And we reach the end of the excellent guest blog posts and interviews for the time being, and we end with a bang. The superb Keri Lake, author of the excellent Halos Book 1: Somnium.
The floor is all yours Keri.
…those annoying little forces that always seem to pop up when we’re smack in the middle of something important. If they’re welcomed, we call them ‘a shift in focus’.
I’m plagued by distractions.
As a flash fiction addict, it’s inevitable that my brain will wander off from time to time into the middle of a totally unrelated scene. Dialogue. A kiss. A fight. All completely random and usually out of place in what I’m writing at that moment. And since I never know when they’re going to hit, I can’t say they’re welcomed. Often times, I do my best to ignore them. I’m more of a novelist, preferring the long haul over the instant gratification of something short and sweet.
Completing a novel though, comes with its challenges and takes a lot of perseverance.
It’s not easy, sitting down to the same thing day in and day out, agonizing over every word (every 100K words, that is). If it’s a tough scene, it can be like sitting down to the same dinner every night for a week. Ugh. Do you even taste the individual flavors after a few days?
This is where the danger for distraction is at an all-time high.
When the ideas just aren’t flowing easily, you could become resentful toward your muse, bored with the writing and angry at the stubborn characters who refuse to cooperate.
Oooh look! A shiny!
And just like that, you’re swept away by something totally different…
But is there ever a time when these interruptions are a much-needed change in focus?
Back in December, I published Somnium (Halos, #1). This is book 1 of a trilogy, and unlike some writers, I didn’t have books 2 and 3 polished and ready to go. I’m still writing, tweaking, editing. I took an easy pace, since Somnium was riddled with a number of mysteries. I wanted to be meticulous about plotting and addressing the answers.
So there I was in January, not even a full month from the publication date of Somnium, toiling away on Requiem, when all of a sudden it struck me. Hard.
What was it?
Well, I’ll tell you what it wasn’t: it wasn’t just a simple flash story like most of my usual distractions. It wasn’t a short story, maybe forcing me to explore the characters a bit more. It wasn’t even a novella – just something to satisfy this ridiculous craving I suddenly had for distraction. No, no.
Call it nervous energy or a need to sate my inner badass, I sat down and drafted 100K-word book in about 6 weeks.
I hated myself for it. It felt as if I’d abandoned my beloved characters for some rockstar life. How irresponsible! The ideas poured out of me like I’d swallowed the evil pill and was having an exorcist moment. I cursed myself for being so easily tempted by my muse.
At the same time, I couldn’t stop. I’d become some kind of writing junkie, flying high on a winning streak.
I involuntarily plotted out additional books – eight of them! – making up an entire series of this foreign invader that’d taken over my brain. No!!!
A mutiny I tell you!
Ah, but alas, something else happened…
Something odd. Something wonderful. Something I hadn’t anticipated when I offered up my guilt-laden mind for this new project.
Feeding this distraction somehow bred new ideas for Requiem. Hot damn! That vigor trickled into the slow and easy pace I’d adopted for my second book of the Halos trilogy. And now the words are flowing like a fountain of…uh, words.
I dare not call the lull I experienced after publishing Somnium a ‘block’ because the story was there, waiting to be written (seriously you should see my writing wall – it looks like a murder investigation is going on with all the character profiles). For some reason though, I’d been working against myself, allowing it to stay locked inside a small cramped cage in the deep recesses of my brain, screaming as I held the key in my pocket the whole time.
Now that I’ve proven to myself that I can, in fact, write a decent story in a month’s time, my mind has grown hungry for this feeling of accomplishment.
Does this mean I intend to write a book every couple of months?
No, no. I’d be writing crap.
What it means to me is that there are going to be times when writing comes easy and times when no matter how hard I tug and tease, it’s not coming out. This experience has taught me to ride the high when it happens and not feel guilty if it takes me in new directions. When things slow down and it feels like I have no story left in me, to give myself the permission to surrender to these distractions, shift focus, and come back to the old and familiar when it feels right again.
What do you do when distraction hits?
Thanks Keri for taking over my blog and discussing something so central to so many of us writers. If you want to learn more about keri and her work: