Monday, 25 April 2016

On Writing, James Patterson, And On Being An Authorpreneur


Writing and marketing are two aspects of being an authorpreneur, so this month, I'm sharing a few thoughts about both activities.* 

On Writing and James Patterson's Master Class

Neither talent nor desire can be taught, and time may reveal your talent doesn't match your ambition. Nonetheless, while studying those who are more successful is no guarantee of achieving the same triumphs, it can stimulate ideas or show you more effective methods. Hence the decision to take James Paterson's online writing masterclass. Now Patterson is a genre writer, as am I, but there the similarity ends. He is a highly successful prodigious novelist, and I, well… I'm a writer in search of readers, and looking for ways to be more productive.

The point I'm discussing today from Patterson's class is the same writing advice as that given by Randy Ingermanson of the 'Snowflake' method: the first step is to plan, and to plan well. The more detailed the outline, the easier it is to get on with the business of writing. I know authors discuss whether they're pantsters or planners (see the Featured Post in the side bar), but if you want to go from A to B as efficiently as possible, you follow a map. Even if you like the scenic route, without a map, you'll take wrong turns and undoubtedly arrive later than you expected. Not that the latter isn't enjoyable, and as no one size fits all when it comes to putting words on the page, the choice is yours.

For me, composing a first draft offers freedom without anxiety or fear (that comes later!), and is one of the joys of writing. I find seeing a story, which previously existed only in my head, come alive on the page is a thrilling experience. Taking time and enjoying that creative process is, without doubt, one reason many people prefer not to outline. My previous experience when working this way has been that, although I had character, setting, premise and even an ending in my head, I always came to a point when a gap appeared between the middle and the end, and I had to stop and decide how to bridge that space. Spending time on outlining eliminates this difficulty. 

Another effect I noticed when outlining was that as the details became clearer, the urge to stop planning and begin working on the story increased. But I resisted the pull, and by the time I'd finished the outline, and was ready to knuckle down and start writing, I was really eager to get going. I also benefited from spotting a few plot flaws and character weaknesses and dealt with them before I'd invested too much time and effort going in the wrong direction.

I began outlining the third and final novel in my paranormal urban fantasy trilogy, Samsara, on January 1st, and finished the first draft on the 13th April. This was a little behind schedule as despite budgeting in regular breaks–both from writing and social media–I came unstuck in the penultimate chapter. The problem wasn't the story line; I'd simply not given myself sufficient detail, and kept pausing so I could figure out my protagonist's next physical action (after all, Armageddon takes more than a passing sentence or two). I took a week and a half to write that chapter. Enough said. Lesson learned, (thank you, Mr. Patterson), and book three is now resting in a cozy corner of my subconscious.

On Being An Authorpreneur

The aspect of being an independent author and publisher that daunts me is the marketing. I do read as much as I can about the topic (I find Joanna Penn gives excellent advice), and continue to learn, though it often feels as if I'm blundering blindfolded through a room chock-full of people, half of whom are also floundering as we drown in our own good intentions. 

I'm full of admiration for those who effortlessly flow from one social media site to another and still find time to write their novels. However I recognize my limits, and as an introvert, promotion isn't an occupation that suits my natural inclinations. Reviews, email lists, giveaways, blog tours, interviews, competitions, and the ongoing advertising of the current book, all devour precious writing time, and prioritizing means there's always something that slithers off the end of the list. 

On the positive side, marketing means I'm out there in the electronic/digital world, which is often enlivening, and I gain energy and encouragement from engaging with readers and other writers. My latest pet project is looking for inspiration (aware that inspiration can only carry me so far) and advice on how to follow through on my PR resolutions.

* An authorpreneur (aka writerpreneur) is defined as someone who builds a business by writing and marketing one or more books.

Writing Update

While the WIP is resting, I had planned to continue revising my science fiction nano novel, which has been on the back burner for a while. This has been through the ProWritingAid grinder, and is ready to read with an eye for those mistakes which have slipped passed. However, I had a light bulb moment, and instead have decided to write a novella, which will be the first in a trilogy. I've written a brief outline and am expanding this into a more detailed one. My thoughts are to initially publish the three novellas, and later on, possibly release them together in one book.  I'm seriously excited by this idea as one my goals is to increase the number of books I publish, and this offers the possibility of achieving that, as well as the enjoyment of creating new characters and their exploits. Watch this space…

Today's Haiku  
pink cherry blossom
and yellow gorse in bloom speak
of Spring's sweet caress

Useful Links:
If you're interested, here's the link to James Patterson's Master Class http://bit.ly/22Z6vRa
Joanna Penn has a host of resources available on her website, and a visit to her website is a well worthwhile investment http://www.thecreativepenn.com/
Randy Ingermanson's Website also offers a wealth of helpful advice: http://bit.ly/1rsoR1Y

If you're a Wattpad member, I have several short stories posted on the site:

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.


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Apart from writing, I'm compiling a bucket list of places I'd like to  visit...from Iceland to Hawaii and onwards....
         

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