I’ve been repeatedly asked, “how do I write while grieving?” I’ve written post after post about it. Five months ago, I lost my mom, and this month I lost both a friend and my younger cousin. My body is a flood of salt water and cookies.
A flooded, cookie-addled brain does not write good books. However, that does not stop the book deadlines. So now that life has given me a giant truck full of lemons,
how do I make lemon drops? how do I get words on the page?
What I’ve learned: Each week is different. I find that what worked for me last week will not work for me this week. The key is to keep working. I’m trying to stay on top of my game by rotating a “things that may help” list.
1) Podcasts. I’m a huge fan of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, Car Talk, and Romance Between the Covers.
Wait, Wait is the NPR comedic news quiz, where I get to learn about current events, listen to interviews, and study comedic timing. Truth is always stranger than fiction, so it’s definitely a character study.
Car Talk is a staple in my house as my grandpa worked with Henry Ford II, my Dad is a ceramics engineer for an American car company, and my husband works for an automotive supplier. This show is the right amount of terrible puns and hilarious advice. Car problems are wonderful things to give your character next time they need a good kick in the stomach.
Romance Between the Covers is a podcast featuring interviews with prolific romance writers who we all know and love. It’s a hoot.
2) Songwriting class.
I’m auditing a songwriting class from Berklee College of Music. This class is awesome because it helps me think about my scenes and how they change and flow into the bigger picture. Songs are set up like books – a three act structure that builds off of one central theme. The first act announces the theme, the second act expands on the conflict, and the third act has the twist and conclusion. Sound familiar? It’s great at getting the brain-juices flowing.
3) Walking in nature.
Since it is summer, walking outside is actually enjoyable! There’s something so peaceful about being around trees and bodies of water. I live in a city, so this is not a fool-proof plan, but it’s something I try to do at least once a week. Walking around and letting my mind drift will sometimes help me figure out a plot issue better than just trying to force a solution.
4) Forgiving yourself.
I haven’t figured this one out so much. I am constantly worried about not writing/editing that I beat myself up. I say, “LIFE IS TOO SHORT! I NEED TO GET THE BOOKS OUT!” Recognizing that there is a healthy and productive way to create art and that there is a negative and obsessive way to create art is super critical. If you’re being negative and obsessive, take a step back and refocus. Nothing good gets on the pages when you’re in that mindset.
5) Release your emotions into your work.
I’m not going to lie. My books are probably going to be dark for the next few months. Finding a way to convey what I’m feeling will be not only a cathartic release, but a way to immortalize the memories of my loved ones.
6) Hang out with your fans – even if it’s online.
I found out that I have fans recently. Like actual fans that aren’t my high school and college friends I’m giving books away to saying, “LIKE ME!” They’ve been WONDERFUL about reaching out and sharing how much they love my current book, Hunting Witch Hazel, and how they can’t wait for the rest of the series (due out this year). It’s great to know that my writing matters to someone. It helps me get out of bed.
This is what I’ve got so far. Hopefully, the funerals are done for the year and I can continue to focus on my writing. Be ready to cry.
Hunting Witch Hazel: Now available
I was happy with my West Coast life – 24-hour pizza delivery and bikini-clad bodies as far as the eye could see. Now I’m in the small-ass town of Hayvenwood to extract a ransom to save my little brother’s life. And that ransom is locked inside of the sexiest witch I have ever met, Hazel Evanora.