I thought it might be fun to think back over the past six or seven years of my writing career and think about the mistakes I made, especially at the beginning. No one is perfect.
Everyone screws up in one way or another.
I’m no different.
When it comes to writing itself, my biggest mistake, in the beginning, was trying to be a non-autistic author. And by that I mean, I read lots of advice in blogs, books, and online. All of it was geared towards neurotypicals (as is most self-help.)
Much of that advice is great–unless you’re autistic or neurodivergent.
And the mistake I made was trying to make myself fit into that mold. A mold I was never going to be able to fit into. Setting goals and tasks for myself that I was never going to be able to complete.
It led to burn out. Disappointment. And put me into a bad place mentally for a while.
I had to fight my way back to enjoying writing.
The biggest lesson I learned was finding what works for me.
Finding it and accepting that what works for a non-autistic author will likely not work for me. And that’s okay. It’s okay to need a little extra help from my publisher. It’s okay to not be able to do ‘all the must do things to be a successful author.’
It’s been a while since I’ve played with a new set of characters. I’ve been writing series for so long. Just bouncing from one longish series to the next. And I love all those characters, but I’m ready to discover new ones.
One of the first things I always do when creating a new character is find a visual reference. I’m not brilliant an creating an image in my mind. Some people are visual, I am not.
I know it when I see it.
But I have to see it.
So usually, I start by scanning Pinterest or maybe I’ve already seen someone on a TV show or movie or even an AD that has a vibe.
And that’s usually where the character begins to develop.
Nine times out of ten. My characters come face first. Name second. Motts is one of the rare examples of a character whose name came to me first.
I always knew she was going to be Pineapple Mottley.
But aside from Motts, it’s usually face then name.
Once I’ve figured out the face of the character, I begin building out who they are. Their interests. Their personality. I have a list of questions that fill out with a whole host of details about them from what movies they watch to what their favourite curse words are.
The goal for me is to be able to start the first chapter of my WIP fairly confident in who the character is.
So, I have a cork-board or bulletin board, or whatever you want to call it, above my desk. I use it for inspiration and a visual board for whatever book I’m working on. I thought I’d share what’s on the current one.
The top half is almost entirely book inspiration. Character and place references, etc.
My fave Hamilton sticker on the bottom left.
A couple postcards and a card with encouraging notes from friends. Sometimes I need a little lift of my spirits.
Favourite writing quotes that are always on the board.
You can’t see him, but I have a little plague doctor keychain that dangles at the bottom of the board.
Pinterest and my corkboard that rests over my desk.
My Book Bible (see photo). It contains all my notes about characters, places, etc. I occasionally keep them in Scrivener as well, but as that’s only useful when I’m at my desk. I find having a notebook version of it to carry with me is most useful.
Spotify. I have playlists for each of my stories.
A thumbdrive, for back ups. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to have a manuscript saved in at least two places for security purposes.
1. A really good pen. (Definitely top of my list, I’ve been writing by hand more lately. I use a Pilot Kakuno fountain pen that I got from Jet Pens. A nice beginner fountain pen that I’ve found is easy to use.)
2. Book Bibles, still on the top of my list. I no longer use Scrivener but exclusively use individual notebooks for each series.
3.Pinterest is definitely something I use for every single book I write.
4. The NaNoWriMo site. They’ve changed it so you can add WIPs and goals outside of November. So it’s a perfect tool to keep track of my progress.
5. My beta readers. They make my writing better and encourage me when self-doubt rears it’s ugly head.
The ones I’ve been using are technically ‘study with me’ videos. But they work great for writing as well. I’ve also been trying to make sure I get up and stretch during the break time. I’m terrible at sitting for long periods without moving around.