Author Crush Month: Marin Thomas

In the process of reading several Harlequin American Romance books to understand the line I want to write for, I kept finding Marin Thomas books and thinking, “Hey, I really like this one.” Over and over. It didn’t take long before I decided – she is one of my new favorite authors! I wrote and told her I had an “author crush” on her, and she agreed to be our guest today. Yay! I hope you find her writing routine encouraging.

In addition to taking the time to talk with us today, Marin has graciously offered to give away two of her books to our readers! Leave a comment below and Marin will draw two names to send one of her backlist titles to at the end of the day. Thanks, Marin!

The Loosey-Goosey Writing Routine by Marin Thomas

December 2009 CoverWhen Kitty invited me to blog at Routines for Writers, I was excited.  Pumped.  Eager to share my writing routine.  Then I sat down to type up the blog and thought–do I really have a writing routine?  Yes, I decided.  I do have a routine, but it’s evolved through the years.

Early in my career with Harlequin my writing routine was rigid, inflexible and mentally stressful–X number of pages per day and I wouldn’t quit until I met my goal.  Extensive outlines for each book–broken down chapter by chapter and scene by scene. (I shake my head at the amount of time I spent brainstorming and writing outlines)  After I wrote the book, I followed a strict revision routine.  First, I addressed my critique partner’s comments on each chapter.  Next, I printed off a paper copy of the story and marked up the pages with colored-coded highlighters (red = conflict issue, yellow = character problem, pink = setting details etc.)  Next, I typed in the “colored” changes.  Lastly, I began my final read on the computer–often I took two passes through the book before I turned it in to my editor.

In the beginning, I benefited greatly from a rigid writing routine because I didn’t have any confidence in myself as a writer.  However, the more books I wrote, the more my confidence grew and I began to trust my writing instincts.  Also, with the help of my editor I learned how to better craft my story to fit the American Romance line–something I wasn’t able to pick up through online classes, conferences or how-to books.  Each novel I finished reaffirmed my ability to write a story from beginning to end and eventually my rigid writing routine gave way to a new, more relaxed process–the Loosey-Goosey.

What exactly is the Loosey-Goosey writing routine?  It all starts with the synopsis.  I cover the main turning points in the story but that’s about it.  Gone are the chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene outlines.  Once in a while, I jot down an idea for a scene that happens later in the book, but I rarely go into details.  I no longer worry that I’ll miss an important plot twist, character flaw or opportunity for character growth–I trust my writing instincts to harvest those “moments of brilliance” and release them on the computer screen as the story unfolds.

Getting rid of X number of pages a day takes the pressure off my writing and helps my creativity.  If I become stumped (perhaps because I didn’t plot out the scene in detail) I walk away from the computer.  During this downtime, ideas are simmering in my subconscious and by the time I’m ready to write the next day, I’ve figured out the problem in my story.  In the past, I would have remained at the computer and tried to fight through whatever wasn’t working.  The next day I would have deleted the pages I’d forced myself to write–frustrating and a waste of time.

The Loosey-Goosey is now the only way I can survive my writing schedule.  My routine keeps me grounded, but it’s loose enough to allow for creativity and interruptions.  I average three books a year and their revisions, line edits and author alterations all overlap the writing of the next book in my contract, making it impossible to stick to a set-in-stone routine.

My Loosey-Goosey routine:  I set monthly goals and weekly goals.  Daily goals are allowed the greatest flexibility.   I try to write two chapters a week.  My monthly goal is to try to write 7-8 chapters.  My books are usually 14 chapters, so I try to write a book in two months–in reality it takes more like two and half months, sometimes three–kids, vacations, family emergencies and life in general gets in the way.  That’s okay, because it’s those disruptions that allow my writing brain to ferment and relax and that’s what keeps my writing fresh.

The Loosey-Goosey isn’t for everyone, but if you’re struggling with your writing routine and falling short of your goals, you might want to try the Loosey-Goosey for a month to see if it helps your creativity and output.

