Switch-Hitting

- by Charlotte Hubbard

I hit the Send button for the first book in my Naomi King Amish series on Thursday before Memorial Day, May 26th. Tuesday, May 31st, after I took my visiting sister to the airport, I wrote the first words of book #2 for my Charlotte Hubbard Amish series—not because I want to burn my brain at both ends, but because I have only three months to write this new book. Schizophrenia is our friend! And once again, necessity is the mother of reinvention—or at least a catalyst for a very quick flip of my mental switch.

Intuition helped me through this turn-around, and since I don’t really have time to quibble or navel-gaze, I went along with what my Inner Writer told me to do. Maybe these tips will help you in a similar situation—and maybe they’ll compel you to comment or reveal your own tips and tricks for switching mental gears on the fly.

My Naomi King doc was barely on its way through cyberspace before I replaced the collage for At Home in Cedar Creek with the faces who got me through my very first Amish book in the Seasons of the Heart series. Yes, it helped that I’d already written a brief synopsis for AUTUMN WINDS, but translating four pages of ideas into 320 pages of real book is a LOT easier when those familiar characters are once again gazing at me from above the computer, reminding me why my butt’s in the chair—visually leading me back to this community and these lives so I won’t write about folks in that other series by mistake.

That day I also wrote out my weekly page quota chart: I figure how many weeks I have for a book, block out the weeks I’ll be at conferences, have company, etc.—and build in about three weeks at the end for rewriting– and then divide the number of pages I need into the weeks I have to write the main draft. This time around I’ve got to write 40 good, solid pages per week, which is very attainable…but I have no time to foo-foo around or get behind! My chart is taped beside my computer, and I mark out each week’s page goal as I reach it.

I figured I’d want a new soundtrack for this book, because I’d about worn out the two CD’s that got me through ABBY FINDS HER CALLING (John Bayless’s Bach-ish renditions of Elton John, and a very simple, eloquent album of classic hymns by pianist Richard Dworski of “Prairie Home Companion” fame) I ordered four new CDs by Lori Line, again instrumentals of mostly hymn tunes—but surprise, surprise! Something was telling me to write my draft very quickly on my iPad, first thing after the morning dog walk, and the music was getting in my way. So I don’t play any.

So–I have also changed locations and methods: I take my iPad and keyboard to the table on the deck, weather permitting, or to my library table, and I work very intensely at composing as many pages as I can for the day. Then I email it to myself and copy it into the main, ongoing draft on my Mac, editing a bit and filling in whatever blanks I left while I was cranking out words.

No more staring at the big screen, wondering what to write next! (And yeah, no more wandering online or checking email when I stall out…) I have no idea why, but suddenly I can sit down at my iPad and pull the words out of thin air with very few notes—and not a lot of effort! I’m sure it helps that both series deal with Old Order conflicts and characters, and that I’ve now written the first book in each series so I have a base line from which to draw future stories. But I really don’t know why this is working for me now—and I don’t question it! Two weeks into this project, it’s going very well, my heavy lifting is done early in the day, and while I make my page quota I also have time off for Real Life in the afternoons—and that hasn’t happened for a long while.

Lots of you writers have your own ways of getting the words down and getting the books done—how do YOU do it when you’re especially pressed to complete a book faster than usual?? Enquiring Minds would be happy to read your comments here!

If you’ve read this far, BLESS YOU…and if you feel so inclined, please check out my brand new Naomi C. King author page on Facebook and Like me! Now that I’m writing for a new editor and house, they’re prompting me into more online promo, so I really appreciate those clicks on my page—and will soon debut Naomi’s new website, too!

My best to all of you as you write or read—or however you spend your summer vacation!

One comments

  1. Hi Charlotte
    Like you, I’ve recently made beneficial changes in my writing habits. One of those changes is to write first thing each morning – after taking care of the dog, so it sounds like our routine is similar!

    Another thing I’ve found helps is asking myself a specific question related to my manuscript before going to sleep. I might not have an exact answer when I wake up, but the answer seems to come easily during the morning writing.

    Looking forward to reading your new series!