In the latest installment of Writer Quirks (and Advice!), I'm pleased as punch to introduce you to my colleague and friend, Anne R. Allen. I met Anne through Twitter, subsequently discovering her fabulous writing blog. In fact, her writing blog is so good, Writer's Digest just named it one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in their May/June 2013 issue! Without further ado, here's Anne...
I think I might be one of the world’s unquirkiest writers. Unless being boring is a quirk. I sit down at the keyboard every day at 8:30 AM with my tea and almond milk. I check email, listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac at 9:00, turn off the radio at 9:05 and get to work.
I always go over the pages from yesterday before going on. I try to write 3 pages, but sometimes it’s 10 and sometimes it’s a half a page I delete the next day. But I always aim for those 3 pages.
I take a break at exactly 12:30 and get back to work about an hour later. In the afternoon I mostly work on social media and my blog, guest blogposts and promotions. Mondays I go to Farmer’s Market and do errands. Saturdays I take off and go to the beach or go out and listen to live music if I can. Even if I have a big deadline. I’ve learned if I don’t take at least a couple of afternoons off a week, my muse gets cranky.
On regular writing days, I go for a walk at 4:30, then come back to prepare dinner—I try to cook everything from scratch—and I eat in front of the hokey local TV news. (Great fodder for stories. Way better than national news.)
Then back to the keyboard at 6:30 if I’ve got a project going, or sometimes I sit down to read.
That life might sound like hellish boredom to some people, and it would have to my younger, wilder and crazier self, but it’s an idyllic life for me right now. I guess I feel I’ve had my share of adventures, and now it’s time for me to stay put and write about them.
My advice to writers is remember only you can write your book. Trust your muse. Listen carefully to feedback, but never change anything just to please somebody else if it doesn’t resonate with you.
You’ll end up with a Frankenbook written by committee.
I spent way too much time with my first novel incorporating feedback from critique groups, workshops, beta-readers, etc., and I ended up with a cobbled-together mess of genres and styles. My current editor is trying to make sense of it now. But I think even he is stumped. It has some of my best writing, but the plot goes off in too many directions.
Catherine Ryan Hyde and I have written a lot about how to deal with critique in our book How to be a Writer in the E-Age...and Keep Your E-Sanity!. It’s important to remember critiquers all come to your page with their own agendas. If they’re self-involved beginners, they’ll try to rewrite your book to be about them. If they’re rule-bound “old hands” they’ll try to get you to write a cookie-cutter book that’s just like everything else out there. The trick is to nod politely, say “duly noted” and forget everything they said.
My favorite quote happens to be from my eBook: “People are always asking me ‘how do I know I’m a real writer?’ and I say, “If you write—and you’re not a wooden puppet carved by an old Italian guy named Gepetto—you’re a real writer…. Don’t give up because you don’t have an agent yet, or your mother-in-law calls you a slacker who ‘sits around on your butt all day,’ or your mechanic keeps asking why you don't have the money to replace that clunker. You’re a writer. Go write.”
Bio: Anne R. Allen is a former actress and stage director who lives on the Central Coast of California. She’s the author of six romantic-comedy mysteries. Her newest is No Place Like Home. She has written a guidebook for authors with Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of the iconic novel Pay it Forward.) How to be a Writer in the E-Age...and Keep Your E-Sanity! She shares an award-winning blog with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris named one of the Best 101 Sites for Writers by Writers Digest.