Robin Wainwright Writes

Long time reader, first time writer. Join me as I take the plunge into the world of self publishing.

Learning Your Writing Rhythm - Time for an Author's Holiday

 

One of the important things I've learned about being an author is that I am totally different than any other author out there. What do I mean by that? I mean that as I have studied my craft I have discovered that what makes me tick, and what helps me get words on a page, is totally different than anyone else.

I am unique, and guess what, so are you.

If you are an aspiring author, stop trying to squish yourself into a mold that made someone else successful, you won't fit. You have to create your own mold.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't study the work habits of successful authors because you should, but what it does mean is that you should use the shopping cart approach to your mold creation.

The shopping cart approach is this. As you push your shopping cart through a grocery store you don't grab one of everything off the shelves and fill your cart, you only take what you need and you leave the rest. That is the type of approach you should use when figuring out what makes you tick as an author.

Do you work best with a detailed outline, or do you prefer a more organic unfolding of your story? Do you work best with a word count goal or writing until the muse calls it quits? Do you write best in the morning or at midnight? Do you work best at a keyboard or with a pen and paper?

So what's the catch? You'll only discover what works best for you by doing it. Placing pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard. Does that frighten you? Let me tell you a secret, pencils have erasers and computers have delete keys, so nothing you create has to live on as a fodder for your inner critic.


So what brought all this on? I figured out another of my rhythms today and I've chosen to call it an author's holiday. I'm working on my fifth book and I've hit a point where I'm not sure if I'm still on track. I'm an organic writer. I have a general idea of where I want my story to go, and I even have a few scene's worked out in my mind, but what ends up on paper flows from my brain to the keyboard with very little in between. I average about four days a week of writing with a word goal of 1,000 words per day. So by the time I hit about 50,000 words I've been working on a story for almost four months. That seems to be when my inner-critic steps up and says, "What the heck are you doing? This is garbage." That is when I have to go on an author's holiday. I have to print out what I've written to date and switch from author to reader. I take my unfinished manuscript, a purple pen, and a cup of coffee, and I sit down and read what I've written from beginning to end. My goal is not to edit or proofread, although that is inevitable thus the purple pen, but to read the story as a reader. It reminds me who my characters are and what drives them. It reminds me of the little pearls of truth that I've managed to work into the story. It silences that internal critic and recharges me for the next time I sit down to write.


Now that I have figured out my need for an author's holiday, I will work it into my mold and instead of being frustrated I will accept that this is a part of my writing style.


I hope that something I have said here helps you as you go forward to create your successful writing career.

 

I don't often have time to write full blog posts, so if you'd like to hear from me more often follow me on Instagram for snippets of my life as an author.

 

 

Read an excerpt from Adrift

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from
Adrift by Robin Wainwright

 

 

Daniel looked up from taking notes and grinned at Heather, “Ready for the next room?”

“Sure.” Letting Daniel go first they moved down the hall to the next door. Daniel gripped the door knob and gave it a push; he was surprised when the door refused to open.

“Hmmm, swollen I guess.” He pushed again but the door wouldn’t budge. “Well this won’t do. I’ve gotta see everything so I can give Sarah a good estimate. Little pigs, little pigs, let me in.” Daniel joked as he turned the knob and threw his shoulder into door to try and force it open. The door still didn’t budge. Rubbing his shoulder Daniel turned to Heather, “We may have to come back with some larger tools.”

Daniel jotted a note and walked across the hall to the next door. As he reached for the door knob there was a small click and both Heather and Daniel swung around as the door on the jammed room swung open. Heather felt a creepy feeling and gooseflesh popped up on her arms. Heather and Daniel shared a look and Heather said, “I guess you should have said the magic word.”

“What open sesame?” Both Daniel and Heather jumped as the door slammed shut again.

“No, the magic word is please.” The door knob turned and the door opened again.

“Oh come on!” Heather exclaimed.

“I’m sure there’s a logical reason,” Daniel said as he stepped into the room. Heather slowly followed him to the doorway and looked in.

