Hi! Okay, my question is: What do you do when you're feeling stuck with your writing? Do you have any specific things that help you get un-stuck, or just pushing through eventually does it? Also, do you tend to work on one project at a time, or do you like to have multiple things going at once?
Amanda, I'm the type who tends to push through. I know that really doesn't work for other writers, but usually by staying at it I figure out where the story goes next. If I get really stuck, I'll usually take a day or two off to get my mind around the issues. That usually helps. At times, I'll "take notes" on what I think will happen next. I say notes because it's not really outlining, but it helps be decide if the path is logical or not.If I'm really, REALLY stuck (which is rare), I may end up going back to the beginning and rereading what I have. Sometimes I've just gotten turned around in the drafting process, and seeing the whole story thus far helps me gain the right perspective.This is basically a long way of saying I fumble around until I find the answer:)
How do you find time to wrangle kids AND write books and make Thai food (awesome recipe, btw. Thanks!) and do all that other stuff you do? Because I don't have the husband or the kids, just the book, and there are days I have to do laundry to do laundry....
Elizabeth, I don't, really. I'm kind of doing a horrible job of finding the right balance currently. I still have a ton of edits to tackle before the baby comes, and my house is a mess, and I constantly feel like I've been given a garden hose to fight a forest fire. Mostly, I just do what I can. I find time where I can, and more importantly I use it well. You can make good progress with an hour if you determine to do so. And every step forward counts. For me, it's not about doing huge chunks of work at a time—you really don't have to. It's more important to be consistent in small amounts of work than to have time to sit for 8 hours and write. Every word, sentence, page, is a step forward. And eventually those steps lead to something finished.
Hi Natalie! Have you read/seen/heard of the manga/anime "Death Note"? I feel like you would enjoy it. I love it but I could be biased because my dog kind of looks like Ryuk. Have a good day! :)
Kathryn, I've watched the first few episodes of Death Note! I couldn't decide if I liked it or not, but I think that was because I was looking for something lighter at the time. It seemed very interesting, an ethical study of sorts:) Thanks for reminding me—I need to go back to it. Now that I'm writing something a little darker, it fits my mood.
Yeah, it's definitely dark (and Holy Paranoia, Batman!). If you end up enjoying it, I'd be curious to hear your opinion. Good luck with your writing!
My recommendation: Don't watch it, read it. My daughter got into it and loved it. I picked it up to see what all the fuss is about - it's really good.
Hi Natalie, thanks for this all day Q & A! I've been following your blog for awhile, and am always so encouraged by your posts! I am also very excited for TRANSPARENT to come out :) My question is in regard to critique partners. It seems like there are lots of great ways to find them - SCWBI, forums like Verla Kay, etc. - but I was wondering what worked best for you? Also, being a published author (yay!) and a mama, I have to imagine your life is pretty busy. What do you find works best for you as a critique partner? Do you generally read your partners' books only after the manuscript is complete or do you exchange sections as you go? I'm sure it probably varies a bit depending on the circumstances, but I just wondered in general what seems to work best? Thanks, Natalie!
Temre, I found all my crit partners online, so I guess that's what worked best for me:) But of course that's not what might work best for everyone, and I think it'd be harder these days than four years ago when blogging was new and everyone was really involved in it.As for balancing crits and time...I'm currently struggling with that a lot. I'm not sure of the answer. With my husband's work schedule changes, plus my kids being more demanding as they get older (NOT something I saw coming), I have less and less time for my own writing let alone others. It's so hard. I love reading for people, but I don't know where that line is. I think it's different for everyone, and I'm still trying to find the spot for me.
Thanks so much for doing this, Natalie! I love reading your answers.My question might be oddly specific... but how did you decide what tense to write your book in? It seems like both past and present tense have benefits and drawbacks... is it ever something you struggle over, or do you always write in the same tense?Thank you again!
