Write Like No One’s Watching

I’m pleased to have fellow writing friend, Rachel McMillan, here today! And I love her topic, too. Sometimes we writers can become paralyzed when we sit down in front of our computers. Today, Rachel gives us freedom to write like nobody is watching! The floor is yours, Rachel. . .

close the door

I love writing. When it is flowing and my finger pads are tip tapping their rhythm, almost as if propelled by a mind of their own, there is no greater euphoria in the world.  When it’s going badly, there is no void that aches so deeply.

I started writing when I was a little kid and have boxes and boxes of long-hand drafts of stories that will never see daylight– hidden in a Rubbermaid container.  I also have stories upon stories of typed words, snippets and novels-in-embryo stored in computer files and on USB drives.  It was not until about a year ago that I first showed someone a novel I had written, signed with an agent and finally plunged into a world of scariness.

You see, to this point, I had only written and edited and revised for myself. Then, frighteningly, my writing, my world, my delightful book people would be appropriated by other eyes, other readers, other interpretations.

Dickens famously knew more about his characters, their broad, over-bearing and perfect personalities, their picaresque journeys and their comical and tragic turns than ever went into the final product. Dickens wrote his best friends, his community and his passions and pursuits and fears and triumphs  seamlessly sewn into his elaborate prosaic puppet play.

There is romance in writing. Let it flow.

Famously, F Scott Fitzgerald wrote by the sentence whittling everything down and revising and revising while his contemporary and erstwhile friend and competitor Ernest Hemingway wanted to strip everything to the sparest form. He was a manly writer.  Alternatively, the flourished and flowery purple prose of a writer like LM Montgomery (who straddled the Victorian and the Modern period in terms of her writing career) was raked over the coals by male critics for writing pretty nonsense.

However you write, dear friend, write for the romance and for the love affair.  If your love affair is pitting a man against a beast with a gun in one hand and balancing a whiskey in the other a la Hemingway, then, do it, but do it for you and not because you want to consciously strip your prose to skeletal —especially in a first draft.  If you, dear friend, love to practice words that may not conjoin well, that may be dissonant chains of intermingling nonsense or forced similes or anecdotes that trail and fall off with far too many adjectives, then do it— if it gives you joy.  Write first for you.

My facebook and blog followers know that I am still feeling the persistent ache of losing my characters to submission. The moment I sent the book to my agent, a small gnawing cavern began growing in my heart. I miss my friends. I miss them all the time. I think about them all of the time. I wonder what they’re doing.  I wonder how to impart them in some next adventure.  I vowed, still uncontracted, that I would set forth on a new novel and not think about the next sequential story that features my dear book people. Easier said than done.  So I made a deal with myself. I could visit them. I could practice and play with them while simultaneously trying something new.

At this point, I am writing for me. For the grand romance that waltzes me with the words, that joins me with my imaginative (and by this point, very fleshed out) book family, to play and prod them further, to re-set them and shove them into grandiose adventures, here and abroad.

Writers, cherish your imaginations.  Not everything that you type on the page necessarily has to be of publishable quality.  Not every try and start and mixed attempt needs to have a planned endgame.

Every word has a purpose. Every word is a piece to a greater puzzle, a stitch in a patch that will sew up a quilt. Its practice, its perseverance and its romance, a tapestry threaded with triumph and failure, good words and bad, over-writing and underdevelopment…

Every word you read and every word you write should be a transcendent experience.

Read to the point of book drunkary. Write to the point of cross-eyed bliss. Whereupon, you wake up and you think of it, you drift to sleep with its scenes stained behind your fluttering eyelids.

Write like no one’s watching.  It might turn out to be the personal best and most unreadable thing you’ll ever write.  But, oh the gloriously, giddy adventure you’ll have when in its word throes.

rachelRachel McMillan blogs at A Fair Substitute for Heaven.  You can find her on twitter at @rachkmc. She is also a frequent contributor to Novel Crossing.


Things That Make Me Want to Write…


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It’s weird, what sparks my creativity. Usually, it’s random things.

For instance…

Country music.

I know, I know. Some of you might be rolling your eyes. Country music isn’t for everyone. In fact, I don’t really listen to it very often. But recently, my husband and I found a station on Pandora that we love. 90s country music. Because that’s when we both listened to it and every song seems to bring back memories.

Here’s the thing about country music.

It tells a story.

Often those stories involve love.

And often, those love stories get the creative juices flowing.

Something else that makes me want to write?

New places.

Recently, I found myself in Brussels.

I was traveling through on my way home from Kinshasa with a five hour layover. So I, along with my travel buddies, decided to venture away from the airport and see what we could see.

Walking around the narrow, cobbled streets, listening as passersby spoke in foreign languages, sampling the most delicious waffle I’d ever tasted, taking in the breathtaking architecture…

Yeah, that got the creative juices flowing too.

Other things that flip my writerly switch and gets the inspirational juices flowing…

– an inspiring sermon

– back road driving

– a good book

– people watching

– witty poetry or beautifully written stories

What inspires you? Have you ever been to Brussels?

Authors at Work


There’s this fun blog hop that’s been going around amongst authors and I’ve been tagged!

By the fabulously talented Dani Pettrey, I might add.

Do you know her?

I think everybody knows Dani, and if you don’t, you really should. She’s a best-selling author of romantic suspense and an all-around fabulous person. I had the privilege of debuting alongside Dani in May of 2012 when her debut novel, Submerged, and my debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, hit shelves at the same time.

To read Dani’s answers to the questions below, hop on over to Dani’s blog!

What am I currently working on?

I recently received editorial notes for my fourth novel, The Art of Losing Yourself, which will release in February of 2015. Which means I’ll be inside my deep, dark editing cave for a good month or two. I’m also in the midst of plotting another novella that will release in October of 2015 (my first novella, An October Bride, releases this fall).

A fun side project I’ve been working on whenever I have the time has been a Young Adult paranormal/dystopian-esque trilogy called The Gifting. I just finished book 2 and have sent it to beta readers to see if it’s any good. Writing outside my genre has been a great way to refuel my creativity.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Do I write romance or women’s fiction? I think the answer to that depends on who you ask. There’s plenty of romance in my novels, but my characters also have that deeper, inner journey often found in women’s fiction. Hopefully, when you pick up a Katie Ganshert novel, you will find an appealing and unique mixture of the two.

Why do I write what I do?

I write romance because it makes me giddy. I love creating the tension and the chemistry. Every time my hero and heroine fall in love, I feel like I’m falling in love all over again and anybody who’s ever fallen in love knows what a fun feeling that can be! I give my characters that deeper inner journey, because to me, that’s the story’s heartbeat. That’s the meat. Creating those journeys keeps me on my knees, which is where I always want to be. There’s no way I could write those journeys authentically without God paving the way.

How does your writing process work?

I’m a big plotter. My writing process starts with a character or a scene or a question I want to explore, and from there I build. I come up with a story goal and conflict. I flesh out the characters. I figure out the major plot points of the novel (opening disturbance, the point of no return, the climax, the black moment). And then I get out the note cards. I jot down ideas for scenes and play around with the order of things until I have a cohesive story line. Once the story is plotted, I write a fast and furious rough (and I do mean ROUGH) draft. Take a breather, then dive in for edits. My first draft is so sloppy that it’s often unrecognizable by the time I’m ready to turn the manuscript into my editor.

And now it’s my turn to tag someone…

Tag, you’re it Ronie Kendig!

It’s fun being sandwiched between two incredibly talented suspense authors. Ronie is not only a good friend (who I get hang out with on Wednesday), she’s a phenomenal writer! Hop on over to Ronie’s blog to read her answers to these same questions!