Running With Quills, Blogsite for Jayne Ann Krentz, Elizabeth Lowell, Stella Cameron, and Suzanne Simmons
Susan Andersen
Suzanne Simmons

Stella Cameron
Stella Cameron

Kate Douglas
Kate Douglas

Lori Foster
Lori Foster

Jayne Ann Krentz, Photo credit Marc von Borstel
Jayne Ann Krentz

Elizabeth Lowell
Elizabeth Lowell

Carla Neggers
Carla Neggers

  • Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    After the deadline

    Good morning, everyone! I'm writing from rainy Boston. I finished the first draft of my work-in-progress on Monday and took of Tuesday morning to visit friends from out west who are in town. We had a fun, relaxing lunch that included a lot of laughs and Boston cream pie. Now we're spending the day with our little guy, who is playing with his trains and going, "Toot, toot!"

    A nice, much needed break...

    I'm catching up on RWQ, and now I want to go to that cabin pictured in Stella's blog! I love to hear and read writers on their writing process. I'm not a regimented writer but I'm disciplined. I've found that I do best when I can let the forces of "abandonment" and "concentration" play out.

    For instance, on the drive to Boston yesterday, I figured out a problem that's been bugging me in SAINT'S GATE, my work-in-progress. I'll address it in the next draft, but I know this epiphany couldn't have happened if I'd stayed at my desk and tried to force it. It took walking away from the story. "Abandoning" it for a while -- which is different from abandoning it altogether! It's not quitting, and it's not really taking a break. I know I'll be back at my desk tomorrow. I know when I want to have the next draft finished. Deadlines give the abandonment a necessary framework. But I wasn't thinking about the story. I was thinking about lunch with our friends.

    I love the way Kenneth Atchity in A WRITER'S TIME describes the creative process. I highly recommend this book to any writer.

    This yin-yang of focusing on the work and walking away from the work helps me on a day-to-day basis, too. A long walk along the river in the midst of a pressing deadline gives everything a chance to sift around in the back of my mind. I don't consciously focus on the writing. I just walk.

    Okay, the trains aren't amusing Leo anymore. Off I go!

    Have a great day, everyone, and I'd love to hear how your approach a creative project -- or what you do when you've been nose-to-the grindstone and get a bit of a break.

    Oh, the other thing I do after finishing a book? Clean the refrigerator. ;-)



    Blogger Jayne Ann Krentz said...

    Great blog, Carla. I'm with you, there are times when you have to "abandon" the project for a while in order to get a fresh perspective. The other option I've found useful is to do something dramatic and unexpected in the story. One writer I know described it this way: "When you don't know what to do with the hero, shoot him".

    7:06 AM  
    Blogger Lori Foster aka L. L. Foster said...

    Carla, I'm with you! I a free spirit when it comes to my writing. I don't believe in writer's block. If I get "stuck" I get up and do something else - laundry, take the animals out, make a few necessary phone calls (the most heinous of chores for me!) and then the solution usually just pops into my head.
    I get a lot more writing done by not trying to demand too much of myself.

    I'm glad you're finally able to take a break! Hope the refrigerator clean up goes quickly. ;-)

    Happy Wednesday everyone.


    7:27 AM  
    Anonymous Vanetta said...

    One day I might know what you mean about writing. I hope one day to write an Autobiography. Everyone says I should. It will be a long time before I do though, life is in the way. :)

    Glad your having a great time with Leo. Can't wait for Saint's Gate!

    Oh goodness what a prize when your done your book! could have been something else like..... EAT CHOCOLATE & WINE! :)

    Enjoy your time, talk to you soon!


    7:41 AM  
    Blogger susan andersen said...

    Back when I was writing Exposure, a book that came out in '95, we still had our old oil furnace. When I'd get stuck, I'd give myself permission to just walk away and go lay in front of the register for some heat therapy. I'd usually only be there for 5 minutes or less, soaking up all that glorious hot air when the solution to my problem would pop into my head.

    By the next book we'd replaced the old furnace for a fuel-efficient gas model. And I gotta tell you, the weenie warm air that thing pumps out (and don't even get me started on the cold cycle!) just doesn't have the same relaxation properties that open up my mind.

    So, I'm going to try shooting the hero. ;-D

    Great blog, Carla!

    7:59 AM  
    Blogger Kate Douglas said...

    I have to remember that "shoot the hero" thing, but Carla, I have to tell ya, you caught me at the "Boston cream pie..." That is definitely a weakness!

    I get in the car and go for a drive. I read one time that it's a way to free of the "lizard brain," the part that works in the background. Always seems to give me a fresh perspective.

    Great post! Thank've got me thinking again. Unfortunately, it's all about the pie.

    8:54 AM  
    Blogger Aurian said...

    As I am a reader, not a writer, I don't have your specific problems. But stuff at work usually resolves itself in my head while having a nice hot bath. A very good place to think (when not reading).

    9:51 AM  
    Blogger Rebecca Ringler said...

    Very interesting, Carla! And the comments as well. I'm glad you are enjoying time in Boston after finishing the book. I am glad to be just a reader getting into a good book, but I'm glad you all have ways to keep moving forward. LOL about the frig. I am reading your first book now. Says your dtr was two at the end where it talks about you.

    11:16 AM  
    Blogger Carla Neggers said...

    Great comments! Lovely to come back to after a long walk with the little guy, who is 18 months old today. :-)

    Chocolate and wine sounds like a much better way to celebrate than cleaning the refrigerator!

    Really good comments. What a great bunch of people we have here!!

    12:54 PM  
    Blogger William Kendall said...

    How about stabbing the hero?

    If I'm at a creative deadlock, doing something else for awhile does the trick in getting past it.

    3:17 PM  
    Blogger Nissie said...

    Great post,Carla! I have to agree with Susan. Those old oil furnaces were the bomb! Our registers were in the floor and I'd get a big blanket,sit on top of it and just soak it all up. The new energy efficient heating that is so good for the planet and pocketbook,does nothing for my mood.
    When I finish a project, I treat myself to a spa day.

    Did someone say Boston creme pie?

    8:27 PM  
    Anonymous Lou said...

    OMG - Boston Creme Pie... I'm drooling... and craving...

    So, Carla, last time I asked you wouldn't share any of the particulars of your new story - care to indulge us now???

    9:16 PM  
    Blogger Mary said...

    Great blog post, there's almost something we can do to get ourselves back on track when we lose our focus while trying to do something that needs to get done.

    I usually do something fun like play with my rats or catch the next episode of The vampire Diaries. Heh heh

    4:56 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yes, indeed, please share your upcoming book. Just finished reading "Cold Dawn"....Loved it. Any further books with the characters in that serie?


    10:29 AM  
    Blogger Stella said...

    Hey Carla: There's nothing like involving yourself with little children to put life into perspective.

    How right you are that when you're stuck, rather than letting the mind run in ever diminishing circles, walk away for a bit and let things marinate.

    Thanks for a great blog.


    10:42 AM  
    Blogger said...

    I write stories for the 7-12 crowd with a series on dogs - The Chronicles of The K-9 Boys and Girls on Locust Street. I find myself with several stories going at a time so I usually don't run into a writers block because all of the characters have so much to say. With the articles I write though there are times I must push back from the keyboard and go read one of your books or another of the authors I 'follow' - unfortunately shooting my hero is not feasible - my dogs are pacifists; but I'm still laughing about that even after reading this whole thread.

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