Writing is such a lonely job.
That was what I was told anyway. Sure, parts of it are but since I started writing in 2010, I’ve built up a fabulous network of like-minded souls who I can call on when the need arises.
For instance: when I first started my first book, I lived out in the middle of the desert in Queensland, Australia. We were miles from anywhere – two-day drive to the nearest big town – and our tiny town had limited resources for most people, let alone writers. I took online classes but found I didn’t really learn an awful lot because they weren’t necessarily aimed at what I was writing or the style I needed to use.
Then I joined Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America. At last! People who do what I do. Who knew there were so many writers out there?
From there, things moved quite fast. I entered competitions, found great editors and got my first contract. Then I got another one and things snowballed!
But here is what I’ve learned along the way.
My writing process has changed – a lot.
Before I would happily tell you I was a pantser. That means I write by the seat of my pants. I didn’t plot anything. It wasn’t how I worked at all. But more books a year meant I had to be more organized, especially when it came to writing series.
Now when I get an idea, I let it ferment in my mind. Perhaps I’ll write myself a few pages of notes. A chapter or two at most gets done before I pull out the big guns: these are my critique girls, both of them successful writers. The same girls I meet up with for plotting days and can call upon when I have a plot knot or something doesn’t go right for me. If anybody is going to tell me my writing sucks or the plot doesn’t work, it’ll be these two. They’re also the girls who I meet for coffee for no other reason than I need a break away from the office. But rest assured, plotting always, always gets a look in whenever we meet up.
I’ve also learned to be more organized and keep notes. My office wall has plotting boards for each book which I add to when I think of something. Some stories get plotted well ahead of time, four or five books even. I need to know the character I had in book one doesn’t become someone else by book three or I don’t use him again in another series. The more books I write, the more I need to keep them in line.
With the Watson brother’s books, I plotted the first four stories simultaneously because the characters reappear in each book. The bride in book four, Her Favorite Cowboy, is the legal brain in book two, The Sheriff’s Mail-Order Bride. Heaven forbid I should get these characters mixed up.
I’m always on the look-out for a great easy to use program to keep everything sorted but so far, have found post it notes on a board seem to be the best for me.
If you have any great ideas, I’d love to hear them. You can find me at http://www.annbharrison.net
After moving to the lush green wine region of Australia’s Hunter Valley, Ann has the perfect surrounding to let her imagination to run wild. She alternates her time between writing western romances, women’s fiction romantic and playing in her garden.