Join me for an energising chat with New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, podcaster extraordinaire, and inspirational writing teacher, Lani Diane Rich.
Lani writes funny romantic books and, under the pen name Lucy March, magical contemporary fiction. She has eleven books published and runs a creative business helping other writers, Storywonk, with her husband Alastair Stephens.
Also, I highly recommend the Storywonk podcasts. Head here for the full list!
Lani’s process – she has periods of creation, editing and so on throughout the year, rather than focusing on a weekly or monthly schedule.
Lani writes in three basic phases: Discovery phase (soundtracks, staring out the window, collages etc), drafting phase – where she tries to write 2000 words a day, and revision.
Lani says the revision phase is where: ‘I take all my understanding of story and structure and apply it to the hot mess’.
We talk about how the process can vary from book to book. Lani says:
‘I do what the book asks of me, if I have to get up and write at midnight, I get up to write at midnight.’
Lani talks about the importance of giving yourself permission for a ‘full and rich discovery phase’.
To stay productive and creative over time, Lani suggests writing every day (something small and fun – something which reminds you what you love about writing), and engaging with narrative every day in a way which is enriching and inspiring to you (this can be good television or film, video games, graphic novels, as well as novels).
And don’t miss Lani’s brilliant ‘Claim Your Awesome’ speech!
In the first section of the show, I talk about how useful I’ve found keeping a simple and regular routine. I first heard about this concept (as it applies to creativity) in Murakami’s excellent book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
In this episode I chat with Cally Taylor about hopping genre, developing craft through short stories, getting the writing bug, and typing while walking on a treadmill.
Cally Taylor wrote two sparkling romantic comedies, Heaven Can Wait and Home For Christmas, before turning to dark psychological suspense under the name C.L. Taylor. The first of these, The Accident, was hugely successful, shooting up the Kindle charts and selling over 150,000 copies in the UK alone. Last year, Home For Christmas was made into a film by JumpStart Productions and, since this interview was recorded, Cally’s second thriller, The Lie, has shot up the bestseller charts.
Also, I mention that my debut novel, The Language of Spells is now available in paperback (meep!)
and I recommend a book I’ve been enjoying this week: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
This episode’s listener question comes from Maggie Jones – thanks, Maggie!
‘How ‘sucky’ can a book be when you send it in?!’
‘This question is definitely something I struggle with as I have very little confidence in my own work and never feel that something is good enough or even safely passed the ‘it sucks’ stage.
And therein lies the problem. We are probably not the best people to judge the suckiness or otherwise of our work.
Also, it’s worth remembering that ‘sucky’ is a subjective term. I think it might have been Jenny Crusie who said ‘your book is not a $100 bill, not everyone is going to like it’ and that is so true.
There may be published books that you don’t like, that other people love.
So, a book’s merit is a subjective thing. There is no opposite to ‘sucky’ which is ‘perfect’, only opinion on what is good or bad or fun to read or boring.
Once you’ve accepted that there isn’t an ideal you can achieve before sending your work out, you only have to ensure that it’s as good as you can make it.
Whether you’re sending your book to an agent, an editor or hitting ‘publish’ yourself to put it into the Amazon store, there are steps you can take to make sure that it’s ready.
Things like finishing it first, and rewriting it as much as you can stand to get it into the best possible shape. You can also get perspective through feedback from critique partners or by letting it rest before you edit for a final time. Four to six weeks is a good amount of time to leave it, so that when you come back to it you can see it anew. When I do this, I find I can detach my writer self from the reader, and I often find there are plenty of things I like – and have forgotten writing. It’s like magic. It also makes the dull or awkward or confusing parts glaringly obvious.
I hope that helps, Maggie. Thanks again for the great question.’
Got a question about writing or creativity?
If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.
I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).
I’m thrilled to have YA author Keris Stainton as my first guest. I met Keris in an online writing group many years ago, and I have been delighted and excited to watch her build a successful career as a beloved author of YA fiction.