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
When 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.
Marin’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.