Bat out of Hell

All right, I’ll tell you my secret. You want to know how I produce books and travel as much as I do? You want to know the truth?

I don’t write. And then I write a lot. How much is a lot? Could be 75 pages a day, three days in a row. Could be 10 chapters in 6 days. Eleven chapters in 5. A book in a week. And stop–please don’t sit there and think, ‘Wow! That’s cool. That’s amazing.’ It’s not cool. It’s not amazing. It’s crazy, absolutely not healthy and potentially destructive. But it works for me because I don’t always write. And you’re thinking, she means she doesn’t always write like *that*, and no, I’m meaning I don’t always write.

Remember how I’ve said I write hot and cold? Mmm hmph. That’s exactly what I do. No writing, incredible procrastination, lots of reading, magazine skimming, catalog browsing, internet surfing. I travel, plan marketing programs, answer email, outline new workshops, have lunch, be with my kids, admire my new cover art, pretend my book is written, pretend my editor won’t ever figure out that I don’t need three months to write a book. Just ten awful endless panicked days.

Why am I telling you this? Because a good friend of mine, Australian Harlequin/Silhouette author, Lilian Darcy has given me permission to write the way I write, which is like a maniac. Lilian says this is simply the way I create. Fuming, stewing, avoiding, denying, pacing, stomping, ignoring…followed by intense concentration, a focus so determined and driven that I can and will work eighteen or more hours a day and think it’s only four.

Sometimes the writing I produce that way is really good, and sometimes its crap, but I’m learning that those intense mind dumps help me cut through the comfortable surface writing where ideas and story lines are familiar, to the more original, harder to reach stuff below. By going ‘deep into character’ for a week or two I live my book. The story is all around me, not just in my head waiting to be told, but sitting on my desk, crouching on a bookshelf to my left, sprawled on the carpet at my feet. I know this sounds mental–but by thinning the line between creativity and reality, fact and fiction, I eliminate the controller in me, that editor that criticizes allowing me to just do what I want, which is to ‘make stuff up’.

‘Making stuff up’ doesn’t sound very intellectual, and far from literary (but oh, do go read Ray Bradbury’s ‘Zen and The Art of Writing’ because his essays on writing are by far my favorite. This book is my favorite writing book ever.) but that’s how I get to the good juicy stuff. The good stuff is deep within us, buried in the imagination, tragically trapped and tamed. By giving oneself over to the writing process, you�re letting the creative beast free. You�re letting yourself free.

But that can be scary. I find it rather scary to just let myself �go�. To dig down into places�thoughts, emotions�that might not be proper. That maybe shouldn�t be thought, spoken, felt. But the taboo, the forbidden is exactly where the writer must go. Or at least, it�s where I must go.

The writer in me must be cut loose. Unfettered. Free.

So if you are a writer and you crave power and passion in your stories, or if you are a writer struggling to meet a deadline or just struggling to get the story from here to there, let me encourage you—go crazy. Be eccentric. Tell the world you’re busy. Tell everybody to go away. Then write. Write furiously, write intensely, write wildly, passionately. Write as though your life depended on it. Write as though the devil were after you and your feet are on fire.

Run. Run. And as you’re running you’ll see me running next to you. Like a bat out of hell.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.