MarinMarin’s latest release, A Cowboy Christmas (Dec 09) is still available through online retailers.  Her next book, Dexter: Honorable Cowboy (July 2010) is the 2nd book in the Harlequin American Romance line’s first ever six-book continuity– The Codys: The First Family of Rodeo. You can find out more about Marin’s books at www.marinthomas.com

Marin also sponsors a WILD WEST Trivia Contest in her monthly Newsletter. February’s trivia question: Who is the only woman known to have robbed a stagecoach? If you know the answer, sign up for Marin’s newsletter at www.marinthomas.com for a chance to win an autographed copy of one of Marin’s books.

24 thoughts on “Author Crush Month: Marin Thomas”

  1. Hi Marisa & Kendall–thanks for stopping by!

    Marisa–I don’t know what I would have done without all those How-To books that sat on my desk early on in my career, but getting lost along the way of writing a book is sometimes a very good thing–you might come up with a unique plot twist etc. Who was it that said you write the first draft with your heart and the second with your head–good advice!

    Kendall–sounds like your creativity comes out best when it isn’t penned in. Embrace your style because if you fight it–your creativity, output and voice will all reflect that–and not in a good way. Best of luck on your writing projects!

  2. Must confess I’ve never read one of your books, but stumbled on this post via twitter.And glad for it.
    I have always suspected what you call the Loosey-goodsey” way of writing is more akin to my personality. I’ve tried the forced days, the forced schedules – not for me. So thanks for saying what my instincts have been whispering all along.

  3. I’ve read other writers who call it by the seat of your pants style, but calling it loosey-goosey is better! More fun.

    You opened my eyes to something. Writers who are not yet truly confident may need all the rigidity that strict routines offer. I’m one of those. Not truly confident, however, I don’t write or follow outlines.

    Now, it may be better for me to be more ordered when I write but every time so far, I don’t know the total story until I’ve written and revised. Then I’m pleasantly surprised. So maybe loosey goosey is my style!

  4. Jeanmarie & Diana–thanks for stopping by!

    Trusting our writing instincts evolves over time and the number of books we write. Isn’t it fun when your writing instincts take over and you write something great in your story that just came to you out of the blue?

  5. Hi Marin,
    Thanks for sharing your writing schedule. I caught myself nodding. Okay, I’m still a bit stricter, going through critiques and stuff, but I’m with you, I listen to instinct ALOT now, have grown to trust myself a ton.
    Keep writing your fabulous stories. I’m so proud of you, you totally rock! *Hugs* ^5

    Diana Cosby
    Romance Edged With Danger

  6. Hi Marin and Kitty!
    I enjoyed this blog so much. I too have found that I don’t need to write the detailed synopsis any longer, and didn’t for my last book. Great points Marin. I love that you step away from the pc when you reach a road block. It makes sense. Sometimes the best ideas come to me while I’m washing the dishes or taking a walk. 😉
    I love your books and have them all, as you probably know already. 🙂 Can’t wait for the next one. Happy Valentines Day! *Hugs*

  7. Yay for Cattitude and Kristen! And thank you so much for joining us, Marin! What fun it is to make new friends! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  8. Congratulations Cattitude and Kristen! Your names were drawn from the hat tonight and you’ve both won a book from my backlist. Please contact me with your full name and snail-mail address at marin@marinthomas.com and I’ll put your book in the mail ASAP.

    Thanks, Kitty, for having me as one of your guest bloggers during author crush month–it’s been a lot of fun getting to know you and chat with our posters today.

    And Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

  9. An earthquake?!! What is the world coming to over there?? LOL! I lived in that area for 25 years and never even HEARD of an earthquake!!!

    I think I should stop complaining about our summer heat and humidity here in Sydney.

    On the other hand, there must be a lot of writers thinking up crazy story plots right now! Airports closed because of snow in DC, earthquakes in Chicago – it’s ripe for more disaster porn! LOL! (I just heard that phrase after the last disaster movie. I think it’s hilarious!)

