The most important part of my writing rituals include consuming massive amounts of espresso and clearing my mind of outside stuff. Not easy. Today I wrote at one of these ADD-style bowling alleys with 100 blaring TV screens and and my four kids. They bowled and ate expensive hamburgers. I wore noise-silencing headphones and wrote. This is far from perfect, but the hardest thing for me is when someone talks to me, when my head is already talking to me, so the busier I can keep the kids (especially during summer!), the better.
I write seat-of-the-pants, but I know my theme and my main characters starting out. After chapter one, all of it changes, and I’m left to follow. So my rituals include staying in the book for a very long time, wondering what my characters will decide. Sometimes, just like if I have to make a big decision, I have to learn about their struggles from books, websites, interviews and find out what they’d decide. (I’ve read three books on demons and two on faith for this one!) That’s what slows me down the most. I also try to immerse myself in great reading when I’m in a book. When I’m not writing, it’s People Magazine, Us, and other mind-numbing fare like that. But during the book, I love to read about four books at a time (one in the car, one in the bathtub, one in bed, one on the back deck.) Research books do not enter the bathtub. That is sacred.
If I get off-track and lose the character, I start from the last two chapters and edit, edit, until I know why I’m stuck. Right now, I’m stuck because I’m not sure how the ending should play out. What’s the setting of it? Who is there in the scene? How do all the characters play into the final scene? If I still am lost, I waste time until it comes to me. This is the hardest thing about deadlines, I’m stressed about the deadline, but the perfectionist in me, can’t let it go. I’ll often go to Angela’s recommendation here and look over my “Writing the Breakout Novel”. Here’s just a few of the recent time-wasters while I’m waiting for my Kelsey to come back to me:
- I plastered the ugly lava rocks on my fireplace and painted them to look like river rocks (it looks better than it sounds.)
- I sold old furniture on Craigslist.
- I downloaded eleven 80’s tunes on iTunes.
- I wondered if the guy on “Flipping Out” is really all that strange.
- I ripped out my pantry shelves and installed new ones.
- I played with my new Cutco knife set.
- I fought the dog in the yard for one of my vacuum cleaner attachments.
My, how I wish I could plot. But I never, ever, ever stick to a synopsis. I figure if I know how it will ends, so does the reader. This is not a cost-effective measure for a full-time writer. The espresso bill alone will kill ya!
Kristin Billerbeck graduated San Jose State University with a degree in Journalism & Mass Communications (emphasis in Advertising), gave her life to Jesus during college and found her true love in a Christian Singles’ Group. She’ll be giving away a copy of her upcoming book, Back to Life: A Trophy Wives Club Novel. You can visit Kristin on the web at http://www.KristinBillerbeck.com.