Ann B Harrison on Writing

Posted on behalf on Ann B Harrison

My fifteentCoastal_3_finalh book was release the other day and as I looked back over the last five years, I gave myself a pat on the back for being so determined to succeed and sticking to my guns even when the chips were against me.

When I started writing, I struggled with setting, characterization, POV (I still have days when this confuses me) and dangling modifiers. I took the comments and vivid colors slashed across my manuscript from my editor as part of the learning process and tried to do what they said. No point in being precious about it, they after all, are the experts and I was merely beginning.

I ran the gambit of publisher verses self publishing and after trying both, I find I’m  happier being my own publisher. Not saying I’ll never dip my toes in the publishers pond again, just not at this moment.

One of the comments I get often is, ‘You’re so lucky, being able to write fulltime.’Grady_CVR_LRG

Yep, I am. But that took a lot of work, a lot of early morning starts and late nights. You see, when I first started writing, I was working the same as anyone else. I did family day care from home which was a bonus. But along with that came the longer hours because I mainly cared for kids that came from mining families and they worked long shifts.

I would have a house full of joyous or screaming toddlers, depending on the moods and who got the swing first, babies who needed to be handled more than the others and parents coming and going at all hours. To top it off, I worked three nights a week at the local supermarket and every Saturday. Sunday was my only day off.

I was a busy person, no doubt about it. But you know what? My first two years writing, I managed to get twelve books out. Six with a publisher followed by six I self published. And if you’re thinking that many books a year can’t be good, two of them were ARRA finalists. Not bad for a beginner.

So, here’s the thing and the reason for this blog post. The ‘You’re so lucky’ bit. We are all pushed for time. I was and you probably are too. But if you have the dream, you have to feed it to keep it alive. You would be amazed how many words I wrote while those little darlings were having their afternoon nap. I generally bash out around one thousand words an hour. (My typewriter skills were learnt early on J). I would get up that little bit earlier so I could do a couple of pages before the kids arrived. Last thing at night I would knock over another couple of pages and Sunday – well, after family that was when things got hectic.

Hidden_CVR_LRGIf you have the dream, you’ll find the time and if you’re a procrastinator, you don’t have the want enough as far as I’m concerned. Someone once told me that all excuses are equal. It took me some time before I took that on board, but they were right. An excuse is just that, regardless of how good you try to make it.

The other thing I get asked about is writers block. Slap! Slap!

No such thing! Get over it people. Your brain works 24/7. It never sleeps so how is it possible to have writers block? The truth of the matter (IMHO) is you don’t like what your brain is coming up with. It hasn’t gone on holiday. Your muse isn’t missing. You just aren’t listening. Do you think that Nora Roberts gives into writers block? Hell no. Her famous saying is ‘You can fix a bad page but you can’t fix a blank page.’ If you worked in the supermarket, would you tell customers to go away and come back later because you didn’t have your checkout chick skills happening right now? No! You would do your job.

Some days I struggle getting my characters to talk to me but I push ahead anyway. I might write crap and it feels like pulling teeth to get those words on the page but I do it. Just try it and see. When you go back and look at it a week later, you might surprise yourself. I’ve written some great pages this way.

Excuse me while I go and get lucky some more with my characters because I haven’t finished my word target for the day and this blog doesn’t count toward it. See you after my 2k is done and dusted!

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