Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guest Blogger- Roberta Isleib

Today we've got a treat on KwanaWrites, a guest blogger, Roberta Iselib who is here to share a few secrets with us. Take it away Roberta!

Six Secrets for Keeping Your Sanity While Chasing Your Dream (Writing, that is!)

Clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib has just seen her eighth novel published in seven years. ASKING FOR MURDER is the third book in the series featuring advice columnist/psychologist Rebecca Butterman. Roberta’s also wrapping up her year of service as president of National Sisters in Crime.

In ASKING FOR MURDER (Berkley, 2008), Dr. Rebecca Butterman's dear friend, a sandplay therapist, is found badly beaten and left for dead. Rebecca's determined to help search for answers. With a would-be killer on the loose, she can only hope the clues are buried within easy reach. Think: best friends, crazy families, and the mysteries of sandplay therapy.

ROBERTA: Thanks for agreeing to host me on your blog Kwana! It’s hard to believe eight books have come out since SIX STROKES UNDER in 2002. I promised I’d try to pull together some of the things I’ve learned over this time and here they are, in no particular order.

MAKE A PLAN: As I begin a book, I look ahead to the due date and figure out how many pages I’ll need to write each week in order to hand it in on time. I build in time for trips and family and time for my writers group to read and critique, and then time for me to rewrite. Then I have a page goal for each week. I write until I’ve hit the goal, sometimes even getting a little ahead. If I have an unproductive day, it just means writing a little faster later in the week to keep up.

HAMMER IT OUT: Get it all down, even if it's awful. You can always go back and fix things later. Anne Lamott called this “the shitty first draft”—she had it right!

SET YOUR SIGHTS HIGH: As a psychologist, I know the importance of having "big goals" for my subconscious to aim at. So I keep a copy of the NY Times bestseller list pasted up over my computer. Then I forget about it and work on the books word by word...

FIND A BALANCE: The business part of writing is hard--the part I have no control over. I can produce a fabulous book, but unless the publisher is really behind it and I have a bit of luck somewhere along the line, it's unlikely to be a commercial success. That's why I do as much as I can to promote, as long as it doesn't interfere with my writing! I want to be able to say I gave it my all without killing myself in the process.

MANAGE YOUR PROCRASTINATION SOFT SPOTS: I’m still learning that I don’t have to answer every email the second it arrives! If I’m having trouble concentrating, best approach for me is to turn the email off and look at it as a reward for when I’ve reached my word count goal.

YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE FRIENDS: Writing can be such a lonely, discouraging business. I’ve gotten very involved with mystery organizations (Sisters in Crime and MWA, and joined Romance Writers and Yahoo groups such as Fiction That Sells. The friends I’ve met there have saved my sanity and supported me endlessly along the way.

TAKE YOUR TIME: Don’t rush off too soon to try to get your work published. This business is extremely competitive so it’s crucial to have your writing polished before sending it out. The Internet makes querying too easy—don’t press send until you’re sure the piece is the best it can be. I have lots of info on my website about agents and getting published and some of the scams writers fall for. Read it over when you’re ready. http://www.robertaisleib.com/


Wonderful advice! Thanks so much for guest blogging here today Roberta. Stop back anytime. Everyone check out Roberta and her amazing books. You won't be disappointed.





Best,
Kwana



P.S. Scroll down for "reality" rundown

19 comments:

Chris Redding said...

What great tips. Thanks for sharing them with us.
Chris Redding
http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com/

Roberta Isleib said...

You're most welcome Chris. Thanks for stopping by at Kwana Writes.

pve design said...

Fabulous tips on polishing a dream into a craft!
What a crafty writer with a beautiful spirit.... I shall add this book to my list.
Always good to have tips, plans, lists and friends!

STORIDIVA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
STORIDIVA said...

This is awesome. I was jumping up and down when I read the HAMMER IT OUT part AKA shitty first Draft.
That’s what I do and what I tell—no what I ask everyone to do. When you have an idea, GET IT ON THE PAPER!(or screen as we do it nowadays).

