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Interview replay now available

If you missed my appearance on John Hruby’s Author To Author Convo live last month, the replay is now available on YouTube. It was a fun (and rare) opportunity for me to talk about writing separate from Scrivener (though we did touch on Scrivener a bit too, of course).

One of my favorite things was getting to discuss the importance of figuring out how YOU best create. As a pantser who spent years trying to contort myself into the plotter I thought I had to be to be a good writer, I’m trying to get the message out.

We also discussed how to “fill the well” so you can keep writing, why story structure is helpful even if you don’t plot, and more.

If any of that sounds interesting, check it out and let me know what you think. 

Spilling my writerly secrets (or something). Live on Saturday!

What are you doing on Saturday? If you’re not sure yet, consider joining me live as I take the hot seat on middle grade author and life/creativity coach John J. Hruby’s Author to Author Convo series! 

I’m not sure I’m as confident as he seems to think I am (see below), but I love talking about writing almost as much as John loves ellipses…

Are you ready to join us? To learn more about what John has planned for the interview, and get the RSVP link, keep reading. I hope to see you there!

Gwen Hernandez name

P.S. Scrivener peeps: The Scrivener 3 for Windows Compile Mastery course opens this week! Expect another post from me very, very soon. 😉

There is a solidness … a quality of ownership … that Gwen has about being a writer and an author. I don't sense it as ego. She is kind, fun, and generous. I look forward to you meeting her.

To me, it seems like she “knows who she is” and she's comfortable in her skin.

This is EXACTLY the type of author I want to talk to … and learn from.

And, this makes 100% sense to me. Gwen has written seven books. SEVEN. I look forward to our Author to Author Convo and Q & A on Saturday, July 17th. I invite you to join us for a lively and in-depth conversation about writing and the spirit of creativity.

I anticipate we will have an opportunity to learn a lot. I look forward to exploring how she:

  • Taps into inspiration (year after year … book after book).
  • Gets herself unstuck from procrastination & distractions … so she can write.
  • Creates and talks to her characters … and do they talk back?
  • Plots her stories or do they just “come to her” … or a little of both?
  • How she got started … what gave her the confidence to write her first book?
  • What keeps her going when times get tough?

I look forward to asking her:
What is the best writing advice she has ever heard that continues to serve her today?

Author to Author Convo
Saturday, July 17, 2021
10 am Pacific / 12 pm Central / 1 pm Eastern

Click Here to RSVP Now and to join us for a lively and inspiring conversation about creativity, inspiration, and productivity.

The Author to Author Convo series is created with the intention of Empowering Writers and assisting all of us with experiencing our next level of Creative Freedom and Productivity.

New year, old process

This is the year I start owning my writing process. Quit calling it horrible, or slow. Embrace it.

This is the year I recognize that doing it my way has helped me produce nine manuscripts, six published novels, a 400-page published work of nonfiction, dozens of short stories, over 250K words of blog posts, and more.

Where the “magic” (usually) happens.

My process may not be as fast or organized or glamorous as others’, but it works. And it’s mine.

My messy process is actually kind of fun too. And the more I go with it, the more fun I have, the more ideas I get, and the more I want to keep writing.

Why would I fight that? Why would I fight with myself?

So, in 2021, I’m leaning into it.

Finding the joy in it.

Finding myself in it.

Whatever your pursuits, I hope you’re able to do the same. Happy new year!

1st Draft done and a Scrivener post

🎉 🎉 🎉

The first draft of book 6 in my series is done! There are few things that feel better than finishing a book. Especially since this one took longer than usual, for no discernible reason—other than maybe a few world events messing with my concentration…?—and it feels great to have the hard part done.

Now on to revisions, edits, copyedits, book cover… Look for Blind Trust in October!

For my Scrivener fans, check out today’s post at WriterUnboxed.com about features in Scrivener 3 that make finding your projects easier. As always, I’m answering questions, so I hope you’ll stop by!

How to fail at writing

 

Quote by Thomas Edison, "I have not failed. I have just found 9999 ways that do not work." in blue lettering on white.

I’m all for the idea that failure is merely figuring out what doesn’t work, finding out where you need to focus your energy, and that it’s an important part of the learning process that we often stigmatize to our detriment.

However, I really wish my method for producing a novel didn’t resemble Edison’s light bulb-inventing process as much as it does. I’m mainly a pantser—a seat-of-the-pants or “organic” writer—who doesn’t plot my books in advance. (Believe me, I've tried.) For a logic-oriented person who likes to make lists, and plans just about everything else in her life, this is disconcerting, irritating, annoying, and a long list of other synonyms.