Claire, interesting question! I have switched around on tense quite a bit in my writing, and TRANSPARENT was actually my first attempt at first present. It felt like the right tense for...strange reasons? Present has an immediacy to it, and is even more limited that first past, I would say. It felt like the story would work well in those tighter parameters. I've been writing a lot of present tense since then, and I know not everyone likes it but I do. Of course, it has to be done right. Just like any tense, there are things you have to learn and get used to. But I write in other tenses, too. I do have a project I mess with on and off that is third past, dual pov. It felt right for the story. I'm not sure WHY it felt right, but I try to trust my gut on those things. I don't think any pov is wrong, it all matters in how you execute it.
Natalie, blogger isn't letting me leave a comment, except as a reply, but this is a new question. What, would you say, are important elements of a chapter? What I mean is each chapter kind of like a mini-novel following a formula? Just curious what your take is!Thanks, in advance, for your fantastic advice!
Now it's letting me. Please refer to previous question about chapters.Thanks!
Emily, I would say the most important thing about a chapter is that it moves the story forward. A chapter, a scene, shouldn't be there if it doesn't contribute to the overall story. I like to think of it as a character entering a scene or chapter one way—and there being a change by the end. If the character hasn't gained any knew knowledge, or nothing has occurred to change their current status, there's likely a problem in that section. I hope that makes sense:)
So now that you are going to be published, are you thinking at all about branding yourself as an author? From what you have said about different projects you are working on, it seems you write in a lot of different genres. Is your agent or publisher encouraging you to choose one genre to focus on? Does this question make sense?
Liz, I don't like thinking of myself as a brand, and so far I haven't really been pushed by anyone to BE a brand in the way it's often portrayed online. That's not to think I don't have one, but I believe that "brand" is naturally portrayed through my writing. I may write all over the genre pool, but I can guarantee you everything I write is WEIRD. Yes, my "brand" is weird:)Personally, I'm more concerned with writing things I enjoy, and I'm willing to let everyone else figure out where that writing goes.
I know it's silly to ask (and late in your Q and A), but now that you have a book deal, and you're putting together the version of TRANSPARENT that your adoring fans will actually hold in their hands, do you find that your writing fears and anxieties have been eased? Have they gotten worse? or have you just traded them in for a whole new set of fears and worries?
I think more than anything it's a new set of worries. While it's SUPER cool that people will actually read my book, it's also SUPER scary! When the idea of reviews and opinions and blurbs and bookshelves becomes a reality, all that stuff feels so much more intimidating than the dream. I try not to think about it as much as possible:)There is this pressure, too. I mean, I am overwhelmed by the idea that there are people out there who say they want to read my book already—and more than anything I don't want to disappoint any of them! More than anything else, I'm afraid of disappointing those who have been long-time supporters of me.
I'm not sure if anyone's asked you this before; I didn't see this in the earlier questions for this post, so I thought I'd take a chance. What would you do if someone plagiarized your writing? That is, what would you do if someone lifted lines from your blog or your books and put it into their own work? How would you deal with it? One reason I'm asking is that even though I'm not a published writer, a few other people took lines that I wrote in my blog for their own writing.
Neurotic, I'm not really sure. I haven't come across it, but I imagine it would be stressful. If it were a few line that weren't credited, I might not really care. It could have been a slip. But it's kind of how it goes when I put my words on a blog for free. If it were a whole blog post verbatim? I would probably contact the blogger if possible and tell them what they did was illegal and ask them to take it down. If they didn't, well, that would be rough. If it were my entire book? I think that would make me the most upset. It would mean my work was really being stolen. That would be hard to deal with, but I'd notify my publisher and try not to freak out too much. Hopefully it would get taken down. It's hard in this internet world to keep your words entirely safe. I think we can try as hard as we can, but we also have to know that it'll happens a lot. We should be assertive about it, I think, but not completely enraged. Lots of people (as in those who are taking just a few lines), don't understand copyright law. It's sad, but true. And usually a polite email can get that taken care of. For those who are more brazenly plagiarizing, it can be harder to get through because they know they are breaking the law but they just don't care and they get away with it more often than not. Overall, I'm not currently super stressed by it. Only a little:)