Is There A “Writer Type”?

Sometimes I think I have a weird personality for a writer.

I’m not emotional enough.

Not artistic enough.

Not introverted enough.

Instead, I’m a Type-A personality. Driven. Focused. Blunt. Organized. Business minded.

I set goals quarterly and focus on the future and have professional goals outside of publishing.

Because of this, people often discount the creative in me. They are surprised that I write. They are surprised that I struggle with depression. They are surprised that I feel things on so many levels at the same time. Surprised that I internalize my emotions.

“Oh, I wouldn’t have guessed that about you,” is something I hear often.

And it’s been that way my entire life.

I used to think that writing was just what everyone’s go-to outlet was. That it was normal that I obsessively wrote in my journals as a teen. That it was normal I penned poems on scraps of paper and then threw them away in between class. That everyone needed to write out their emotions in some weird poem or story to understand what exactly they were feeling.

But I wasn’t a writer.

I was going to be a lawyer. A businesswoman. A politician.

I wasn’t creative enough to write.

And so that’s what I believed for years and years.

Until I grew so tired of telling myself I wasn’t a writer that it forced me to realize that being a writer was all I ever was.

So maybe I’m not the classic “writer type.”

Maybe I’m not traditionally creative and maybe marketing comes easier than beautiful prose.

But I’m still a writer.

I write to explore the world around me.

I write as an answer to the stereotypes that push against me.

I write to discover who I am outside of labels and categories and expectations and fears.

I write because that’s how I answer my own questions about faith and love and forgiveness and pain and bigotry and motherhood and so much more.

I write for me. I write for you.

I write.

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Should You Outline Your Novel?

I consider myself to be a very organized person, especially in my professional life. Running social media and digital marketing for a large entity, it’s kind of a must.

That organization flows over into parts of my personal life (though I’m NOT a cleaner, so get that out of your head) I have 3 elementary-aged kids who all play sports, and well let me tell you. It’s either be organized or suck as a mom.

So naturally, when it comes to writing, I’m more of a plotter. That is, until I actually sit down to write. I never understood what writers meant when they said, “the characters tell me what the story is about” until I got serious about writing. Now, instead of thinking of those people like dramatic overly creative hippies, I find that it’s actually quite true.

Thoughts and ideas come to you when you’re engaged in the act of creating. Twists and turns you could have never thought of when plotting, all of sudden pour out of your mind and you struggle to keep up and catch it all onto paper.

So is that to say you shouldn’t plot? 
No way!

Plotting is essential for me. It helps keep my pacing on pace. It helps me know where I’m going. It helps me make sure I’m not just meandering around the plot and filling the page with pretty words.

What does an outline look like for me? Something a little like this (this is obviously made up and not a book I’m working on):

  • story opens with Jill. Set the need for her to get up the hill to get the magical healing water for her sister. Magical water is guarded by scary/evil creatures. No one has ever gotten the healing water since her ancestors 300 years ago.
  • meets Jack. Lots of chemistry. Jack is sick himself, but doesn’t tell Jill.
  • Jill’s sister gets even sicker. She has to get up that hill and get the water.
  • Jack offers to help her.
  • Break into the town leader’s hut and steals the magical pail that Jill’s ancestors used hundreds of years ago to bring down the water.
  • the start up the hill and get sidetracked by an ogre
  • ogre invites them for tea,
  • almost eaten by ogre. Jill saves the day by smashing ogre with pail
  • Pail is broken now. Need to figure out a way to mend it.
  • Have to go back down the hill to mend the pail.
  • ogre’s brother finds them while they are waiting for pail to be mended
  • instead of killing them, he steals pail when he overhears them talking about magical properties of the well
  • they go after the ogre to get back their pail.
  • make it up the hill, almost dying from a pack of demon wolves that Jack and Jill slay.
  • Finds shriveled ogre dead at the opening of the cave where the magical water is. Looks like he was thrown out. Pail is by his side.
  • Picks up pail and goes in.
  • Finds an ancient witch who makes them pass through 3 tests.
  • Recognizes Jill and calls her by her ancestor’s name. Jill finds out that it was actually her great-great-great-etc grandmother who bested the witch, not her great-great-great-etc grandfather as legend says
  • Pass 2 tests, but the last test will require the sacrifice of someone you love
  • realizes she loves Jack and he loves her, and before she can stop him, he sacrifices himself to the witch.
  • Jill is able to get the water in the magical pail, and gets dying Jack down the hill where she has to choose whether to give the water to him or to her sister.
  • He tells her he was dying anyways and before she can stop him, he gives the water to the sister.
  • the witch appears says she will heal Jack if Jill promises to become the new guardian of the healing waters. Jill agrees and the witch heals Jack.
  • Jill has to be back up the hill in exactly one year. Jack vows to figure out a way to free her from her promise to the witch.

