GIVEAWAY: One commenter will receive a signed, first-edition copy of today’s profiled novel, Wallflower in Bloom, (plus a flower hair clip so you can read it in style), to be chosen at random next Tuesday. Good luck!
Therese here. I’m so pleased to bring you today’s guest–master class writing teacher and bestselling author of nine novels, Claire Cook. (And writers, here’s some inspiration for you: Claire wrote her first novel at age 45, mostly in a minivan while her daughter attended swim practice!) Claire’s latest book, Wallflower in Bloom, released just last month. Already in its second printing, Wallflower in Bloom is a June Indie Next pick and a Simon & Schuster’s Something to Read About book-of-the-month-club June pick. What’s the book about?
Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound.
Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun.
Irresistible and offbeat, Wallflower in Bloom is an original and deeply satisfying story of having the courage to take a leap into the spotlight, no matter where you land. (Read an excerpt HERE!)
Claire isn’t a prolific author by accident; she finds time to write, and works to protect it. Here are a few of her best tips.
Protecting Your Writing Time – And Yourself
Every day, your life bombards you with perfectly legitimate excuses not to get your writing done: sick kids, leaky roofs, roots in desperate need of a touch-up. A text beeps in just as you’re getting into the zone. You Google-research one little thing and get sucked in for two hours. You remember you haven’t posted on Facebook all week. A brilliant Tweet comes to you like a vision. You know you need a platform, but if it comes at the expense of your writing, the whole house of cards collapses.
So this is how I do it: When I’m writing a novel, I write two pages a day, seven days a week. My deal with myself is that I’m not allowed to go to sleep until I finish them. No matter what is or isn’t happening in my life, I can find a way to write two pages. I have to paint myself into a corner so I don’t cheat – I write the page numbers down on a calendar so I know on a given day that I have to write, say, pages 131 and 132. I can finish a draft in about five months this way. (And then the real work of rewriting begins, but still, I’ve got that lump of clay on the table and I can start tweaking it into shape.)
I write early in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up, because I find that the longer I procrastinate, the harder it gets. And I don’t allow myself to check email, Facebook, or Twitter before I start writing – they’re my reward for finishing my pages.
Here are five more things I’ve learned along the way that I hope might help you on your writing journey.
1. Rise about the negativity. People told me I couldn’t get published without connections. I didn’t know a soul. Lots more people told me the Must Love Dogs movie would never be made. Long shots happen every day. Believe in them. Believe in yourself. And if there are people in your life who aren’t supportive of your dreams, dump them if you can. Or at least stop sharing your dreams with them.
2. Work your butt off. It’s tough out there, so make it a point to always do more than the situation requires. I did this when I was trying to break in to the publishing biz, and I continue to do it on a daily basis. I meet every deadline. I dive back into a manuscript again and again and again – whatever it takes to make the novel I’m working on as good as it can be.
3. Be who you really are and write the book only you can write. The buzzword these days is branding, but I think of it as authenticity. Being a novelist is the first job I’ve ever had where I wasn’t pretending, or at least trying to pretend, to be a slightly different person. Who I am and what I write are totally in synch. There’s tremendous power in that.
4. Remember karma is a boomerang. This is the truest thing one of my characters has ever said. Many of the great things that have happened to me (including a Today Show feature!) were triggered by something nice I did for someone else. People talk; your actions determine what they say. So do something nice for someone and set that boomerang in motion.
5. Don’t wait around for someone else to make it happen for you. You’ve got the power to make your writing dreams come true. The Internet is a great equalizer – everything you need to know about the world you want to conquer can be found online. Research. Network. Create an online presence. And most of all, write on!
How do you protect your writing time?
Thanks for a great post, Claire! Readers, you can learn more about Claire on her website, and by following her on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a first-edition copy of her latest novel, Wallflower in Bloom. Write on!
Photo courtesy Flickr’s Brandon Christopher Warren