You may remember last month, I had Devin as a guest poster on the website (you can read her post here). A few weeks later, I got the opportunity to send Devin some questions about writing, editing, and Story! She has some awesome answers, so be sure to read it below.
1. What does your usual writing day look like?
Usually my writing day looks something like waking up, wanting to write. Check Facebook and social media, get distracted by something online, make breakfast, run errands, work, dinner, get home, go for a run, think about writing, make supper. Think about/ procrastinate writing until about 10 PM. And then I start writing. (Which then I stay up pretty late.) Procrastination is something I’ve always dealt with in my art.
2. What do you want your usual writing day to look like?
I would love for my writing day to look something more like, waking up at 7 am every day to write. And by write, I mean writing for 3 hours straight. And then going about the rest of my day.
3. What do you wish you knew about writing before you started your novel?
Hmm… that writing a novel isn’t easy, but that In order to finish it one needs to keep at it and work until it is DONE. And then edit till it is done.
4. What is it about fantasy that draws you to write in that genre?
Ever since I was little, people told me that life wasn’t a fairytale, and yes… sometimes it doesn’t feel like good always wins in life. But in the end… good does prevail. Or at least in my life it will always prevail. I know this, because I was bullied a lot in high-school. I read fantasy, because it showed me I could combat dragons and that I was more than just a simple girl.
I’ve always loved Fantasy. Even though Fantasy is usually set in another world where fascinating beasts roam the wild land, and where tales and magic can be found in nearly every corner, I find it VERY RELATABLE to real life. We all find ourselves on a path to destroy a dragon at some point in our lives or find ourselves dealing with unfit, evil rulers from time to time.
Of course we don’t have magic to combat those things, but we do have gifts that can make the world better.
5. What are your greatest fears about writing?
That I’m not good enough. (I think this is every writer’s worry, but you have to keep fighting through it. The little judging monster inside your mind will mock every word you type. Ignore that little judging monster.)
6. What do you like most about writing?
I find it an amazing way to escape to another place, where the problems of the world don’t have to bother me. Then again, I find echoes of the problems in our world coming through in my own novels and writings. That is when my characters stand up to fight against those issues in different ways.
Writing is something I just have to do.
7. What effect has networking with others in the industry had on you?
I love networking. haha… if you ask my fiancé, he will tease that I love talking about marketing and networking. It’s true, though. I love connecting with people, because in doing so you are growing yourself as a writer and you are meeting new friends. Those you meet will teach you valuable lessons even if you don’t know it. They will show you things that worked or that didn’t.
8. What is your favorite thing to do when you just can’t seem to write?
I like Skyping with Johan. I also like watching some tv shows. I also like reading, but find it REALLY hard to read when I am editing. After editing a whole day, you don’t feel like working with more words when you want to relax.
9. What are your favorite things to eat/drink when writing?
I like pop. haha… which, is the midwestern term for soda. *wink* I also love hot chocolate and tea. Chocolate is also a must. But it has to be the good stuff, like Cadbury or Lindt.
10. You are in the midst of the editing stages of your novel, The Mason of Hearts. What is the biggest challenge that you face in this process?
There are a few. I’d have to say editing has been the hardest part of the writing a book journey that I’ve experienced so far. The current edit I am working on is EDIT NUMBER SIX. It’s hard to believe I’ve gone through the book so many times.
This summer I learned that author, Steven James did about 15 edits on one of his novels. I sure hope I don’t end up doing that many, but man do I look up to him for accomplishing those many rounds.
The biggest challenge at this point is fixing silly dialogue and adding more sensory details to ground the reader in the world. I also am working on strengthening a few of the character arcs.
11. What is it about editing that excites you the most?
When I reread something that has been edited well and realize how good it sounds. That is such a great feeling. Then you know you are on the right path.
12. What advice would you give to those who want to write, but don’t know where to begin?
My best advice is to just start. If you have trouble with not knowing what you want to write about find some prompts and free write. You can find prompts online or even with the game “Rory’s Story Cubes” (It’s also a fun game to play for game night!)
Another thing you could do is ask a friend for a character prompt, setting prompt, and a conflict. Then free write with those.
Many people who I meet also ask me how I get my ideas. It’s hard to say sometimes, because I find that when I’m standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in the train for the morning commute or on my daily run that is when a story or character runs into me. Literally and physically. It surprises me so much that I have to stop everything or anything I am doing to write it down. And if the stories that really want to be written, the stories will continue to stay with you until you write them. It’s your story begging to be told. The world needs to hear your stories.
13. What advice do you have for those who are working hard on their novel, but are having a hard time with self-doubt?
Self doubt. Totally know that feeling. My advice would be to tie up the little judging monster in your mind and throw the key away. And just write. I know this is harder said than done, but the truth is that self doubt will follow you throughout your life as a writer and also as an awesome human being. Because, we are rather critical creatures of ourselves sometimes.
I also find that free writing with colorful pens and paper really helps me unlock creative ideas from my sub-conscience.
Also, don’t show your FIRST draft to anyone. This will help with the self doubt. Don’t show your story until it is ready to be shown, otherwise it could stint your writing and revision process. You need to know how your story goes first before others give ideas.
14. What do you say to those who believe that you can’t learn anything from fiction?
That they are silly. Of course you can learn something from fiction. I believe a person can find truth everywhere in fiction and when you meet the characters they become a part of you. And you learn from their experiences, just like you would learn from a friend. I know there are times I’ve read a book and three years later I’ve found myself wondering about that character like they are a good old friend.
15. You are very active on social media. Where can readers connect with you?
Thank you for having me on your blog, Evan.
Yes, I love connecting with readers and writers online. I am most active on my blog, Twitter, and on Instagram. Come follow me! Totally look forward to getting to know you!
My website/blog: www.devinberglund.com