Last week I spoke on a panel at Thrillerfest, a conference for thriller writers. A genre I am now writing in, a group I am now a part of. Although I have attended a myriad of psychology conferences, this was my first conference as a fiction writer. As an introvert, and a sufferer of mild social angst (many writers suffer similarly, so I’ve learned), I was filled with trepidation in the days leading up to the conference. As is often the case, my nervousness eased once I was actually in the situation. My imaginings of what it would be like to be in a place where I knew no one, and I would be rubbing shoulders with famous authors, turned out to be far worse in my mind than it was in reality. In fact, it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I networked, met lots of liked-minded folks, learned new things about the world of fiction writing. A world I am now a part of.
The topic of my panel: Caffeine, Chocolate or Wine? Writers' tricks to keep you going. Although I am new to fiction writing, I am not new to writing. I have been writing non-fiction for many years, and I am asked the question, how do you keep going, frequently. I think many people (or many whom I have met, at least) feel they have a story to tell. They want to write something, but they don’t know where to begin. Others begin a piece, become lost, overwhelmed, doubts slow them down or stop them completely.
It was interesting to hear fellow panelists talk about their respective writing processes. Everyone had their own unique way of maintaining the flow, the perseverance and the will necessary to follow a book through to completion. Writing a book is not easy. The process of writing is wonderful, freeing, exhilarating, cathartic. Writing so that others will be able to understand your thoughts, so that readers will want to follow the writing from start to finish, getting something as long as a book ready for publication, this is an all-encompassing process.
Writing a book is a love affair, a passionate, whisked away, steamy love affair…
The most dangerous kind of love affair. A love affair where you abandon yourself, let yourself be taken, spend all of your time daydreaming about the last time you touched, or the next time you’ll embrace. You may not eat, you will lose sleep. You will learn things about yourself which will surprise you, enlighten you, disturb you.
It’s the kind of passionate affair that breaks down boundaries. There is no safety, no security, no predictability. Some days you’ll have no idea where you’re going, but you keep going because you feel it, the passion, the excitement, the danger. This is the kind of affair that can elevate you to pure ecstasy, then suddenly and without warning, drop you to the deepest despair.
Ahem, OK, I’m sweating now.
As for the coffee, wine or chocolate question, I am of the coffee-type. I also, perhaps unconventionally, use running (which was not given as a choice, I know). Running clears my thoughts, heightens my focus, gets me outside and, I love it. Besides, it often helps me through times of doubt, which is *like* everyday.
Writing a book is a love affair.
Voluntarily placing your heart on the inevitable emotional roller coaster of a hot-blooded love affair may seem daunting, even terrifying. But what is life without love, passion, desire, longing? If you want to write, write. Don’t let the fear get in your way. Write like no one is watching. Let yourself feel things deeply, painfully, joyously. Be scared. Feel insane. Live in the moment. Risk your heart. There is no joy without pain. There is no love without heartbreak. Let your heart pour out fearlessly on those pages. It’s worth the blood, sweat and tears. This… I can promise.
And if all else fails, coffee in the morning, pizza in the afternoon and a margarita in the evening might be worth a try. *sigh*