Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Writer's Wednesday: A Writer's Instincts

Dara Girard talks about instincts and the writer

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” Rita Mae Brown.

Instincts. So many authors want the well worn path to writing success, but more often than not if you talk to a bestselling author it was instinct that shot them to fame. I didn’t think about that much until I was working on my latest release ROUND THE CLOCK the fourth and final book in The Black Stockings Society series. I was making progress then I reached page thirty and realized that I had to throw them all away. Why? Because the story didn’t have the right momentum.

The story was about Anna Marie Williams a people pleaser who gets an inheritance and an invitation to the club, but the point of view was all wrong. I tried dialogue. It didn’t work. I tried back story. Same thing. The story was nice and publishable, but something was still missing.

So I started again. Fortunately, I’ve been down this road before. I’ve learned that even when I can’t identify a problem to just go with a gut feeling. That in order to be true to my readers, my character(s), and myself, sometimes I have to scrap all that I’ve written for the integrity of the story. I don’t worry about the pages lost of the hours gone. I think of it as a warm-up. When I’m in the warm up stage I do the four L’s—listen, let go, let loose and love and you can too.

First, listen to your instincts and be true to yourself. Don’t fall into the trap that your words are your precious babies. Come to your manuscript like a surgeon. If your manuscript is dying, slice and dice, put in, take out and sew up until it comes alive again.

Second, let go. When you’re writing, learn to crush that inner critic. Let go of all the expectations you have for your work. Refuse to refer to your work as a masterpiece. Using such words is the quickest way to writer’s block. Let your self write crap and be happy about it. Remember fertilizer helps plants grow.

Third, let loose. Just write, free flow. Let your creative juices rush onto the screen or page.

Fourth, love. Put your heart on the page. Remember your first crush? Your first heartbreak? Your biggest disappointment. Use that feeling. Writing romance is all about emotion. Be melodramatic. Expand. Entertain. Gush. Go all the way.

That’s exactly what I did with ROUND THE CLOCK and soon the pages were piling up and Anna Marie came alive to me as did her story. Most successful writers trust their instincts, they don’t follow the trodden path, they create their own, and they use their voice to stamp their work.

Do you think you have writer’s instincts? Have you ever gone against advice and come out all right in the end? I’ll give away an autographed copy of ROUND THE CLOCK to a random commenter.

Rebel made good meets good girl gone wild…
Anna Marie has spent too long trying to please everybody else. Now, thanks to an unexpected inheritance, she’s got a new lease on life. Her first step? Accepting the invitation to the Black Stockings Society. Still, the scandalous fishnets she receives in her first package must be a mistake. Anna Marie would never dare wear something so outrageously sexy to a meeting with her lawyer…would she?
In high school, Desmond Rockwell was a rebel barely aware of Anna Marie’s existence, or the fact that she had a major crush on him. But he can’t ignore the bold, seductive woman who has come to him seeking legal advice, unleashing a sizzling attraction that proves that some things are definitely worth the wait…
Find out more about The Black Stockings Society by watching the video here:


  1. Oh boy, this really speaks to me right now. I am unpublished author (but trying to fix that!) and I just recently scrapped about 1/3 of a book I was working on.
    I had gone to national RWA Conference and came away inspired in general, but depressed about my book. So I sat down with some tips in front of me that I had picked up from various workshops and did free writing and outlining until I got to know my characters. My characters weren't deep enough, the conflict wasn't strong or defined enough, so out it all went. I have it saved in a separate file in case I want to go back to check on a word or two, but with my new and improved outline I don't feel the need to!

  2. Great post, Dara. I think the one thing I've learned over the years is to recognise when things are going wrong, to back off, take time out to think. And to abandon the lovely words you want to cling to like ivy.

    I love the sound of your book, too!

  3. Well this must be the kick in the behind I needed today. For the past three days after reaching page 100 on my new WIP I have been so depressed about it. (Not good when your wanting to sell something-LOL) I kept thinking it doesn't have "something". After mulling for two days- I've figured out it's missing the "spark". I don't know why exactly, but it just feels off. Especially, when I read other published books in this line I'm targeting. Now, I'm afraid I'm not quite brave enough to scrap 100 pages but I am going in with a paring knife and see what I can do. :) I'm going to find that spark darn it. I am , I am , I am! LOL>

  4. Thanks for a great blog and great advice! Being a non-pub (but working on it) your blog struck a major cord! I will now "let go" as you advise and hopeful I can overcome the "sagging middle" that seems to come with every book I write. I've printed your advice off - and it's been pasted on the wall in front of my PC. Take Care. Caroline x

  5. Great blog, Dara! Permission to write crap is fab advice. We can be so hard on ourselves. But you can always fix crap.

    And bleeding on the page is a must. Difficult, but necessary!

  6. Jill, congrats on having the courage to do what needs to be done. With that kind of attitude I'm certain you'll be a published author one day!

    Thanks Liz! I love your last line about abandoning the lovely words you want to cling to like ivy. Spoken like a true writer and perfectly accurate!

    Tamelia, I'm thrilled that you've been able to recognize that something's off and have analyzed the works of others to try to find out what it is. No, you don't have to throw away all 100 pages so paring down is definitely key and that also takes courage. I know you'll eventually find your 'spark'.

    Thanks, Caroline. I'm so glad my words can be one of encouragement. I certainly had to 'let go' many times and when it comes to the 'sagging middle' I always prop it up with a turning point (i.e. what can go wrong now?).

    Thanks Donna! Yes, bleeding on the page isn't easy but being a writer is no walk in the park, right?

  7. I thought all your advice was sensible and practical, but I loved the line about fertilizer making plants grow! And I'd love to win a copy of your book - I've read about them all on your website, and bought your book on becoming a writer (no time to read it yet, but it's by my bed!)

  8. Winners!

    Well to be generous (and because I had such a blast here) I decided to offer everyone who commented an autographed copy of ROUND THE CLOCK.

    If you're interested, please send your address to contactdara (at)

    Thanks for a wonderful time!