“See, a broken window.”

Heather looked over to see that the window was indeed broken but not boarded over and she felt a strong breeze whipping around the room. But the breeze was so cold. She wondered when it had gotten so cold.

Daniel wedged the back of a straight backed chair under the door knob and began pacing the room. When Daniel motioned that she could enter the room Heather shook her head, she had decided that she could see everything she needed to from right there in the doorway. Daniel shrugged, dropped into his inspection mode and said nothing else.

This room was another bedroom, but this one was much larger and included a small door that probably led to a small bathroom. Tattered curtains billowed around a window with a spectacular view of the ocean. Daniel met her at the door and said, “Next.”

The next door in the hallway led to a small flight of stairs. “We’ll leave that for last,” Daniel said and moved on to the next door. In all the second floor of the cottage had three small bedrooms, one large bedroom with a private bath, and a shared bathroom with a tub and shower.

Daniel approached the door with the flight of stairs and said, “Now this should be special. You remember the drill.” Heather shook her head yes.

Daniel carefully worked his way up the stairs with no mishaps and gestured from Heather to follow him. At the top of the stairs was a small landing and another door.

Daniel opened the door and a huge rush of air breezed by Heather bringing with it the fresh smell of the ocean. All Heather could see through the door was the blue sky. Daniel smiled back at Heather and said, “The widow’s walk.” He stepped out of the door and began his careful pacing. Heather crept up to the doorway and put her head out savoring the fresh air. She looked to the left and saw the lighthouse rising high above her.

Mesmerized she walked over to the edge of the widow’s walk and its beautiful wrought iron railing. To her right was the ocean and god what a view! Way out on the horizon was the ever present fog bank and she thought she could see a large ship sailing just in front of it. She leaned forward straining to see more of the ship when she heard a loud crack and she began to feel herself falling forward. Her arms flailed reaching for something to grab onto but there was nothing.

A hand grabbed her upper arm and yanked her back away from the edge. Breathless she spun around to thank Daniel only to see him rushing toward her from the other side of the roof. “Heather! What the hell! Are you ok?”

Shaken she rubbed her upper arm and decided it would be best if she just sat down. She plopped down on the floor right where she stood. She looked at where she had been standing on the edge of the widow’s walk and saw that the railing had broken loose. The railing was hanging over the edge of the cottage and would have fallen to the ground if not for one long bolt holding it to the next section of railing.

Daniel knelt before her and was saying something. Heather had to make an effort to focus in on what he was saying. “Heather, are you ok? What the heck were you thinking?”

“I’m sorry, it’s just the view was so beautiful. I wasn’t thinking.”

Daniel put an arm around her and said, “At least you’re ok. Thank goodness you have such good balance. I heard the railing start to give way but I was too far away to reach you. I thought you were going over but then you caught your balance. Thank goodness.”

Heather rubbed her upper arm in confusion but before she could say anything there came a loud bang from somewhere beneath them in the cottage. Both Heather and Daniel jumped.

 

Robin Wainwright

Fly, Baby Bird, Fly!

Adrift (The Widow's Walk Trilogy Book 1) - Robin Wainwright, Carol Holaday

Tentatively I approached a few of my friends about reading my first novel. They all expressed enthusiasm and I sent them out electronic copies.

 

Once again the waiting game began, nerve-racking.

 

I continued working on the second and third novels in the series, Becalmed and Capsized, and tried to stay focused on the process.

 

Then I received a card in the mail from one of my beta readers. It contained a Starbucks card and statements about how much my reader wanted to visit Crescent Bay, the fictional village where my story takes place. The Starbucks card was a reference to how large a part coffee plays in the first book.

 

Success! I still keep the card nearby to read on those days when writing is a challenge.

 

Then a couple weeks later I got an email from another beta reader. The beginning was a typical email from a friend but she ended it with “or I could move to a small village…” and she went on to describe the main theme of my book. Hurray.

 

Feeling more at ease with my first book, I dove back in to finish the race.

