2000 Like Giveaway – by Lisa Swallow

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To celebrate hitting 2000 likes on Facebook, Lisa Swallow has arranged a fantastic giveaway, involving plenty of amazing authors and bloggers.

Follow the link below to be in the running to win ebooks and amazon gift vouchers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Writers’ Ritual

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Strange creatures, writers. We live half our lives in imaginary worlds, investing our emotions in characters, and devoting long hours to their stories. We work in isolation, sometimes we’re eccentric, occasionally aggressive and always passionate about what we do.

That’s why we have strange little rituals—habits we’ve developed over time—a list of things we require in order to make the magic happen. Force a writer to break a ritual and you will face their wrath!

There’s a reason for it. Writing is hard, it requires a great amount of mental energy to get into the ‘zone’ and stay there. Most rituals are focused around the development and maintenance of this ‘zone’. That’s why sleeping until 11am is a ritual for me. I’m not kidding. It’s really important. If I wake up earlier on a set writing day, I’m too tired to be inspired. And while I may spend the first couple of hours lazing around, I need that time to reach a state of reflection. It’s the warm up, the stretches before the marathon.

Eventually I settle down to write, and the next two hours are the worst. I’m still forcing away random thoughts that pop into my head, repeatedly checking facebook, and casually reading over the last chapter I wrote. For me, this is where the ritual plays the biggest part.

I need to be in a quiet place, it’s seems dramatic but sometimes even hearing footsteps as someone walks past is enough to break my focus. It’s tempting to open the door and scream at them, but I don’t because it’s rude and I’m a rational person—still, it’s frustrating.

Instead, I use my ipod to drown out the sound of voices in the distance. The music has to be the perfect pace, preferably dark, almost depressing. For me violins are a great muse. I can’t explain it, but I love them. TV on the other hand, forget about it. That will take me right back to square one.

It’s also important to have supplies at hand; drinks and snacks, remote controls for anything I might want to turn on or off, and a bed for the dog to sleep by my feet.

Once my surroundings are exactly how I need them, I position my body in the right place. Don’t ask me why, for some reason I write better when I’m lying down. Sure, I can do it sitting if I have to, but head on a pillow and laptop resting against my knees, seems to work the best.

Two hours later, and I’m finally there—the zone. Four o’clock right through to midnight is my prime time. That’s when everything comes together and I’m really glad I slept enough to last until that time of night.

These are things I’ve been doing subconsciously for years and have never given a second thought. Until recently, I always had plenty of writing time, and the ritual was a by-product rather than first step. I used to see posts from other authors talking about how difficult writing was, but I never saw it that way.

These days my life is pretty fast-paced and writing time is always running low. Now when someone asks me if it’s hard to maintain focus, my answer is—absolutely!

Not because I lack inspiration or motivation, but because life is full of distractions, and the less time I spend writing, the harder it is to find the zone. But the love is as strong as ever, and hardship only makes the achievement more satisfying. You just don’t want to be the person who opens my door at 4pm.

In the words of a writing friend, ‘we’re like serial killers, we need rituals.’

My Secret Weapon

download (3)Well there’s no denying it, writing a novel is hard work. I spent so long editing the Shadow Series that to some degree I forgot what it was like to actually write a novel, after all it has been a few years since I finished the last one!

There’s a lot of hard work, even when you have an outline for the story, things change. Characters get in the way, you realise something’s missing and you need to change directions or suddenly you discover a major plot flaw. To be honest it’s one of my favourite things about writing a book, I almost feel as though each little speed bump is steering the fate of the novel to a place it was always meant to end up. I’ve heard so many authors say it, and it’s absolutely true—you are just a vessel, the characters tell their own story. And the challenges make the accomplishment worth so much more!

In saying that, it does take determination to work through the pitfalls. There’s nothing better than sitting down with your laptop and letting the words pour out, but it isn’t always like that. There are times when you just sit and stare out the window wondering how you’re going to continue. The key is to never give up, even when the writing’s bad and the story sucks you just keep going, rewriting until every little piece fits together.

Here’s where my secret weapon comes into it.

People often ask how I find the motivation to write novels, for me the answer is quite simple—once I start, it’s harder for me to stop than it is to continue. I have an inability to leave any project unfinished, I’m not sure if it’s extreme motivation or just plain OCD. But I’m not complaining. Once the first chapter of a book is written, I’m following it right to the end. There are a lot of authors who have a few stories on the go, they work on different ideas and write new material while they are editing something old. This is pretty useful to distance yourself from a story but I just can’t do it. When I’m working on something I have to give it everything and there’s no space for anything else in my head. Without this little quirk in my personality I don’t know if I’d be a writer, it’s my driving force; the thing that keeps me going no matter what obstacles get in my way.

Who could wish for more right?

Well everything must have balance and this little obsession carries over to the rest of my life. No matter what I start I can’t leave it undone! Even if it’s a huge time waster. My examples might break a few hearts but I have to say it … Game of Thrones, I know everyone loves the TV series but I don’t. I hate it in fact, the characters are awful, I can’t relate to them, I don’t like the setting, the list goes on, but I had to watch the entire first series even though I knew I hated it after just a few episodes.

And a few years ago I subscribed to a movie magazine. I found myself reading every single article word for word, even the ones I wasn’t interested in. It was so time consuming, and I was barely absorbing the information but I couldn’t stop. It took great effort for me to acknowledge there just wasn’t time in my life for this magazine once a month.

Even when I’m reading a book, this little quirk looms over me. If I hate what I’m reading I have to finish it. It’s ridiculous! Sometimes my reading slows to a page a night but I can’t move on until it’s finished. Recently I attempted Anne Rice’s Violin, I made it halfway and decided this obsessive follow through had to stop, I hate the book! But even as I write this blog it sits on my shelf taunting me. All I have to do is resist the urge to pick it back up, eventually I’ll have to forget about it right?

What can I say it’s a blessing and a curse, my secret weapon. But reading things I despise and watching hours of bad TV shows is a small price to pay! OCD in a writer … maybe not such a bad thing.

 

Here’s a little blog about the labour and love of writing a novel.

Here’s a little blog about the labour and love of writing a novel. Let’s start with the labour … Everyone knows books don’t write themselves, it’s hours and hours of someone sitting alone in a room. I’m lucky I can … Continue reading