I'm a type-A personality. I make lists and plan things out to the very last detail. When all else is chaos, my systematic approach to writing is often the only thing that keeps me sane. (Not to mention it’s cheaper than therapy.)
I start with a character or premise that strikes my fancy. Around this, I build a world, populating it with composite portraits of friends and neighbors, family and coworkers. I fill in my characters’ histories, make family trees, create life plans. Often I do a lot of background reading on whatever topic or environment is relevant to my story.
Then comes plotting. True to form, I keep timelines of important events in my characters’ lives, and use an actual calendar to keep track of their activities in the ongoing present.
Then I go back and write. Each session begins by re-reading the last scene or chapter, making a few edits if needed, and then mapping out a bare-bones outline of the next chapter, fleshing it out, and finally jotting some notes for the following writing session. This continues—two to three sessions a week, each several hours long—for four to six months. That’s how long the process takes me from start to finish for each book. The editing, beta-reading, cover design, formatting, and marketing all come later, often overlapping with the planning stages for my next book.
Sometimes I look around at fellow writers who are incredibly fast and prolific, and wonder how they do it. Some are pantsers. Some are able to multi-task, or write despite distractions.
Alas, that is not me. I need complete quiet and freedom from interruptions in order to write. That’s hard to come by in a house with husband and three small kids. Not to mention the time constraints imposed by my day job. Did I mention I’m a physician? I average fifty hours a week seeing patients, and also take (thankfully infrequent) call.
So, slow and steady it is. At least for now.
Contributed by Jill Blake
Jill Blake loves chocolate, leisurely walks where she doesn’t break a sweat, and books with a guaranteed happy ending. A native of Philadelphia, Jill now lives in southern California with her husband and three children. During the day, she works as a physician in a busy medical practice. At night, she pens steamy romances.
Beyond the Ivory Tower... coming in November 2015
If there’s one thing math professor Anna Larazev believes in, it’s the value of higher education. So when her younger sister announces she’s dropping out of college, Anna places the blame squarely on the man who inspired her sister’s rebellion.
Venture capitalist Ethan Talbot claims the US academic system is broken. His solution? Pay top students to “opt out” and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams without wasting time and money on a university degree.
In a passionate battle for the hearts and minds of a new generation, Anna will do whatever it takes to prove Ethan wrong. But when his demands take a more personal turn, will she sacrifice her principles to come out on top?
Ethan ignored the first few emails. Likewise the faxed letter, the phone message slips, and the envelope delivered by registered mail.
Ever since his usual assistant, Margaret, went on medical leave, he’d been saddled with a series of temps who had neither the wits nor the will to guard his inner sanctum. What he really needed was someone who not only knew how to organize his schedule and take dictation, but could also screen out and deflect all the noise of the outside world. There were simply too many people asking for money, or looking for a job, or hoping for an interview or sound bite, or just eager for the opportunity to rub elbows with the man of the moment.
Frankly, he was tired of it. But until Margaret returned from getting her hip replaced, he was unlikely to catch a break.
Maybe, after this weekend’s summit, he’d take some time off. Fly down to Belize and do some diving. Or visit his parents in upstate New York. He hadn’t seen them since Christmas. And even then he’d spent most of his time taking meetings by Skype and reviewing business plan executive summaries, financial projections, and capitalization tables.
Sighing, he turned away from his contemplation of San Francisco’s skyline. He needed to make one more pass through his PowerPoint presentation for tomorrow’s keynote address.
He was nearly halfway through the slides when the door burst open and he found himself facing an interruption he couldn’t ignore.
She was five foot five--but that was the only average thing about her. She swept into the room with rapid, angry strides, dark brows drawn together over almond shaped eyes, nostrils flaring. Her hair was caught in a casual twist from which glossy black strands escaped to tumble past high cheekbones and bare neck. A V-cut T-shirt that stopped just short of displaying any cleavage was tucked into a pair of close-fitting jeans.
Ethan’s latest assistant—Tina? Trisha? something with a T—scurried in after her. “Dr. Larazev—”
The woman shook off the restraining hand and continued to advance.
“Ma’am, please.” The assistant cast Ethan a nervous glance. “I’m sure we can schedule you in for an appointment. If you’ll just come with me…”