Guest Blogger: Patrice Sarath
I know you guys are very interested in managing time and fitting a regular writing practice into your lives. So it is only fitting that my first ever guest blogger will be talking about how her passion for writing helps her get to THE END.
Patrice just had a book come out from the same publisher as me (Fog Season from Angry Robot). If you scan through her bio, you will see she is a prolific writer and a good person to learn from.
So here’s what I asked Patrice:
What advice would you give to a new writer who wants to write a novel, and may have started a project or two, but never finished a book?
First of all, this is really common so don’t feel bad. A new writer will get really excited about a concept, characters, setting, and dialog, and write one or two chapters, but then — the well runs dry. The writing that was so fluid the day before now is painful and stuttering. The writer sits down at the computer and nothing.
There’s no way around this; you just have to power through. First drafts are meant to suck, so do your best to turn off the internal editor (or as I call it, the infernal editor) as best you can. One of the best bits of advice I have ever heard is to just write 250 words a day. 250 words a day, and at the end of the year you have a novel-length work. 250 words a day can get you places. It can get you through the sticky parts and to The End. You will find you become eager to get to your 250 words. If you can do 250 words most days, you are doing something. Remember, first drafts are allowed to suck, but also be aware that nobody can write badly every single day. There’s going to be some good stuff in there.
Now here’s a bit of tough love. Commit. Commit to your story and your dream. You learn more from writing The End on a flawed novel than you do from all of the best novel starts in the world. Complain all you want, but when you embark on a novel, commit to finishing it.
Where and when do you write? How do you react if you have to miss a scheduled writing session?
This has changed over the years. I used to write most evenings after dinner and the dishes. Doing the dishes was kind of a meditative chore, so I turned it into a pre-writing ritual. Now, I may not write in the evening, but save my writing for the weekends, when I have long stretches of time. Or, if I can sneak time away from work, I love going to a coffee shop in the morning, and get my writing done then.
My writing is fairly unscheduled, so missing a scheduled writing session is more irritating than life-altering, but I also understand how it can derail people, so believe me, I sympathize.
How do you feel having a writing practice has helped you in other parts of your life?
It has made me braver. No means nothing to me anymore.
Which part of the writing process brings you the most joy?
Writing The End. What a sense of accomplishment. After a year-long journey on a novel, or the sharp emotional impact of a short story, I love the crescendo leading up to the end. I know a story is good when it lingers after I finish it, and I can’t wait to get to the redrafting stage. (I try not to redraft too soon but I’m also not very disciplined about that.)
Which part of the writing process is the hardest and/or the part you like the least? How do you barrel through it?
The blank page with the blinking cursor. Endings are hard but beginnings are harder. The words are all dammed up behind my fingertips. I make many false starts before I can get a true start down on the page. I write and delete, write and delete, get up and get tea, walk around, talk to myself, etc. If I walk away, usually that’s when I figure things out.
BIO:Patrice Sarath is an author and editor living in Austin, Texas. Her novels include the fantasy books The Sisters Mederos and Fog Season (Books I and II of the Tales of Port Saint Frey), the series Books of the Gordath (Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl) and the romance The Unexpected Miss Bennet.
Patrice is the author of numerous short stories that have appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including Weird Tales, Black Gate, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, and many others. Her short story “A Prayer for Captain La Hire” was included in Year’s Best Fantasy of 2003 compiled by David Hartwell and Katherine Cramer. Her story “Pigs and Feaches,” originally published in Apex Digest, was reprinted in 2013 in Best Tales of the Apocalypse by Permuted Press.