The Worried Writer Episode #20: Caroline Green ‘Storytelling Is What Inspires Me’

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Caroline Green is an award-winning author of books for young people. Her debut, Dark Ride, won the RONA Young Adult Book of the Year and the Waverton Good Read Award, Hold Your Breath won the Oldham Book Award, and both Hold Your Breath and Cracks have been short-listed for eleven awards between them. Caroline is Writer In Residence at East Barnet School and teaches Writing for Children at City University. She has recently moved genre with a pen name, Cass Green, and a brand new psychological thriller, The Woman Next Door, which is currently storming the Kindle charts.

You can find out more about Caroline and her books at www.carolinegreen.net

Also on Facebook and Twitter: @carolinesgreen or @CassGreenWrites

 

 In the intro I give a quick update on my writing (I finished my latest book – yay!) and recommend Mark McGuinness’s new book, Productivity For Creative People which is currently free on Amazon (or from Mark’s website, Lateral Action).

Mark is poet and a creative coach and he really knows his stuff. You might also like my interview with him in episode 12 of this podcast!

Also, I have completed my first ‘independent’ venture and the audio book of The Language of Spells is out now!

You can listen to a short sample on Audible and, if you sign-up for a 30-day trial, you can get the whole book for free. Here is the book on Audible (UK)Audible (US) and iTunes.

I answer a listener question on the writing advice ‘show don’t tell’ and mention an article I wrote on this subject for Novelicious. Here’s the link.

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

In the interview:

Caroline on the realities of publishing:

 ‘The year when most of these things were happening and I had national paper reviews and won awards and everything was wonderful, that was the year I actually did my self-employed accounts and cried because I had made no money.’

 

On using a pen name:

‘I think it just helps you to separate the two writing personas…’

On writing:

‘My perfect writing day involves going to The British Library… It feels like more of a commitment and I feel that when I’m there I really have to make the time count.’

‘Storytelling is what inspires me.’

Recommended:
Caroline recommends Into The Woods by John Yorke

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell

Zoe Marriott’s blog The Zoe-Trope.

The Pomodoro Technique for timed writing sessions.

 

Episode #02 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with Stephanie Burgis

ep2My guest today is Stephanie Burgis, award-winning author of short stories and novels that mix the genres of fantasy and historical.

I’ve know Stephanie online for a couple of years and I’m continually impressed by her productivity. No matter what is going on in her life, she seems to pull amazing word counts out of the bag with an astonishing regularity.

Stephanie is also a generous and supportive member of the writing community, and it was wonderful to get the opportunity to speak to her.

For more information on Stephanie and her books, head to www.stephanieburgis.com or find her on Twitter @stephanieburgis

We talk about the importance of both discipline and kindness in staying productive, and Stephanie gives her top tips for making it through the long slog of a novel.

Recommendations from the podcast:

Stephanie mentions that the Clarion West Workshop was life-changing for her as a writer.

The wonderful short story that made me sob (available free to read on the Daily Science Fiction site): Dancing In The Dark 

I share my recent difficulties with getting back to writing after a short break, and a technique for introducing a little kindness into the way you speak to yourself when struggling with writing (or anything, really!).

I also answer my first listener question (sent in by @evergrowinbrain – thank you!).

He wrote:

‘I do wonder if forcing words out ever becomes good stuff and if you keep tabs on which bits your write ‘under duress’ and which bits were easy. 

Are 500 rubbish words still better than no words at all?

Or do they not count if they aren’t good?’

My experience, for what it’s worth, is that by the time I’ve finished the draft and let it rest, I can’t tell which words came easily and which did not.

I slogged my way through 50,000 words of a book once before deciding that life was too short to spend this amount of effort on something I hated. I put the book in the metaphorical bottom drawer. A year later I read it with surprise and pleasure. There was lots of good stuff in there.

So, to answer your question, I don’t think the quality of the words matter for two reasons. Firstly, you are too close to assess quality at the time; you need to finish the project and let it rest before you know.

Secondly, it’s all practice and you should count all of the words you write. You might end up deleting them, but that’s okay; sometimes it’s necessary to write the wrong words before you get to the right ones. And you should definitely get the credit for the work!

The only thing I would add is that if you are finding every single writing session a horrible slog, then it might be worth considering whether there is something wrong with the big picture. It might be that you’re trying to write a book for the wrong reasons, or that there’s something wrong with your plot or character motivation.

I do hope that answers your question, and thank you again for writing in.

If you have anything to add to my answer – or an alternative opinion – do let me know.

And if you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, don’t hesitate to ask.

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a review on iTunes.

And thank you for listening!