Saturday, October 3, 2015

NaNoWriMo Prep 2015: Just Add Water by Debra St. John

Just Add Water

I’m a nighttime shower person. I shower to end my day rather than to begin my day.

You might be wondering why I’ve shared this random piece of information with you. It’s because my evening showering routine has become an important part of my writing routine.

Up until the beginning of this year, I didn’t really have a writing routine. I’d write when I had the time, often going days (or even weeks) without finding time to sit down at the keyboard. When asked, I’d say I get most of my writing done in the summer because I don’t work then. But it had gotten way too easy to skimp on that when other summer activities (vacation, travel, pool, beach…) called my name. When I did write, I would keep track of pages as a way to monitor my progress.

That all changed in January. I wanted to submit a holiday story to my publisher, and since I had to actually get something done on a deadline, I needed a better way to make progress and to keep track of progress. I decided I would set aside a specific time each day to write. And instead of tracking my page count, I’d track my word count.

The time of day I set aside was right after my shower, but before my hubby and I curled up on the couch to catch up on tv shows on the DVR. Setting up an actual routine worked for me. While the water flowed in the shower, so did the ideas. Each night I was able to sit down at my computer and increase my word count. I didn’t set a specific word count goal for each writing session, but I kept a running total, and I also kept track of how many new words I added each night. Switching from page counting to word counting was also inspirational. Those words add up faster than pages, which made me really feel like I was making progress.

With my new writing routine, I was able to finish and submit my Christmas story. It’s being released next month as the first book in my Holidays at The Corral Series. I tried the routine again this summer and wrote and just contracted the second book about Valentine’s Day. Right now I’m knee deep in the routine again and am just about finished with the Fourth of July book.

I’ve also renamed the things I want to do as ‘attempts’ instead of ‘goals’. I’m doing the same thing...writing a book...but the change in vocabulary seems to make it less intimidating. Sometimes something simple as a fresh perspective is all you need to get motivated again. A set deadline from my publisher helps, too, which is why I’ve been working on these holiday stories. In order for them to be released at the proper time of year, they need to be submitted, edited, approved, etc. at specific times. I can’t afford to be open-ended and lax and get to writing when I get to it. I definitely find working toward a hard deadline keeps me on track.

My point is this. A writing routine is vital for success. It works, but you need to find what works for you. Your routine may be nothing like anyone else’s, and that’s okay. Start with some basics:
  • When you’ll write.
  • Where you’ll write.
  • How long will a session be?
  • How will you track your progress?
NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to begin a routine and let it take shape. You’ll have a built-in cheering section and lots and lots of support. Having something specific to aim for is also helpful. Find a contest to enter. Choose a certain type of submission. And give yourself plenty pats on the back when you make progress...any progress.

Good luck! And along the way, be sure to enjoy the process!

Christmas at The Corral is the first book I wrote using my 'just add water' routine. It will be released on November 4 from The Wild Rose Press.

About the Author

Debra St. John has been reading and writing romance since high school. She always dreamed about publishing a romance novel some day. Her dream came true when she started writing sultry contemporary romance with sexy heroes and spunky heroines for The Wild Rose Press. Although she's a country gal at heart, she lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband, who is her real life hero.

She is the author of The Corral Series, which includes her debut release, This Time for Always, a Champagne Rose and Rosebud bestseller at The Wild Rose Press. This Can't Be Love and This Feels Like Home complete the series. Her holiday stories are A Christmas to Remember, An Unexpected Blessing (Thanksgiving), and The Vampire and the Vixen for Halloween. One Great Night, Family Secrets, and Wild Wedding Weekend round out her bookshelf.

Book Info

Maggie Pearson has no time in her busy life for love, but an immediate attraction draws her to a mysterious stranger at The Corral, a local bar. However, any romantic feelings are ruthlessly squashed when he accuses her of having an affair with his brother.

As a divorce lawyer, Van Rawlings has seen the ugly side of marriage too many times to believe in love. But having gotten off on the wrong foot with Maggie, and genuinely contrite over his faux pas, he offers to help her with an upcoming Christmas charity dinner. The more time they spend together, the more he realizes he's never met anyone like Maggie, who gives so generously of her time.

Can Maggie and the magic of the season help Van believe again? In Christmas and in love.


Debra St. John said...

Hi Robyn,

Thanks for having me today. Sorry I'm so late checking in...

Good luck to everyone who is going to tackle NaNoWriMo! :)

Robyn Bachar said...

Thanks for being here, Debra!

This is a great idea--I always get story ideas in the shower! I'm going to schedule my NaNo writing accordingly. ;)