Within the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.
All this week I will be releasing segments of an interview I conducted with fellow fantasy author, Connie Barrett. Have a look at her profile and books here.
Part 1 : Connie’s writing process
What inspired you to become an author? When I discovered that words could make magic that would take me to other worlds, I decided that I wanted to make my own magic. It was fun being a passenger on the fiction plane (and still is), but I wanted to be a pilot. If I couldn’t be an author I would be a clinical psychologist with a very offbeat practice. As it is, I counsel my characters (and often they counsel me).
How do you structure your day? I find that daytime hours work best for writing. Often at night, though, a lot of the inspiration and ideas come out, and sometimes I dream the answer to a plot or character question. I don’t have a chronological routine. When I’m writing—whether first draft or revisions—this will be my primary focus for the day. I usually save social media networking for the evenings. If I’m not working on a novel or nonfiction work, I allocate my time between writing blog posts, updating my web site, and various promotional activities.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Since 2000 I’ve been in an online writing group. The group is called Artistic License. It originated at Writers Village University but currently has no internet location. We have met at various chatboards and do a lot of communication by email. Membership has shifted over the years, but 5 core members have been together since that time. At present, it’s more of a support than a critique group. We adapt the group’s function to our needs. It would be safe to call it a sisterhood. The other members of this group have read and critiqued almost every work of fiction I’ve written. We hold each other accountable to certain goals that individuals set. Any member is free to ask for general or specific support. I feel that this group is my closest online family.
Before writing, do you plan your books? No, I usually start writing with a few characters in mind and an outline with plot holes the size of the Lincoln Tunnel. I let the story and the characters tell me what to write. The danger of this way of writing is that the inner critic wants to scream “Stupid idea!” I’ve learned to turn down the volume. Of course, a lot of what I write ends up being cut. Though it’s a painful process, learning to be brutal about this level of editing teaches detachment, so I can multitask writing and spiritual growth. After I’ve written about 40,000 words of a book, I go back and figure out what’s missing (usually a lot). I also often discover that some new characters snuck into the story when I wasn’t looking. At that point, I outline what I’ve written, talk to the new characters, and make extensive notes for changes and additions.
How do you decide on your characters? A good example is Big Dragons Don’t Cry, the first book of a series, A Dragon’s Guide to Destiny. I was in the Everglades and thought, “What if a dragon lived here?” An image of a depressed dragon came to me. Why was he depressed? Asking questions like that help me to learn about my characters. I may start off with something like: There should be a guy who’s emotionally repressed (also in Big Dragons Don’t Cry). What made him that way? What would ruin his day?
Do you have a special writing place? I write in my office, which is in the garage and very quiet.
How do you get over the fear of a blank page? Because I will, in the early stages, write total junk just to keep the process going, I don’t get blank pages. Sometimes I get stuck. When that happens, I’ll work on another project (I usually have at least two going) or watch cat videos until inspiration returns. I always trust that it will. Like countless cat devotees around the world, I am always learning from my cats. They teach me relaxation, enlightened self-interest, and the ability to play like a kitten without ruining it all by thinking I have to be grown-up.
In Part 2, Connie talks about how she promotes her books.