For my books, I have learned that I need to understand what the antagonist is doing and why, or I won’t get past the first quarter of the book, no matter how exciting my initial premise. Without the villain's goal and motivation, I can’t figure out how to escalate their actions against the main characters in a way that makes sense.

I also need to know the inner conflict between the hero and heroine (what’s keeping them apart), and the outer conflict (what’s keeping them together). The latter usually relates back to the antagonist/villain, so it’s all linked.

In order to determine these things—because even when I think I have them, I usually don’t—I must write. I write scenes (or partial scenes), discard them, write new ones, repeat. Every scene (or set of scenes) is a method for testing an idea. It also spurs my subconscious to go to work on the story in ways it just won't if I'm only sitting around thinking or making lists of ideas.

Eventually, I do nail it. (Hopefully, it doesn’t take 9,999 times!!) And once I have the early stuff figured out, the rest of the book comes together much faster. Not fast exactly, but faster.

So, if you've ever wondered why it takes me so damn long to write a book, mystery solved.

I’m slowly learning to, well, not love, but at least work with my method. Honestly, I feel lucky I have a process at all. I’m writing, so life is good.

How about you? Do you have a process for writing—or anything else—that frustrates you, but ultimately works?

Dictating your manuscript for increased word count (and reduced pain)

dictation headset overlaid with blog titleToday, I wrote almost 1700 words in less than an hour. More precisely, I dictated them. While working out on the elliptical at home, no less. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love efficiency?)

Are they perfect words? Hardly. Do I have a scene that I didn’t have yesterday? Yes!

I’m still amazed at how much I can progress if I dictate instead of typing. I think it works for me for a few reasons.

I can be in motion. I don’t have to sit, my hands don’t have to work, I can even do things like fold laundry or chop vegetables (though usually, I just walk around or get on the elliptical).

I can produce words without typing. I started dictating because all the time I spend on my computer was exacerbating my tennis elbow (from snow shoveling in my Boston days). Talking instead of typing gives my overworked arms, hands, and fingers a break.

Standing on the cross-trainer wearing my headset with an hour of dedicated time ahead of me forces me to think out what has to come next in the story and just get started. It's similar to doing a writing “sprint.”

Also, like a writing sprint, dictating means I can’t edit as I go. This is huge for me, because I tend to write a few paragraphs, edit them, write a few more and so on. Very slow and inefficient, especially since I often end up completely changing or even deleting a scene later. Yes, the words I produce during dictation might be ugly, but I’d have to edit regardless of how I produced the scene in the first place.

If I lose my place after a long pause to think, I just start from what I remember and fix it later. If I have an idea for a change that needs to be made to an earlier section, I add it in parentheses and keep going.

Okay, but it can't be all perfect, right?

It's not. There are a few drawbacks.

I’m reluctant to dictate if anyone else is in the house.

I sometimes feel like I haven’t accomplished anything because I wasn’t in front of a computer. I can easily get over this one. 😉

When I’m done dictating, it often feels like very little has happened in the story, and yet I’ve laid down a surprising number of words and moved things forward. And when I read it, the scene is usually much better than I expected.

Despite the overall positive aspects of dictating, I still sometimes have to force myself to start. I’ve associated writing with being on a keyboard for such a long time now, that changing my process so drastically is an adjustment. I think the adjustment is worth it.

Have you ever tried dictating instead of typing? What was your experience. If you haven't tried it, would you?

My Dictation and Transcription Process

I dictate to an iPhone app called PureAudio Live Recorder, which is super easy to use and currently only $5. From that, I can download the .wav file via Wi-Fi to my computer and have Dragon transcribe it. I save the transcription as an RTF which I then import into Scrivener.

I'm using Dragon Premium 13 for Windows, but I write on a Mac, so I save the RTF to Dropbox so I can import it to Scrivener on my Mac (File>Import>Files).

Where to Get Help with Dictation and Dragon

A good place to find more info is the dictation group on Facebook called Dragon Riders. Start with the pinned post at the top, which has a collection of the most commonly asked questions and their answers. The group has great info on how to get started, the best equipment, best practices, troubleshooting, and so on.

For more help, you might try Scott Baker's books The Writer's Guide to Training Your Dragon and Quick Cheats for Writing with Dragon (free on Amazon). I haven't looked at them yet, but have heard good things from people in Dragon Riders. Apparently, Scott also offers classes.

{Edited 8/18/17 to include my process and additional resources}