I know I’ve been pretty crappy about positing Writers on Writing stuff, but I promise the wait has been worth it. Today, Diana Rodriguez Wallach tells us a bit about her writing life. She’s really entertaining and intuitive. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did!
What is your brainstorming process for a new book?
I have a small journal where I write down every single book idea that comes to me. No matter how bad. Then usually there is one idea that keeps tugging at the back of my brain for months (or years). And I’ll know even when I’m working on another project, that that idea is what I’ll do next.
For my last WIP, once I hit the writing process, I brainstormed my entire outline in an artist’s sketchbook. I made tons of “mind maps” to plot out scenes, chapters, the entire storyline. I filled the whole book by the end, and I kept adding to it, updating the outline with changes I made as I went along. If the book ever makes it big, I think that notebook could be a heck of a keepsake. It looks like my brain on paper.
Can you explain your typical work week day?
Well, I’m not a morning person. So I start off slow and usually only work on blogs and emails before noon. Then I typically focus on my WIP. If I’m writing something brand new, I try to write 2,000-3,000 words per day. If I’m in the first round of edits, I try to get through 10 pages per day. If I’m in the later rounds of edits, I try to get through 50 pages per day.
Then I spend my nights doing consulting and promotional work in front of the TV—I usually don’t turn my laptop off until midnight, that’s why my agent calls me “prolific.”
Tell us about when you made the decision to write.
I’ll warn you, it’s kind of strange. I started writing my first novel because I had a dream one night that I was a young adult author, and I dreamt the concept for an entire series of books. Seriously. When I woke up and told my husband, he reminded me of a vacation we took five years earlier through New England.
We had stopped in Salem, MA to see the witches’ houses. While there, I decided to visit a psychic (when in Rome, right?). Immediately, the psychic immediately told me, “You’re a writer.” And I was; at the time, I was a reporter. I told her this, and she asked what I wrote about. Intentionally trying to be cryptic (I mean, she is a psychic, shouldn’t she already know?), I told her that I wrote about “business.” She said, “No. I see you writing books, little books, like children’s books.”
I had never considered writing a novel before. But after the dream, and my recollection of that encounter, I figured it was “a sign.” So I sat down and started writing my first book.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
Sit down and write (or as they say, BIC: butt in chair). If you stare at your first sentence for a month, you’re never going to finish a novel. You have to be willing to plough ahead even if the words aren’t perfect in the first draft. Because the satisfaction you get when you type, “the end,” will give you the motivation to go back and massage the language as needed. Get the draft done, then do several rounds of edits, find some Beta readers, shine the manuscript until it gleams. Striving for perfection should be left for the later drafts.
Tell us about what you’re working on right now and what we can expect from you in the near future.
I’m actually working on two projects at the same time. One is a rewrite of the first novel I ever wrote, the novel that actually landed me my agent. It never sold, but it’s continued to tug at the back of my brain. I knew I could make it better, and I’ve been spending the last few months finally turning it into what I always wanted it to be. Currently, it’s called THE EX BFF and you can read an entire blog I wrote about the experience.
The second project, is a WIP that I’ve been pouring my heart into for about a year now. It’s about spies, and is my attempt at an action-oriented, girl-power book. It’s very different from my other novels—it takes place in Europe, there’s an intense mystery, and I had to do tons of historical research. It’s the novel I’m most proud of, and I’m still plugging away at it. It’s called ANASTASIA RISING, and you can read some sneak peeks on my blog.
So glad you’re working on two projects at once because I love your books! Can’t wait for the next one! For those of you who want to read more about Diana, you can check out her website here. If you’d like to purchase her books, also check out her website for more information or your local bookstore. Thanks for joining me, Diana! And until next week everyone!