So as you can see, it’s basically just bullet points that guides me on my writing journey. WHO KNOWS what would actually happen if I wrote this story because, like I said above, these are just loose outlines and the story evolves.

That’s my favorite part about writing actually. The evolution of a story idea.

Writing is tangible magic and I get to be the wizard who wields it.

writing is tangible magic and I get to be the wizard who wields it.

How do you like to outline?

A Weekend Away

This past weekend I did something I’ve been wanting to do for the better part of a year… I left on a personal writing weekend!

Getting large chunks of uninterrupted writing time is pretty much nonexistent in my world these days and I REALLY wanted those large chunks and also just some “me” time. Most days I feel like an introvert trapped in the body of an extrovert where I’m all… STOP.

This was my weekend to STOP. It was my weekend to unplug and let my imagination go… My weekend to have no one need me.

And let me tell you… it was heavenly.

The weather was perfection.

The Writing Barn was more than I had hoped for.

The silence was soothing.

I’m so grateful to have gotten away (and grateful to have a husband who encouraged it, even though it was over Valentine’s Day).

Taking a writing retreat once a quarter was on my 2016 Goals and I must say it was a really fabulous idea that I highly recommend! I got a ton of writing done and plowed through some plot holes.

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There’s Enough Success for You

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As a writer in limbo (agented, but haven’t sold anything YET), one of the most debilitating things to your self confidence can be watching other writers achieve the success you so desperately crave. And it doesn’t have to just be well-known authors who hit the NYT Best-Sellers List or writers you’ve never met before (although that can happen too). But the hardest (IMO) is when it’s with writers whom you think are the absolute best and most deserving people on the planet. It’s the weirdest experience to feel like you’ve been sucker punched so hard you can’t get your breath and then on the opposite side of the same coin feel ecstatic joy when you hear their good news. Two warring emotions existing in the same moment.

On the road to a career in books, it’s always going to feel like people are passing you by.

So and so sold another book.

So and so sold at auction.

So and so has already sold international rights to 3 countries.

So and so sold a trilogy.

So and so sold a standalone and is going to be top billed in the fall…

Then you just sit there, staring at the same ol’book you’ve been revising for 18 months and you think… this is never going to happen for me. Why am I doing this to myself?

Then you have the other writing related envy woes.

So and so can write so much faster than I.

So and so writes clean drafts and hardly has to revise.

So and so gets to write full time and I have to juggle a full time job and family.

So and so writes so beautifully and lyrical.

So and so has the best plots.

If you’re not a writer, you’re probably sitting here thinking, “Wow, Destiny, the grass is always greener on the other side. Get a hold of yourself!” and that is SO true! Because as I’m watching friends pass me by, I’m passing by others on this road.

I wrote, completed, and revised a book I’m proud of.

I got multiple offers from agents to represent my work.

I’m surrounded by wildly supportive writers who cheer me on.

It’s all about perspective.

I love what my friend Mara said in this blog post:

“Any time a blogger I knew got an agent, I felt like it was one less chance for me to sign with an agent. I truly believed there was only so much luck to go around, and that other people’s successes were my loss.”

That’s what it feels like. That someone else’s success means one less chance of success for me. Like there are a finite number of good things that can happen and every book deal means one less chance to achieve my dreams of becoming published.

How silly is that? Think about it logically. When you finish an incredible series that you loved, what is the first thing you do? You go out and buy another book hoping to have the same connection, the same love for the characters, the world, and the story. People don’t just read a book and then after they finish say, “Well that was nice that I got to check, ‘read a YA fantasy trilogy’ off my list. Now I’ll never read another book again.” That’s not how art works.

Good literature is a catalyst; it sparks a yearning for more.

And maybe one day I’ll be that more.

Until then, I’m going to focus on the only thing that I have any control over on this crazy journey to publication: what’s on the page. I’m going to keep writing, keep revising, and keep my spirits high because there is enough success for me.