How We Write: Creating through the crazy…

“How do you keep a writing schedule like that, ” one of my weekend students asked, “when you’re editing and teaching and everything else? How do you know you’re going to be able to write, when you sit down at your desk every day?”

My answer–I don’t know if I can do it, until I do it.

Then again, I don’t let myself up from that desk, until I’ve found a way to plug into the muse, the creative inspiration, that will take me a step or two closer to realizing my dream for this new book, the way I have for all the other ones that have driven me equally crazy. Crazy, you understand, having become my natural state, so it’s not so strange a thing to be asking myself to dig deeper into the crazy well, whether I feel like it at that moment or not.

crazy live your life crazy

I love talking with small groups of authors, many of whom aren’t yet writing on publishing deadlines. Their energy is kinetic, frenetic, and contagious. They’d do almost anything to make their stories better and sellable and one step closer to being published. No matter how busy their lives are, no matter how much trouble they’re having with everything else, these hungry writers are dying to get back to their books and their critique groups and their creativity and make something happen on the page. 

I need to see that as often as possible, which is what makes weekend events like the one I just taught with my literary agent–and the first pitches I’ve officially taken for Entangled Publishing ;o)–exactly what I need when I’m too mired in my own impossible deadlines and creative low spots. Because fresh, energetic, wanna-be-published-at-all-costs authors like the ones at Carolina Romance Writers have just as much of a message for me as I do for them. Their very existence begs me to answer the question faced by all published authors who can’t find the inspiration to write when they know they need to to meet their current deadline: Why can’t you direct your creativity now, and get the words on the page now that you’re under contract, the way you did when you were hungry and eager and dying to be published, just like these hard-working women? Hmmmm???

crazy sketch

There are a lot of answers to this very important question, and none of them easy to discover or accept. And a lot of unpublished authors have creative draughts, too. It’s a very individual journey, learning to direct your creativity and harness it into productivity, even when you sometimes feel there isn’t any point, or when the voices in your head have gone quiet, or when you doubt that anyone will ever give a damn about anything that you’re writing. But that doesn’t make it any less our job, to learn how. Which is what I teach when I do my drafting workshop–a bit of which I touched on while talking communication skills over the weekend.

Because I think the kind of inspiration we all must have, as creative artists who want to be successful commercially and finanicially as we practice our art and reach our readers, is the kind where we’re communicating with ourselves that there IS hope, and there is a kick-ass story to be told, and there are characters we need to bring to life so others can see them. And when you’re not-yet published, I sometimes think it’s easier to see just those things–the heart of what you want to do–rather than the make-it-or-break-it success we all seem to think we need to become once we’re offered that first book contract.

Yes, once again, I’m talking about fear, and the complete mind f**k it can do on us, as artists, if we let our negativity, rather than our love of story, take over.

crazy smiley face

When we’re scared, our direction goes out the office window and our emotions lock the keys on our keyboards and we see failure instead of opportunity with each new idea we attempt to embrace. When we think we’re going to fail before we start, as is so easy to do once someone is actually expecting you to succeed, our minds often protect us by simply refusing to start doing whatever we’re feeling threatened by.

Sound familiar?

So, my advice today is simple: don’t write that way. Don’t live that way. Don’t see your writing that way, whether you’re on book contract or still dreaming of having one.

Harness the positive crazy inside you instead. The hopes and dreams and impossible expectations for yourself that have inspired and driven you to get this far. You want to see the world in your own unique way, and you want others to see your world, too. You fee more alive when you write, than you do almost anywhere else in your life. You create because you can’t stop, not because you don’t want to fail. You will keep creating, even if every opportunity that could slip through your fingers actually did go away. So, create today, and don’t care so much how strange that makes you or what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Direct your creativity, yes, to produce something tangible in your story that will inspire you to even greater creativity tomorrow. Challenge yourself to write, even when you don’t feel like, just as you did when you were first starting out. But not because you’re afraid of never making it any farther than you have already. Challenge yourself to create, because your life is better and your heart feels lighter and your mind opens just an inch more, every time you do.

On my hardest, craziest days, that’s what keeps me writing, I told my weekend students. My love for the story and the words and the characters that I feel inside me and want to see you feeling, too. That’s why I’ll write today, and tomorrow, and every day between now and my next scary deadline.

crazy love graphic

Love what makes you crazy, my friends. Because the crazy’s not going away, and neither is the drive to write. Might as well buckle down and get to work!

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12 Responses to “How We Write: Creating through the crazy…”

  1. Jenna Patrick says:

    Thanks Anna for all the great advice this weekend! It’s easy to get caught up in the business and forget why it is you write and what you’re trying to do. Our discussions this weekend truly put me back on the track I had intended to be on.

  2. Christine says:

    I needed this post today. It’s the interminable waiting that is getting me down. I’m in the “close but not quite there” stage of writing. Lots of requests. Lots of people I’m waiting to hear from and lots of well-worded “we love everything BUT” rejections. Sigh.

    So this is a good post for me to get over myself and just write.


    • I understand completely, Christine. I’ve been there so many times. Even for stretches of time after I first published.

      My only usable advice, I’m afraid, is to keep focused on what you want to write and how to make it the best it can be, while keeping an ear open for what the market is wanting and how you can show those who are buying that you’re EXACTLY what they’re looking for.

      But above all else, stay inpsired and creative and writing. And hopeful. Without hope, the fire of all the rest is too easily extinguished.

  3. Great post, Anna! Thanks! This was perfectly timed :)


  4. robena grant says:

    I love your advice. As a prolific but unpublished writer, all I can say is there is a sense of freedom in writing what you want to write when you want to write it. You can create your own adventure.
    A lot of years ago a well known writer advised me to use this unpublished/not-on-deadline time to explore exactly what it is that I want to write. What makes me happy and most creative. I laugh, because I think I’ve written one of every sub genre of romance except a vampire story. Maybe that’s up next. : )

    • Robena, I spend my “warm up” each day (free writing, typically in my blog or my private journal), reminding myself of that very thing–what is it I’m wanting to say or do or communicate, that will make me keep wanting to write no matter what direction this crazy journey takes next?

      Keep making the “happy” happen, along with the crazy!

  5. Heather McGovern says:

    I hate I missed seeing you at the CRW meeting, but this post is so true. Even in the drive toward publication, I sometimes lose sight of why I love writing so much. It takes diving into the story (and sometimes a pep talk from my crit group) to reignite the love. If you fall out of love, you got nothin’! :)

    • We all lose sight of what originally drew us to this inner-focused world of ripping our dreams out of ourselves and showing them to the world.

      We can all get back to it, one intentional day at a time, if we embrace the art and the creativity and the inspiration, no matter how hard the “work” part of this always turns out to be ;o)

  6. Desiree Holt says:

    Wow! Very well said, as I sit here wrestling with my current WIP. I’ about to kick myself in the butt and dig our my positive crazy. Thanks for a great blog.

  7. Thank you, Anna, for a post that came at a much needed time.

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