Writing Past the Stress

- by Karen Whiddon

As a professional writer, the longer I write and the more books I contract, the more difficult it is for me to find that sweet spot, the creative flow that is sometimes referred to as getting in the Zone.

Most times I’m on deadline, trying to make a certain word count goal, and I keep hearing this nagging internal editor complaining about what I’m putting on the page (or screen in my case)

I’ve tried all kinds of things – reading other authors, timed writing, doing things that nourish my creative self, and exercising. What I have to do is force myself to let go and write, knowing yes – it might be unadulterated crap, but it’s fixable.

For me, timed writing has been the best at helping me do this.

I took a workshop put on by Candace Havens called Fast Draft and Revision Hell. I committed to writing an amazing amount of words a day and would set a timer and write. I actually made my goal more often than not.

Now I did have to go write on my Alphasmart, so I wouldn’t be distracted by the bright and shiny internet, but I did it. And, to my stunned astonishment, the work I did during that time wasn’t garbage. Yes, I needed editing, but doesn’t everything?

Since I’m currently under contract on a punishing delivery schedule, I hadn’t been able to see the way to writing that uncontracted, out of my genre, book I’ve been promising (or threatening) my agent that I would write. Now, maybe there is hope.

I have a book out this month – The Cop’s Missing Child, a Online story going live at eharlequin.com on 9-17, and another book out October 1st called The Wolf Princess.  And more scheduled for 2013 and even beyond.

A busy writer is a fed writer, you know?  So I have to keep plugging away, making each new story fresh and exciting to both me and the reader.

You know how it is – you’re a writer too.  So now I want to know your secret. What tools do you use to get in the zone and produce usable words?

One comments

  1. I’m not on a deadline (yet), but I kind of do the timed writing thing. When I did my first nanowrimo, I found I could make my quota by writing for two solid hours a night. (I had to have a darned good outline, though.) Also, the lady at Pretentious Title has tips for how to write 10k a day–plan it, be excited about it, and have a slab of time to write it in. I’ve been using those technique. What flows out isn’t perfect, but it has that energy of something I wrote that I enjoyed.