Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Take the Journey—by Joan Swan

pathWriting, like life, evolves from the journeys we’ve taken.

Adventures, life lessons, relationships, love. Regardless of genre, these are experiences all writers encounter, either within ourselves, with other writers or even with our characters. (I’ve been known to fall in love with my hero a time or two--or ten.)

Life often doesn’t give you a choice whether or not you take a particular journey. Some life journeys you choose, such as taking a new job or deciding to have a baby, but others are thrust upon you, like an illness or a loss. But writing journeys are all about choice. You choose to travel every journey with your character. Journeys of your own making. Journeys often thorned and complicated and painful.

When you think about sitting down to voluntarily jump into the muck of situations usually far more tumultuous than real life, it’s truly no shock the resistance to write is, occasionally, insurmountable.

Challenge creates excitement. And anxiety.

Many of these anxiety-ridden days have been piling up for me recently as I delve into writing my first option book. With the two manuscripts contracted with Kensington finished, polished, submitted and awaiting editorial comments, it’s time for me to start writing another book, one which the publisher has the right to view before my agent and I submit to other houses for consideration.

I decided to write the third novel in this series for the option because I love trilogies, and because I believe in this team of characters enough to risk having the book not sell. If my current house decides to pass on this manuscript, it would be difficult, (although not impossible, granted), to sell the third of a series already printed by another publishing house to a new publisher.

So, not only am I breaking new ground by writing a book I know has to be stellar enough to sell on just three paragraphs and a synopsis (as options are often written as proposals, not full manuscripts), this third book is a reunion story, always fraught with complex emotion and hell on a writer, and I’ve got to culminate the overarching plot of the trilogy while tying that plotline into the individual book’s plot.

Gee…I wonder why I’m resistant to sit my butt down and face that blinking curser.

The universe will give you what you need. You just need to listen.

On one of these should-be-writing-but-wasn’t days, I took my pup to the beach for a walk. Exercise, like writing lately, is often one of those things I procrastinate over. But I forced myself out of my little introverted world for the sake of my awesome pup. (They’re good at getting you out.)

sand_dollarsAfter we reached the waterline and headed south, that momentum the motivational speaker Tony Robbins speaks of took over. I was there. I was walking. And it seemed the beautiful, crisp, clear winter day was my reward for showing up. Until, a ways down the beach, I found another little treasure half buried in the wet sand: a perfect sand dollar. I got a little thrill as I picked it up, washed the sand off in the sea and carried it with me. Another fifty feet—another sand dollar. Wow, this was cool. My daughter is the one with the sand dollar karma, I never find them. But that day seemed to be my very own sand dollar day.

As I walked our customary low-tide four mile trek, the sand dollars appeared more frequently. Every thirty feet, every twenty feet, every ten feet I’d discover one sparkling at the water line or catch sight of one from the corner of my eye. By the end of our walk, I’d collected twenty-one perfect sand dollars, each as unique as a snowflake. One as tiny as a dime.

Little treasures I’d never have discovered if I hadn’t taken that journey.

I felt as light and invigorated and inspired as after a solid writing stint that produced a new plot twist or created a fresh character.

And I knew it was time to crack my resistance to this option book .

Every writer gets stuck at some time or another. Not every writer gets going again. Be the exceptional one. Let the promise of those little treasures lure you back to what you love.

Because if you don’t show up, neither will they.

What keeps you from writing? How do you unstick? What little treasures have you found while pouring yourself into your story?

deadmanI thought this little guy was appropriate for a giveaway on a mystery writer’s blog. (And I adore him!) Comment to enter the drawing to win the Dead Guy Sticky Notes pad.


Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist, and a double Kiss of Death Daphne Du Maurier finalist. She writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, and her first novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, debuts April, 2012. You can find Joan at her website:

Thanks so much for guest posting today, Joan! Joan is a writing friend of mine that I’ve gotten to know on Twitter, where she’s active as @joanswan. She also has a great blog that I’ve tweeted before. I’m looking forward to her Phoenix Rising series next year.