Monday, March 09, 2015


We’ve all heard about a “runner’s high” and how it takes the runner into a “zone” where he’s oblivious to all else.  You may not have known that there is also a “writer’s high.”  The writer is in his or her “zone” which translates to the world being created and characters peopling that world.

In this magical place, the writer becomes so immersed in the story that all else fades away. Time. Sounds. Smells. Presumably if the house were on fire, I’d know, but you get the idea.

When my writing is going well and the story is moving forward, I lose track of how long I’ve been sitting in my chair. I become my main characters and my mind follows them as the cursor moves across the monitor. This is on a good writing day—or night.
Last night I quit for the day feeling as if it were nine or ten. It was two this morning. Oops. (Writers are often night people who stay up late into the night when the world is quiet and there are no distractions.)

On the other hand, a bad day is like pulling my own wisdom teeth with a pair of pliers. Nothing works. The phone rings, there’s email to read, texts, pets, social media, all sorts of distractions. Please understand that I love hearing from family and friends. I’d seriously hate to lose touch with them. I enjoy Facebook, email, texts, phone calls and visits.  

However, each interruption takes me out of the story and I lose traction. I feel as if I’m spinning my wheels and going nowhere. I want to shoot my characters and move on to another book. Nope, not allowed.

Recently, I read an excellent article by romantic suspense author Allison Brennan about those days and how to get through them. The article is titled, “Writers Write.” Yes, we do. She suggested that self-doubt is rooted in fear. 

Well, yeah. I'm always afraid.

What if I can’t make this book interesting? 

What if readers are disappointed? 

What if, what if, what if...  

I’m reminded of a quote by Agatha Christie about such a day. “. . . . I had no joy in writing, no élan.  I had worked out the plot--a conventional plot, partly adapted from one of my other short stories.  I knew, as one might say, where I was going, but I could not see the scene in my mind's eye, and the people would not come alive . . . . That was the moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional.  I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you are writing, and aren't writing particularly well.”

That explains how I felt about my current work in progress a couple of weeks ago. I’m already far past the time I had planned to publish WINTER BRIDE and am still working on this book. I liked the beginning, knew where I was heading for a good ending, but the middle was murky. Very murky.

But I also recalled Nora Roberts’ quote that “I can fix bad writing. I can’t fix a blank page.” So, I persevered.

Then, magically, the last few days I have been back in my zone, living in my characters’ world and enjoying being there. I’m on a definite high. Endorphins are pumping.

Life is good again!    

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