Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's All About the Process

I’m preparing to write my tenth contracted Blaze right now. After a few years, my editor and I have narrowed down and honed my writing process. For instance, we know I need a solid, clear-cut synopsis with the plot nailed down before I start writing. We know that the first three chapters will take me the longest to write, often just as long as the rest of the book. And because we know these things, we’ve established a pretty comfortable routine of me writing and turning in my synopsis, she edits and asks for revisions on it, I rewrite and resubmit, etc until its right. Then, with this solid foundation, I write.

This is my process. It works. It’s worked for a lot of books now. And it’s a process that I not only embrace, but actually do enjoy.

I know what I need to do. I know that it will work, once I get it all into place. I know that, while the completed project will take quite a few turns before we reach the bookstore shelf, the process of writing this book will be somewhat similar to previous books and will require a great deal of discipline, faith and creative energy on my part. I also know that because I have a deadline, I’ll stay on track and work the story until its right, but push myself to get it done in a timely way.

All good, right?

So what’s the problem? I’m stuck. I’m stuck and frustrated and stressed. I can’t get the synopsis right, I don’t have a handle on the plot and my characters are murky in my mind. What I’d thought this story would be is nothing like what I’m ending up with on the pages. I’ve started over three times already, each one feeling the weight of writer-doubts pounding at my confidence.

Sound familiar? Isn’t this the same process we often go through in our weight journey? After a few tries, we’ve figured out what works for us. We know the path, we know what we need to do, how to eat and exercise to see results. And we know we’ll hit bumps in the road, we’ll have to revise our plan and we will quite probably hit a few walls that hold us back longer than we’d like.

For me, it’s been a major mind-shift to take my acceptance of this being the norm in writing and realize that yes, it’s also the norm in weight loss. That for me, personally, I have to have a plan. I have to work that plan diligently, revising as necessary and when I get off track, bring myself back into focus. I have to work as if I have a deadline, so I push hard enough to see results. And I have to accept that where I end up might not be exactly where I thought I’d be when I started.

How about you? If you are a writer, do you see any similarity between your writing process and your weight-loss process? If you’re not a writer, does this seem familiar anyhow?

Tawny Weber writes hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze. In January 2010, her novella, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, was out in the Blazing Bedtime Story anthology and her next full length Blaze,, RIDING THE WAVES, will be out in September 2010. Come by and visit her on the web at www.tawnyweber.com

9 comments:

Sally Kilpatrick on March 11, 2010 at 9:07 AM said...

Tawny,

This is a great post. I remember thinking that if I devoted myself to fitness that I would lose momentum with my writing. I discovered that I actually became more disciplined all the way around. Going to the gym forced me to create a routine. Instead of not having time for writing, I created time for writing.

Writing also gave me an outlet--something to do other than eat. Unfortunately, I developed a predilection for chocolate chocolate chip muffins while I write at Gabriel's, but I've even learned to combat that.

Similarly, I hit plateaus in weight loss and I hit snags as I write. The overriding theme of my life at the moment seems to be that I have to keep on keeping on. No matter what's going on, keep writing and keep exercising. Skipping a day at the gym is no excuse to skip a week; skipping one day in front of the computer is no excuse for skipping a week.

It all goes together. Oh--and side benefit? Our treadmill broke a few weeks back, and we started doing sets of stairs. I tried working sets of stairs in with my writing, and it helps me to mull things over--I was working on a synopsis at the time. Freaky how it all goes together.

Michelle Butler on March 11, 2010 at 10:17 AM said...

It often surprised me that I'm happiest and most productive - in all areas of my life - when I am working out regularly. There's definitely a connection.

I have read that when you know exactly what you need to do to accomplish your plan but you can't seem to do it - there is some kind of (emotional) issue stopping you. I can definitely say that has been the case for me in both writing and losing weight.

Tawny on March 11, 2010 at 5:04 PM said...

Sally, I can't count the times I've heard people say that we can be successful at writing or at weight control, but not both. I think its one of those myths that we tend to buy into and let keep us from seeing success - but I'll admit, it took me a few years to accept that :-D

I'm so glad the comparison of writing and weight loss clicked so well for you ;-) The big lesson I got from this was that its NEVER going to be easy. Simple, second nature, natural, yes. Easy without any bumps or stress... nope. But then, when is life, either?

*g* and go you on the side benefit!!! YAY - what a great breakthrough, huh?

Tawny on March 11, 2010 at 5:05 PM said...

Michelle, I'm with you. When I exercise, I just feel better all 'round. I think you're right, too, that our blocks tend to be emotional. Often, sadly, we can see exactly what they are, too and still can't leap over them. At least, not right away... but we do get there, don't we?!

Michelle Butler on March 11, 2010 at 7:05 PM said...

Patience, persistence and not judging yourself (too harshly) always help! :)

Tawny on March 11, 2010 at 10:34 PM said...

I wish I could think up another 'p' word to finish that thought into a buzzy sort of tagline, Michelle :-)

Patience, persistence and pats on the back?
Patience, persistence and paperbacks? (groan)
Patience, persistence and praise?

Maybe that last one, huh?

Because, really, how often do we actually praise ourselves??

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on March 11, 2010 at 11:33 PM said...

There are so many similarities between writing and exercising/eating right. I've found that if I can get a routine for both, I do much better. It's when that routine is interrupted that I tend to falter, like when I travel. It's not an excuse, just something I have to work on.

Tawny on March 12, 2010 at 2:19 AM said...

Trish, I'm with you. Oddly enough, I find it easier to continue an exercise routine when I travel than to keep up my writing. I've learned that deadlines are great for pushing me past that block, more often than not, though *g*.

It helps, I think, to find portable tools. For writing, a laptop, of course. Or an Alphasmart or whatever writing tool works best. I have to have my iTouch and headphones so I have music to write by as well.

This works for exercise too, actually. When I went to my FIL's to visit last month, I tossed my BOSU ball in the back of the truck, figuring even if it rained and I couldn't go hiking in the middle of nowhere, I could at least get a workout.

And wildly enough, I not only got in two solid workouts, but wrote a couple chapters on the trip :-)

That, of course, is not the norm LOL.

Michelle Butler on March 12, 2010 at 9:55 AM said...

I really like patience, persistence and praise. I know I'm so much harder on myself than anybody else and have tried to ease back on that - praise may be even better than easing back. :)

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