  10. Hi Kitty

    Not only did I manage to weather the Chicago snow but we had a 4.3 earthquake this morning that rattled the house. I thought for sure a plane was going to land right on the roof 🙂

  11. Hi Marin!

    You made it through the snowstorm! Yay! I’m so excited to have you here! I LOVE your books! Thanks again for joining us!

    Patricia, I’m also trying to find a middle ground for my writing routines. I think I might have found it! I’m trying it out this month, and I’ll write about it next month. I hope it works so I can share a potentially good method with you!

    Thanks for being such a welcoming bunch, everyone! I wish I could give you all some of the brownies I’m making. But in any case, it’s great having us all together here!

    Love and Hugs! 🙂

  12. Hey, Kristen & Taja–thanks your your comments!

    Kristen, glad you liked my hero Logan–I thought Cassidy was a good match for a guy like him.

    Taja, I agree, we are our own worst critic when it comes to our writing, but we have to keep in mind that we can’t please everyone with every story. I never want to disappoint my readers but I’m realistic and know that not every book I write will connect with every reader who buys it, but I do my best to please!

  13. Thank you for sharing your story. A lot of good advice especially the route to becoming a more confident writer — we’re often our own worst critic.

  14. Hi Marin! Thanks so much for sharing your writing routine. Now I won’t feel guilty if I don’t stick to my writing goals each day. 🙂 Also, I love your new book. Logan is such a stud!

  15. Hi Stormy–thanks for dropping by. Whenever your writing hits a rough patch, it never hurts to shake up your routine and never feel guilty about failing to make your page count or wod count for the day. The more relaxed you are when you sit down to write, the more productive you’ll be and the better your writing will be!

  16. Marin,

    Thank you so much for sharing your writing routine with us today. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with holding myself to a rigid routine and I found your advice incredibly inspiring and refreshing!

  17. Hi Patricia–thanks for adding your two cents! You’re right about a writer needing to develop confidence and out of that confidence her or his unique writing routine will evolve.

    Whatever rotuine a writer settles into, it should contribute to creativity and not hinder it.

  18. Just when I was trying to add structure to my writing routine…

    No really, for me, I think I have to find some middle ground. I’ve tried Loosey-Goosey, and as a relatively new writer, it doesn’t work so well. I’m not as productive as I’d like to be. On the otherhand, the thought of very restrictive routine — x pages or hours per day, scene by scene outlines, etc. — makes me cringe and probably only serves to keep me away from the keyboard, as I know I’ll never live up to that.

    The most important thing you said, I think, is about developing confidence in one’s writing ability. Writing routines will evolve over time. A confident writer will do what is best for her, rather than what works for someone else.

  19. Hi Nance–thanks for stopping by! I can see the potential for humor if the heroine is over six feet and the hero is under six feet 🙂

    You’re right about outlining strong goals when you’re a beginner writer and I think even experienced writers can benefit from going back to that practice when they switch genres–until they get comfortable again.

  20. Hi Marin, this is a really great post. I agree completely with the way you do things. In the beginning it is good to outline and set strong goals because it forces you to really think about what you are doing as a writer. Then as you get more practiced loosey goosey helps with creativity.
    I agree with Cattitude, too- you should write an elegantly tall athletic heroine like yourself and let everyone know the kinds of troubles it creates–like not wearing four inch heels or finding jeans off the rack.
    Cheers~ Nance, who loves your books.

  21. Hi Cattitude–thanks for stopping by! Gee, your comment made think about my heroines. I guess I do write a lot of petite women–maybe because my subconscience wishes I was a smaller gal who could buy clothes right off the rack in stores.

    Samantha in Samantha’s Cowboy was 5’9″. And the heroine in Ryan’s Rennovation (The McKade Brothers series) was a stockier polish woman with a big nose 🙂 You’ve given me something to think about when I write my next book –thanks for the comment!

  22. I love your books, but it seems like most of the main characters are petite women. Being a tall, athletic woman like you are, and being an average woman myself, I would like to see more average build females in the main roles that I feel I can relate to. Is there a reason you seem to lean towards smaller framed women? Are they better selling main characters?

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