Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Guest Author Shawntelle Madison: A New Year: A New Start to Write

By Shawntelle Madison

I'm delighted to start the new year off with fellow geek Shawntelle Madison. She writes in the uber-popular paranormal romance genre, and is here today to share her thoughts on starting off the new year on the "write" foot. (I especially love #1)

Shawntelle is the author of the upcoming urban paranormal romance, Coveted, from Ballantine Books. You can read the first two chapters on her website. She loves to create tools for writers. Be sure to check our her synopsis wizard and goal-motivation-conflict wizard.

Take it away Shawntelle ...

2012 is your year to grab the bull by the horns. Well, at least by the rope at a safe distance.

The holidays are a great time to reflect with family and friends. It’s also a time when many take a break from writing for a much needed rest. It’s quite easy to jump off the treadmill and stay off for a while. I’m here to tell you to stay strong and pull out that keyboard again to get to work.

1. Its okay to be tired and take a break. 
Creative juices can run out and they definitely need to be recharged sometimes. So don’t feel bad if you’re fresh from a long break—or even a short one. Even marathon runners need to stop running so they can be fresh for the next run.

Ask yourself the pivotal questions you ask yourself whenever you've done an activity for too long: is my lack of motivation due to working too much? Are my eyes tired? Does looking at the computer make me cringe? This is likely a sign that your inner writer needs a break. My internal gauge is when I stopping dreaming/daydreaming scenes. That means my mind isn't engaged to work and needs some time to get back on track after a break.

2. If you don’t feel like writing, but you want to cattle prod yourself back to work, then you might need to flip the script and temporarily change your writing process. 
After a long break to recharge myself, I do my best work by changing my writing environment. I’m most comfortable sitting on my couch with laptop, but sometimes home is just too distracting. The cure for those times is a trip to the library or local coffee shop. I turn off the internet, plug-in in some music, and get to work. It’s amazing how many words were just there waiting to come out. Even when I think my well was dry. The problem wasn't the words, it was the focus needed to get them out.

3. Fresh ideas sometimes revive writing. 

Are you stuck at a particular point in your manuscript? Rev the engine back up by building up a nice stack of plot points. This may not work for you if you’re a panster who writes scenes as they come to you, but if you’re a plotter like me, an arsenal of ideas on how to torture your protagonist is just what the doctor ordered. I love playing the what-if game. These what-ifs at first can be anything to get the imagination going, but after that I focus on what-if scenarios that work toward helping my protagonist achieve his/her goals. If you’re not sure what to do, this blog post is a great list of ways to get writing going again.

Another way to generate ideas and relax at the same time is to read, read, and read. Watching a good movie or television program can have the same effect. Oftentimes while watching a good drama that elicits an emotional reation, I ask myself: why do I feel this way? How did the writer get this type of reaction from me? What method did they use and how can I apply the same thing to my work to get things nice and poppin'? It's always nice to combine work and pleasure at the same time. ;)

4. No time to write? 
I know all about this one. I have a huge list of things to do to spring clean my home. Cleaning is a lot easier than writing. No deep thinking. No research. Just organizing/tossing/sweeping/wiping until I have a result I can immediately see—a cleaner home. But deep down inside, I know cleaning is just an excuse to get away from writing. I tell myself I’ll hardly get any work done if I try—or I’ll feel better if the house is clean. Excuses, excuses. Based on experience, it's all about divide and conquer. Multi-tasking is the key. I’ve written 300 words on my cellphone standing in line at the pharmacy. I’ve dictated 750 words using Dragon Naturally Speaking in 10 minutes. That is a bite of time where I got something done. Not a master piece of epic proportions, but a small slice of progress. Those little bites add up. If I did 100 words per day I’d have a decent size manuscript in less than a year. It’s all about setting those manageable goals and fighting for it.You can do it!

So. Are you ready for 2012? Are you ready to set back into the ring and fight for those words? You’re not alone. I’m right there with you and together we’re gonna create some great stories this year!

Do you have any recommendations to get 2012 started off with a bang?

About Coveted


For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home, and Nat and Thorn discover that old flames still remain intense.

Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a much hairier problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is the first target in the turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all her strength to save her pack, and ultimately, herself.


  1. When I am feeling stifled by the computer, I get out a notebook (lined paper kind) and a good ballpoint pen and start writing. The length of time it takes to write out long hand helps my thinking process.

    I also love writing fight/battle scenes or emotionally high scenes with my "Epic Movie Soundtrack" channel on Pandora. Background music from LOTR or Pirates of the Caribbean or other adrenaline packed moments help me link up to the deep feelings I've not been able to tap into previously. Sometimes I'm just so caught up in the "real world" that my WIP world seems too far away. But music can help me immerse myself again.

  2. This was great Shawntelle!

    Like Amelia, I find that soundtracks really help me get in the mood when I'm writing any story. It blocks out other noises and doesn't distract me with lyrics.

  3. @Amelia - I have an epic movie soundtrack channel too. =) Mine includes music from the Batman soundtracks, Pirates of the Caribbean, anything made by Danny Elfman.

    @Katilin - I need music too to get me focused and in the moment. I find it difficult to work in silence.

  4. What great tips! I love the idea of dictating or typing on my cell phone. Grab those little slices of time. Thanks Shawntelle.

  5. Excellent post, thank you so much!

  6. Shawntelle, thanks for stopping by.

    Personally, I'd like to improve my handwriting enough so I can at least take a notebook with me and have an easier time transcribing to the computer or laptop later.

    I hate typing on mobile devices!

    Even quick e-mails and texts are a nightmare, and I'm pretty sure that's a rarity in the under 30 crowd I'm in right now.

    But I didn't get my first cell phone until I was 18, so maybe it's a learning curve thing.

    Music also helps me write, or just relax without leaving the proverbial desk(Well, so long as it's not so moving it makes me cry!) if not stay focused, but it distracts me less than a movie or TV show.

  7. This was awesome Shawntelle! I love all of your tips and have already bookmarked your GMC spreadsheet. I am a sucker for things like that.

    I am kickstarting my writing into high gear, so this post will be extremely helpful. Thanks!

  8. I'm salivating over that Coveted book cover! Can't wait to read that one.
    As for my novel, I really needed this post. I'm stuck and really related to number 2 on your list. Something needs to change!

  9. What a great list! I am going to copy this and keep it to refer to when I'm having a hard time. I have lots of enthusiasm for writing...now. But later? I think I'm going to get into trouble.

  10. Thank you so much! I've been lacking a bit in the motivation department lately, but I think some of these will be perfect for getting myself writing again. What a great way to start 2012!

  11. I, too, am a big fan of your GMC Wizard. Thank you, Shawntelle, for sharing with us here.