It took me a while to figure out my process. It wasn’t there in the beginning so I was unaware of writers having a process, just like I was unaware of a specific formula for historic romance. Only the love of the story and me wanting to discover where the story and characters were “going” was present.
As this beautiful gift unwrapped before me, I began to realize certain things that I loved about the act of writing itself. I loved, first of all, sitting down every day to write. The most fun I have is what I call first-drafting, when I open up and let the story be born. I’m sure that’s not the correct grammar, but it’s how I describe it. For example, I knew the second novel in the series Wild Rose and the Horseman, was going to center around Ellen, Eva’s daughter with Victor her first husband, of her growing up and coming of age in the 1900’s and 1910’s. In the first novel we discover she’s a brilliant girl and wholly determined to become a doctor more than a decade before the 19th amendment was ratified. That was all I had established when it was time to start. There were other stories I wanted to continue from Eva and the Irishman as well, but the story was mainly about Ellen.
Now, after five years plus of continuous writing, it became clear to me that when I’m in the act of writing and advancing the story, I am the characters. I seem to transcend what’s going on around me. I block out everything, including whining dogs, a loud, soon-to-be ex-husband, and giggling teens. I enter a world that’s as real to me as the one around me. It doesn’t matter if I’m first-drafting or editing. I am the characters. They determine where the story goes. It’s akin to meditating, I kid you not.
What does she do about writers’ block? It does happen. I learned early on from Julia Cameron that one’s creativity is similar to a filled well. When I’m using the creativity, the well slowly empties. It’s quite noticeable when it comes to the bottom. At that point, I step away. I either literally get up and go away from the computer to engage in something else in the house, go shopping, watch a show or a movie on television, or go to the beginning of the story and begin to edit. It doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I walk away from the point where the well emptied.
Most important, I do not fret. I don’t even call it a block. Getting upset about it is about the worst thing a writer can do. The second most important thing is I keep the belief that my well will refill while I’m away from the story, and … I MUST TRUST THE PROCESS! I trust that my creative well will fill again.
I remember first-drafting in novel three entitled Wild Rose Ranch, focusing on Eva and Liam’s children’s coming of age. I came to the bottom of the well not knowing where their youngest child’s story was going to proceed. Well, I walked away, spent some time doing other things. When I sat back down a good deal of time later, I still had no idea where the story was heading. So, I put my fingers on the keys and I simply began typing. I trusted the process and sure enough, the story continued. I was flabbergasted with that. How could the story continue with me just putting my fingers on the keys? It happens all the time now. It’s a very high place to be.