How is writing a book like skinning a cat?

Grace under pressure buttonNew year’s is always a time for reflection and planning. I love setting goals and planning how to get there. I love to research how to do those things well.

The trouble is when those who know can’t seem to agree on the right way to do something.  In fact, so much of the advice to writers is contradictory, it’s crazy-making.

How Many Ways to Skin a Cat?

Yesterday in the span of an hour I read one article that talked about the difficulties of writing full time and that writers should take advantage of the few perks of he fob, like the flexibility to work odd hours and being able to write in one’s pjs.

Doesn’t it just figure that the next article read–something along the lines of Bunch of Stuff I learned about Writing from Other Stuff I’ve Done touted the critical importance of being fully dressed and made up for work and keeping strictly regular work hours. And of course one’s work must always be finished before one consider doing anything else.

Sigh. Really?editor cat is not amused

Then there is the great outline debate.

To outline or not to outline, that is the question.

I confess, I am an organizer and feel something all warm and fuzzy when I look at a 64 cell table,  that another expert recommends, filled with story scenes to lay out a perfectly crafted story.

Trouble is, put a blank grid and pen in my hand and I literally can’t breathe! My mind goes entirely blank.

I want to do things that way. I really do, but it sends every creative cell in my body into reverse!

And we won’t even talk about what happens when I look at all the blank character dossiers I’ve collected. The gorgeous charts with every possible detail of a character’s life included down to favorite songs and astrological signs.

Good writers do those, right?

If it weren’t for other voices out there, like the expert who says trust your creative voice and just write, I think I would be in utter despair. After all, that’s how I discovered Lydia was an artist in Mrs. Drummond’s School for Girls, and that was pivotal to the whole story.  

More than one way to get from here to there

The right waysIt seems like for every expert who says this is the right way to write a good book, there is another who insists the opposite is the right and true way to do it. What’s a writer to do?

For me, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to follow the advice that resonates with my gut. I’m intuitive in the rest of my life and I’ve learned to trust my gut, so that’s a good indication that I should write that way, too.

So this year, I’m going to try to do exactly that, starting with New Year’s resolutions and plans–or rather without them.

Instead of lining out the specific plans and goals I have for this year and driving myself to the edge trying to make them all happen, I am going to focus on writing stories, the ones that are begging to be written with characters who won’t leave me alone until I tell their tales. Stories that make me excited to write them, and hopefully you guys thrilled to read them.

I have Austenesque stories chomping at the bit to written, but also some entirely new projects that I hope you will be willing to take a chance on, too.

In short, I want 2016 to be a year of the best stories and writing I can possibly share with all of you.

Here’s to new goals, new stories, and new ways to skin a cat!



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