When people hear I'm a professional writer and published author, they often look at me as if I have just told them I dissect aliens at a lab.
Typically the next thing they ask is, "how do you do it?"
No matter our pursuits, whether hobbies or a new career path, it does require some major restructuring and mental fortitude. You have to get over people giving you their opinions on why you should or shouldn't do it. You have to be a self-motivated, disciplined human being. You have to give yourself deadlines.
In other words, you are making a commitment with yourself long before you have signed a contract with anyone else. For me, the path to my fourth novel, Something New, took many twists and turns, including who would publish it, changing the title four times, and changing all the names of the characters. (I decided I wanted them to be prince/princess names from history.)
Mostly, though, the path requires the daily walk of word count, going up the tough hill of revisions, picking apart your book and putting it back together stronger than it was. I completely understand why so many novels go unwritten or unfinished. It requires stamina and an extreme amount of mental energy. You are giving your life and imagination over to another world. Which is why, whether or not you are participating in NaNoWriMo, these tips are things that help me go from idea to finished novel.
- Planning, prep and passion. I know at least the vague outline of the characters and beginning, middle and end of the story before I write.
- Rest and good health. I can't write (well) if I'm sick or tired so I try to keep a healthy lifestyle. Seven to eight hours of sleep, healthy food (bananas, almonds, peanut butter, greek yogurt, lean protein), take my vitamins, a daily walk and daily yoga and meditation. I wish I could say I drink a lot of water, but I don't. I try to avoid sugar because who has time for a sugar crash? I'm far from a health nut, but if I eat junk, I feel junky so I try to avoid that.
- Coffee. A nice dark roast or espresso with cream. Iced if I'm writing in the afternoon.
- Daily and weekly word count goals. I commit to creative work in the morning so I can take advantage of the caffeine stimulant and "fresh brain" and save promotion work for after. I don't stop until I've hit my word count goal, which means I have to start on time, turn off the Internet and any other distractions. During NaNovember, I shoot for 2k per day so I can give myself some wiggle room if I miss a day and still can hit 50K by the end of the month.
- Put it away for awhile after it's finished. After the first draft, put it away and work on something else for a bit. When you come back to it a few weeks later, you are likely to see things with fresher eyes. What was missing, what should be cut, and have a more clearly defined goal for the story and fleshing out the characters. The pretty prose part can come in the third draft after I feel like the story is where it needs to be.
Mostly, I think you have to love what you do, even if it is difficult. I write because it's a challenge, not because it's easy.
About Something New:
What if you were sure you lived a different life?
Three generations of women. Four secrets. One stage.
When matriarch Maeve Apple receives a letter in the mail that Princess & the Pauper is being remade, she believes she's 25 again and ready to relive her stardom. Meanwhile, her daughter, Bess, is dealing with Maeve's dementia, her own divorce and planning her youngest daughter's wedding, on the Luxe Weddings reality show. Bess' eldest daughter, Kelly, has a secret of her won that could threaten her chance at love again. Curvy Gwen, the youngest, may be the star of Luxe Weddings, but she finds her heart belongs on the stage, attracted by the lights and her co-star, as they search for Maeve's long-lost pauper and the biggest secret of all.
Praise for Something New:
“Something New is something wonderful! Malena Lott understands love…and knows that it’s ageless. Exploring the lives of four women and one barely functional family, she delivers a novel of remarkable wit and insight. This book is a treasure.”
—Ellen Meister, author of The Other Life
"I am completely smitten with Something New: it's endearing, romantic, and utterly satisfying, with characters so well-developed they feel like old friends. Maeve steals the show, but I missed them all when I reached the end. Highly recommended for mothers, daughters, granddaughters, and sisters."
—Jess Riley, author of Driving Sideways
“Utterly charming, romantic, and beautifully written, Something New is the story of three generations of mothers and daughters struggling to define their relationships and to ultimately find their own place in the world. I absolutely loved it!”
—Maria Geraci, author of A Girl Like You
About the author: Malena Lott is a den mom, a dance mom and the author of The Stork Reality, Fixer Upper, Dating da Vinci and the popular beach novellas Life's a Beach and The Last Resort and several published short stories. www.malenalott.com
Something New is available in trade paperback and ebook at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.