The Process

How I Developed My First (Finished) Book

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It’s Friday again and that means I’m back writing about writing. Though I spent the week editing, I’m still thinking about if and how my story works. And as I read through this book for the hundredth time, it reminds me how it came to be a story that I’m proud of (hint, it took a ton of rewrites and many all-nighters). So as the editing process of my first book comes to an end and I start to get emotional because of sleep deprivation, this is the process of how my first book developed from an idea into a 90,000-word story (without giving away too much so you still might buy it.)

*Sorry if you thought this was a recipe for cinnamon rolls because of the picture* Continue reading “How I Developed My First (Finished) Book”

The Process

Your Novel Year Update

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Yesterday, I had my first meeting with my mentor to discuss the first chapters of my current project. I haven’t been writing much these last couple of days since I’ve been preparing for a visit from my friends from out of town and because I’ve been feeling kind of stuck writing this book. But my discussion with my mentor helped give me the boost that I needed to continue.

Continue reading “Your Novel Year Update”

The Process

How Psychology Helped Me Be a Better Writer

Even though I decided not to go to grad school and pursue being a clinical psychologist, I haven’t given up on what psychology has taught me. I spent the last four years sitting in various psychology classes learning from the different fields and throughout each class, I couldn’t help but think how these different facets would be great if I put them to use in a book. I was even inspired to write a book while I was trying to copying down diagnostic criteria for my abnormal psych class. When I was sitting there trying to get everything down before my professor switched slides, that’s the moment I realized that I had to get serious about writing. Because instead of worrying about the looming test, I was thinking about the character I could create knowing these diagnostic facts.

The personality psychology class I took my junior year made me think about characters in a new way. In previous writing classes that I’ve had, the focus on creating characters was filling out a profile. Simple facts like name, date of birth, family members like parents, siblings, cousins, etc. and their relationship with them, hometown. As well as focus on physical characteristics such as eye color, hair color, body shape, skin color. And then, of course, where they fit into the story and how they react to the situation(s) and other characters happening around them.

Of course, personality psych was mostly different measures of personality and how good they are at revealing personality traits and characteristics (The Myers-Brigg test, btw, isn’t great). But besides those various tests, there was one section of the class that stood out to me was when we talked about if there are ways personality can be determined without taking a test. Can you tell what a person is like based on the music they listen to, the way their room looks, what items they have in their car? Scientifically, no, it’s not a good, consistent measure of personality. But does it tell you something about their personality? Of course.

I had similar experiences with social psychology. Both of these classes made me think of ways I could incorporate the information into a character. Social psych was about how we relate to people, how we choose people to be around, how groups and societies work. It also discussed topics such as romantic and non-romantic attachment and attraction. These are themes that I work with a lot in my books so it was interesting to see the scientific measures of romance and attraction (spoiler alert: opposites attract isn’t typically the best for a romantic relationship but they make really good conflict in books).

Like I said before, abnormal psychology inspired a book idea that’s currently still in the development phase but I’m excited to start working on. The class opened my eyes to more disorders than just depression, anxiety, and eating disorders that are often seen in young adult novels. It also taught me about how these disorders are actually diagnosed and how they can often be misrepresented in the media (fun fact: split personality disorder isn’t what it’s called, it’s dissociative identity disorder and it’s often not portrayed correctly in media). The combination of a background in abnormal psychology and a passion for writing made me want to incorporate these into my characters but to portray them as accurately as I can without the feeling like they’re being sensationalized.

Sometimes people look at me weird when I tell them that I’m trying to get a book published because they expect me to further my degree in psychology. Maybe I will one day. They often think that the two can’t go hand in hand, that I have to abandon one for the other. I don’t think that’s true. Psychology, I believe, has made me a better writer because I have an understanding of people and the human mind and some of the ways it thinks and behaviors and functions. And that can be used in my writing. I think it gives me a little bit of an advantage.

This post is a start of a series in which I talk about how psychology has helped and influenced my writing.

The Process · writing

How I Get (and Stay) Inspired

I’m going to start writing about writing. Writing has been my first love and one of the main reasons why I started blogging. I’ve written so many times about why I love writing and why I want to make it my career. The most natural of steps, it seems, would be writing about my process and what goes on when I sit down to write a book. And for that, we must go to the beginning: inspiration for a book idea.

Getting inspired—for just about anything but especially writing—is exciting. There’s nothing quite like the moment when you feel like you thought up the best idea you’ve ever had. I get that feeling every time I think of a new book idea. Most of the time those ideas come as dreams or half-sleep-half-awake musings, and I usually forget them by the time I’m ready to sit down and put words on the page. The ideas that stick, though, one of the forty sitting in my writing queue, have come from a variety of places.

Most often, I get my inspiration—and a little bit of drive—to sit down and write during and after I finish a reading a book. As I’m reading and I hit really good parts, it pushes me to want to write something like that. Something where a character or a plot point or something really connects with the reader. I start to think about my characters and their stories and how I want to work on them. And holding a physical book makes me want to be published so that I can hold my own book in my hands.

The inspiration for specific books depends on where the book started out. Sometimes I’m inspired to write a certain character and the rest of the book builds around them. Other times, it’s the other way around: I think of the plot and the characters get dropped in once it gets developed. Sometimes, it’s a little of both and a little bit of other things that fall into place together.

The novel that I’m currently trying to publish is called What Happens After Midnight, whose main character and romantic plot is loosely based off the 2014 remake of Endless Love. The conflict is based off some random piece I started writing for a different book that took a turn in a different direction. It no longer fit in that book and, instead, fit in What Happens After Midnight better. The setting was based on a photo I saw on Tumblr. I follow a blog that posts pictures of beautiful houses and as soon as I saw it, I fell in love. I built the town around that house. Everything else just came as I started writing. In this case, I got little pieces of inspiration that all started out as separate entities and the more I thought about it, the more they began meshing together. Inspiration can come from anywhere, especially when you’re not thinking about it. One picture can create an entire town.

Staying inspired, for me, is one the hardest parts of writing. I’m often so excited in the beginning that I crank out the first chapter and then the second and then the third and I kind of lose steam. Sometimes these books fall so far to the wayside that when I go back to them, I don’t even know what my original thought process was. Sometimes, I go back to them and I remember why I wanted to write the story and I get a half-wind of inspiration and drive and work at it again. Even in those situations, when I’m renewed, it can be hard to stick by it.

When I’m feeling low on inspiration, I give myself time. Forcing my work never produces anything that I’m proud of. If I’m not in the headspace to write, I go do something else. Reading, working on the blog, watching Netflix, playing with my dog, scroll through social media, whatever, et cetera. It clears my mind and somewhere in there, I get the feeling of wanting to write again.

I also inspire myself with things I’ve written in the past. There are stories and short excerpts that I’m really proud of and every time I read them I can’t believe they came from me. This has been the biggest help when I need a nudge in the right direction.  I go back and read them and remind myself that I can produce something great that I really like.

Getting inspired and staying there is equal parts exciting and frustrating, but isn’t that the fun of it?