Manage Soft Procrastination, I am almost faint with joy that someone feels the way I do about it.

Everyone of these tips are a gem and I plan to use them as my literary bible to get my novel done.

Thank you Kwana and Ms. Isleib.

John said...

That's great advice for all of us aspiring writers. (I should probably print a copy...) Thanks, Roberta!

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

Great, great tips and advice!!! :-)

©Hotbutton Press said...

What a great blog.... we must send Nora Blackbird over here to check it out! ;) I'll also check out Fiction That Sells at Y!, although I have to admit the support groups online can be way too much fun. It requires some serious discipline to stay on-task.

So, I'm curious, what kind of a new outfit would you recommend for Dr. Butterman?

Dani
http://www.jungleredwriters.com

Roberta Isleib said...

Thank you all for the kind words--hope the tips help! And Dani, brilliant idea...let's get Kwana's fashion advice for Dr. B. She's definitely a little stodgy in her dress:).

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

What a terrific blog! Thanks for bringing me here, Roberta...and for the great tips, too. I also turn off my email..it's too tempting.

And the first draft? I tell myself every day--just DO IT. I can fix it later.

And interestingly--when I read it later, I can't tell the difference between what I wrote on the days I was having trouble and the days the words just seemed to flow.

Now Kwana! You got me. I'm addicted to Project Runway. It's got imagination, creativity, competition, and fashion! I adore it. I loved Daniel Voskovich, and Laura Bennett. Now I'll come back here every week and watch it with you!

zhadi said...

All of the tips were great, but this was my favorite: 'E A PLAN: As I begin a book, I look ahead to the due date and figure out how many pages I’ll need to write each week in order to hand it in on time. I build in time for trips and family and time for my writers group to read and critique, and then time for me to rewrite. Then I have a page goal for each week. I write until I’ve hit the goal, sometimes even getting a little ahead. If I have an unproductive day, it just means writing a little faster later in the week to keep up.'

I recently starting doing this and it's keeping me sane and relatively unstressed about my deadlines.

Kwana said...

Thanks for all the wonderful comments. I'm so glad you all have stopped by today and so thankful to Roberta.

As for fashion advice for Dr. B hmm... wouldn't it be fun to have a PR contestant design something for her. I say have Jerell do her up. You know he'd have her in a jaunty hat!

Hank, I'm a fan and so glad you came to visit and the fact that you're a PR fan means we're sisters in our heads. Please stop back again and leave your opinions I love to dish Project Runway!

Helen Ginger said...

Excellent advice Roberta.

I agree with you on everything, esp the email. I don't have a program that alerts me with every message that comes in, but even so, I check the mail three or four times a day. That's crazy! I resolve to cut back on email.

Louisa Edwards said...

Great tips! The one about having friends really rings a bell. If I didn't have a good circle of writing buddies to commiserate with on a regular basis, I'd be sunk!

Lillie Ammann said...

Roberta,
I'm another of those folks learning I don't have to respond to e-mail immediately.

I am reading Preaching to the Corpse on my new Kindle. It was the first book I bought as soon as the Kindle arrived, and I'm really enjoying it.

Deborah Blake said...

I agree about the value of having friends in the trenches with you. I've made some fab online friends since I've started pubbling my NF and looking for an agent for my novels. Not only have many of them been amazingly helpful, but they are great for reminding me that people really DO succeed, often after years of plugging away at it.

Maryann Miller said...

Glad I caught up with you today, Roberta. Wonderful advice, and I, too, ascribe to the Anne Lamott approach to writing. It's almost time to read her book again to get back in balance.

And BTW, thanks for steering the ship at SInC so well this past year.

Roberta Isleib said...

Thanks again for all the comments and to Kwana for hosting a great party!

Lise said...

This is a wonderfully practical, even-tempered and reasonable list of guidelines. This business makes it all too easy to drive oneself mad with overly optimistic expectations, or get overburdened by the pressures of what an author is required to do, both before and after a book is sold.

Thanks for the great advice & good luck with your wonderful series!

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