Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Confessions of a Sophomore Author – Part VI - Tuning out the Noise

Passion is what makes life worth living, la mia ragazza. If you don’t have it, your soul dies a day at a time. Stop thinking of what you must do and start thinking of what will save you.

The quote above is from my latest WIP due to come out next summer. The very wise patriarch of my Italian fashion dynasty is one of my favourite characters in the book. Flawed, charismatic and casting a wide shadow over the family he has kept bound together, he has achieved the pinnacle of success, yet he has also made far reaching mistakes. He knows what it’s like to live without boundaries--to pursue his passions--and while he may have regrets, he wouldn’t change any of it. It is who he is.

My sage old genius inspired the subject for this month’s Confessions of a Sophomore Author.  It occurred to me I’ve been having some impactful conversations with other writers of late, about the ‘noise’ around writing. About the part of it that doesn’t go down on the page. As I type ‘the end’ on my sixth book, I feel like I’m beginning to learn what works for me.

The possibilities to drown yourself in the noise are endless. How much marketing do I have to do? What kind of marketing should I be doing? Sadness when a person doesn’t like my book. Happiness when someone else raves about it. How am I selling on a list? Should I write a story like that because people seem to like them?

The thing is – even if you did write that book – by the time you got it to market, something else might be hot. Something else probably would be hot.

I’ve found the answer to many of these questions lies in why I started writing in the first place. I write because I love it. I write because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. My husband used to find me in tears on the last day of vacation because my writing time was over.

That’s why I write.

I write because stories burn themselves in my head when I’m falling asleep and I have to get out of bed and scribble down notes before I forget them. I write because of the brainstorming session I had in the car the other day with my writer friend. We brainstormed the entire plot and characters for my next book, the only interruption our laughing fits at the truly comical scenes we were creating. We even wrote in the nasty woman in the expensive car who refused to let me change lanes, turning my usual easy going personality into a boiling cauldron of rage.

I’m going to write that book next (if my editor thinks it as wonderful an idea as I do), because it makes me smile. Because my passion for the story will translate onto the page. I’m going to continue to create characters who inspire me, like my former Las Vegas stripper who appears in my fifth book, The Magnate’s Manifesto. It had always been fascinating to me the women who put themselves through school or support a family while getting up on stage every night in this whole other world.  How would you feel when you left that life and created a new one for yourself only to have your past come back to haunt you at the very worst moment?

That character, Bailey, is why I write.

Putting fingers to keys with stories I love may be the best way I’ve found to tune out the noise, but I have also learned a few other things are key:

Step away from the Internet – You can’t make your word count while you’re on it and you’ll definitely be distracted with all the entertainment it has to offer. A time management consultant once counseled me to turn off my email and do blocks of work. Allow yourself to take breaks at scheduled intervals to check email/twitter. Your word count will thank you for it.

Don’t just market/Do what works – Track your marketing so you aren’t spending time on useless activity that isn’t accomplishing your goal of reaching readers. There are tons of free analytics out there available to help you do this. Play around with it, try different things to find the combination that works for you.

Stay even keeled about reviews – Every month we read great books in my book club. But inevitably half of us confess we ‘couldn’t get into the book’ or ‘it hit a nerve and we couldn’t do it’ or ‘it just wasn’t our thing’. This is the thing about reading. It’s personal. This is going to happen in reviews too.

At the end of the day, writing is a career. It takes discipline to sit down every day and write, especially the days when it’s harder. And as emotional as writing is, you have to be unemotional enough to detach yourself from your work so you can treat it as the career it is, with all of its roller coaster stops. We aren’t saving the world here. Hopefully we’re helping someone escape from a tough day for a few hours, shed some tears and smile when somehow, against all odds, our alpha hero gets down on one knee and confesses he’s been all wrong to the love of his life.

That’s why I write.

What about you? What ways have you found to tune out the noise?

JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst. Her career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books at her website. Her latest release, The Truth About De Campo, the finale in her Delicious De Campos trilogy, is available now.


  1. Great advice Jennifer and so happy for you that it is all going so well :)

  2. Yep - I agree with all of the above! I'm a demon for social media and have learned the only way for me to tune it out is to turn it off, otherwise I'm checking twitter every five seconds! I still check in a couple of times a day but am nowhere near as bad as I used to be :-) xxx

    1. Ha ha. Glad I'm not the only one Michelle xx

  3. Another social media demon checking in here too...LOL...

    thanks so much for this, Jen..every bit of it is true for me too..sometimes I beat the noise and some days the noise gets me..but like, Michelle, I'm trying to get better too...

    1. Hi Sri! I completely hear you. Some days the noise is louder than others :) Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Wonderful advice, Jen. Loved reading this. :)

  5. I love your wise old patriarch already! Great advice Jen... there are just way too many 'noise' distractions all around us. I suppose you have to try and be the master and not let them take over your life. Easier said than done some days though! Andie

  6. Thanks Andie! So true but like when my husband laughs at me when I say I'm going to bed early, it's always worth a renewed effort :) So glad you stopped by!