper in the UK. I often say one can write anywhere, but that isn’t the case when I’m tired or it’s noisy around me. Having said all that, there’s no point resenting the non-writing activities as they make my life busy and interesting. What would I find to write about otherwise?
My Donna Leigh Mystery series revolves around a menopausal ad agency owner in Omaha, Nebraska. Although each book encompasses the murder of someone known to the protagonist, the books are actually comedies. With three books in the series, the challenges have been in finding credible enough yet over-the-top comedic events, without an over-abundance of similarity, and in keeping the plot fresh enough overall that the books don’t start to feel formulaic.
Evanovich’s protagonist, Stephanie Plum, pretty much always sets a car on fire, it’s her signature comedic move. Perhaps I should have set a precedent like that, because creating new and outrageous scenarios is increasingly a challenge.
Each book requires approximately six comedic events to keep things moving at a fast pace. I realized this would be a daunting task as early as my second book, and the third book was that much more intimidating.
Along those same lines, it is a genuine challenge to keep my plots from becoming formulaic. The same characters want to say and do the same things. It is imperative to find ways to pull them out of their comfort zone without pulling them out of character.
Folks have suggested that I move on from Donna Leigh and start a whole new series, but my gut is telling me to stick with her for at least another book or two. And if I’ve learned one thing in this whole experience, it’s to trust my gut.
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