 

As an avid reader I have always enjoyed discovering a series that had been out long enough that I could binge read the full story. Since I am a self-published author, I can decide when my novels are published. I had decided to release all three books at the same time on October first, my favorite month of the year.

 

Hopefully Chronos would be on my side.

Pushing a Baby Bird Toward the Edge of the Nest

Adrift (The Widow's Walk Trilogy Book 1) - Robin Wainwright, Carol Holaday

After almost a year of work, I now had three novels living on my Google drive, but were they any good?

 

I sent my first paper baby, Adrift, off to my editor and waited.

 

However, I have never been a very patient soul.

 

Two weeks later, I tentatively asked a longtime friend, and avid reader, if she would be willing to read my first novel.

 

She said she'd love to and I sent Adrift out into the world, and waited on pins and needles.

 

What if all my work and effort resulted in nothing more than a waste of time?

 

What if the characters I had grown to love were so terrible that only their own mother could love them?

 

A week later, on Father's day, I was sitting in a restaurant having lunch with my husband, when I received an email from my friend. She loved what I had written; I burst into tears of relief. My wonderful husband just smiled and comforted me by saying, "Of course she loved what you wrote, you're a good writer."

 

Later that afternoon, that same friend called me and she was bubbling over with enthusiasm for my book. She admitted that she had put off reading it, fearful of what she would say to me if my writing was bad. She had started reading Adrift that morning. She told me that she had quickly become absorbed by the story and had been bummed that she’d have to put it aside to take her husband out for Father’s day celebrations. He had opted to stay in and watch NASCAR and she had dove back into my book. She had finished reading Adrift in one day. She said it was so good she couldn't put it down.

 

Her enthusiasm boosted my confidence and I wondered about sending my baby off to a couple of other Beta readers.

One afternoon at Comic Con...

The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing - Jana Deleon, Jasinda Wilder, Liliana Hart, Tina Folsom, Theresa Ragan, Dorien Kelly, Jane Graves, Colleen Gleason, Deborah Holland, Denise Grover Swank Adrift (The Widow's Walk Trilogy Book 1) - Robin Wainwright, Carol Holaday

Location: San Diego Comic Con

 

Date/Time: Afternoon - July 2013

 

Scene: Woman sits in a large room filled with people sitting in folding chairs. The woman looks bored, but resigned.

 

Action: Woman takes a Kindle from her purse and begins reading. Soon you can tell that she has become absorbed by what she is reading. Time passes, and other people in attendance applaud as the panel discussion ends, but the woman seems oblivious to what is happening around her.

 

-- End Scene --

 

That woman was me just over a year ago. If you've never been to Comic Con, let me explain. There are only so many seats and way too many butts to fill them, so if you have something you really want to see you need to stake out your spot an hour or two before your panel begins.

 

Sitting through these other panels is always an adventure. I have discovered shows that I had no clue existed - but that I now love. I've marveled at the joy felt by others as they cheered for some show/movie/video game/author that meant nothing to me and the world to them. But on this afternoon the panel I was sitting in was a dud. No excitement from the stage or from the audience.

 

I remembered the new book I had downloaded to my Kindle, The Naked Truth About Self Publishing, and soon I was reading and clicking as fast as I could. The more I read, the more I realized that I could do this. I could write and self-publish my own book!

 

My mind began to form a story about something that had fascinated me as a small child. I had been reading a book about lighthouses when I learned that the name of the railed walkway on the top of a cottage was called a Widow's Walk. It was named this because of all the wives of sailors who had stood on top of their houses straining to see the sails of their husband's ships. So many men were lost at sea that the platform came to be known as the Widow's Walk. As a small child I had been convinced that these platforms must be very haunted spaces.

 

I broke out some scraps of paper and a pen. I began scribbling madly as the pictures in my mind transformed into words that flowed from the pen in my hand onto the paper. By the time the panel ended I had written the first chapter of what was to become my first self-published book, Adrift - Book One of The Widow's Walk Trilogy.

 

My adventure as a self-published author had begun.