I first came across Gwen Hernandez when I was looking for tips on using the excellent Scrivener writing software (see my post on writing tools for the Modern geek here). Her blog was easily the best resource around but, even after I had found the information I needed, I continued to follow her blog. As well as being a wonderful person to know, Gwen has done all sorts of fascinating things in the name of research for her writing, and her website can be counted on to be both entertaining and informative. Here she talks about getting back the joy that made us start writing in the first place.
Thanks so much to David for inviting me to Ebon Shores today! He didn’t give me a specific topic, so here’s what’s on my mind…
When I started writing about three years ago, it was nothing but pure joy. My ideas came to me at all hours of the day, and if I was out, I couldn’t wait to get home to write. I wanted to write for publication, but I didn’t know any other writers, didn’t read blogs, wasn’t on Twitter, and just let the story drive me.
That was before I knew what I was doing. Years of studying craft, learning about the industry, getting feedback, and attending conferences improved my writing dramatically. But somewhere along the way, that spark slowly dimmed.
I still wanted to write, and I still had ideas, but sitting in front of the computer had become a chore at times. Writer’s block was common. Insecurity over whether I was “doing it right” ruled. My internal editor had me rewriting scenes, openings, and whole plot ideas over and over again.
I started books and stopped halfway through, sure that something was wrong with the story, but not knowing what. I struggled with how to ditch the stress and get back to the joy that had driven me early on.
Then something unexpected happened. I got a contract to write Scrivener For Dummies. *insert happy dance*
To find out how that seemingly out-of-the-blue event happened, click here, but what’s more important is what happened after I immersed myself in technical writing for hours on end.
After taking an extended hiatus, my creative brain resurfaced. Now that I don’t have so much time to focus on my romantic suspense manuscript, the scene ideas are flooding in.
You’re probably not surprised. If you’re like most writers I know, inspiration strikes when you’re not looking for it. Driving the car, taking a shower, mowing the lawn, walking the dog.
For me, it’s usually while I’m running.
Maybe the real problem–in addition to that infernal editor that only NaNoWriMo knows how to banish–is that I was so involved in building my story that I thought of little else. I didn’t give myself the mental space I needed for my brain to work its magic in the background.
And I was trying too damn hard.
Now that I’ve been forced to focus my attentions elsewhere, the spark is back. So, in the midst of trying to meet my deadlines for the Scrivener book, I’ve also been fitting in some “fun” writing again.
I just have to remember to keep it that way.
How do you get back to the joy when you lose it along the way?
While following her husband around for his Air Force career, Gwen has worked as a programmer, a business school instructor, and a manufacturing engineer, but now she’s finally doing what she always dreamed of: writing. She spends her days trying to silence her left brain and coax stories of romance and suspense from her creative side. She also shares her love for Scrivener–a.k.a. the world’s most awesome writing software–with other writers through online classes and her forthcoming book Scrivener For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, fall 2012).
When not writing, she’s usually reading from an eclectic selection of fiction and nonfiction, but she also loves to run, explore the local area with her family, travel, and practice martial arts. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two heroes in training, and a (really, really) lazy golden retriever.
You can find out more about Gwen at www.gwenhernandez. com