July 31, 2023
Episode 31: Listener Q&A
All About the Enjoyment of
Writing a Book
Host Carma Spence answers questions that aspiring and novice authors often ask about finding joy in book writing.
Episode 31: Listener Q&A - All About the Enjoyment of Writing a Book
In this episode of The Author Switch Podcast, I answer listener questions about the joys of writing, staying motivated, maintaining creativity, and connecting with writing communities. I share insights from my experience as an award-winning author, offering valuable strategies and unconventional writing exercises to spark joy and creativity.
Recap & Takeaways
- 01:40 What’s the most fun part of writing a book?
- 03:50 What strategies can I use to stay motivated and enjoy writing the process?
- 06:32 How do I maintain a sense of creativity and spontaneity throughout the writing process?
- 10:06 What are some unconventional writing exercises or prompts that spark joy and creativity?
- 16:28 How can I connect with other writers or writing communities to share experiences and find joy in the writing journey together?
Transcript for Episode 31: Listener Q&A – All About the Enjoyment of Writing a Book
Hello and welcome to The Author Switch Podcast. This is episode number 31. And today I’m going to do something I haven’t really had an opportunity to do in the past and that is answer listener questions as the entire episode. So in preparation, I have the main question that I was going to say I was going to answer today, which is what is the most fun part of writing a book?
And then just to sort of make sure that I had enough questions to fill up at least 15 minutes, I went and I looked at some other questions that I’ve been collecting from people all around the theme of enjoying writing a book.
Just in case you didn’t know who I am, I am your host, Carma Spence. I am an award winning and best selling author. I’ve written five books, two of which made it to bestseller, one won three awards. I’m also a contributor to multiple anthologies, many of which went on to be international bestsellers. And I support authors and aspiring authors along their author’s journey. Helping them go from, I don’t know what to write, all the way to their books are selling like hotcakes.
So, listener question number one: What’s the most fun part of writing a book?
Well before I answer that, I need to give you some context. So what are the parts of writing a book? And the way I break it down is, there’s coming up with the ideas, which is pretty fun, I think. There’s the planning what you’re going to write part.
Which I think is pretty fun. There’s the writing it, which can be loads of fun. There’s editing. There’s launching. And there’s the ongoing marketing.
So, for every writer, different parts of that process are going to be more fun than other parts. In fact, there’s going to be parts of that process that you don’t really like.
Like, I don’t like the intensity of the launch. I like selling a lot of books. I like being bestseller, but I don’t like the intensity and the stress that comes with that. So my favorite part… And, and you kind of heard it in my voice. You heard some of what I like. I love coming up with ideas. I have way too many ideas because I enjoy the whole ideation process. And I have like a notebook and I have files on my computer that are filled with ideas for future books. So I love that part. I also obviously love writing. I’ve been a writer since I was four years old. I love writing. But, as I’ve gone through multiple books, I find the editing process is the most fun for me.
Because the writing process, that’s just getting the idea out of your head and onto paper and you come up with this rough draft. Editing is where you polish. It’s where you take your lump of coal that you’ve created in your first draft and you, compress it and you polish it and you turn it into this bright, beautiful diamond.
That’s my favorite part of writing a book. But if you’ve got a different favorite part of writing the book, put it down in the comments and let me know. Cause I’d love to hear what you love about writing a book.
The next question is: What strategies can I use to stay motivated and enjoy writing the process?
And I, and I came up with a few goals, a few ideas here, because being motivated and staying motivated is so important. In fact, I talked about that in episode 30, where I talked about from intention to impact. I talked about how important it was to get that intention to help you keep motivated so that you don’t lose steam.
So some ideas I came up with to help you stay motivated and enjoy the writing process is to, one, set clear goals. Know what you’re trying to accomplish, and that’s like the small goals as well as the big goals. There’s a big goal of what do I want my book to accomplish, but then there might also be small goals like how many words do I want to write today, and how many days a week do I want to write that number of words.
Set these goals so that you have your intention clear and you’re path forward and don’t set them enough high that they stretch you a little bit and challenge you because that often adds to the enjoyment of the process, but don’t make them so grandiose that you’re overwhelmed and stop enjoying the process.
The second idea was having a writing routine. And that’s not just, I will write from five to six in the morning every Monday through Friday or whatever, whatever. I’m talking about the whole ambiance routine of setting up your writing. So like when it’s time to write, maybe you light your favorite scented candle.
Maybe you grab your favorite pen. Maybe you have a favorite type of notebook. I love those composition notebooks and they must be in college ruled. I hate wide ruled. Create some sort of ritual around your writing time that not only sets your mindset to go into flow, which of course is totally fun, but also helps you keep motivated.
You look forward to that cup of coffee with the vanilla scented candle. Or whatever it is for you. A third idea is to write for yourself first. That first draft doesn’t need to be perfect. Write what comes out of your heart. What comes out of your desire to write this book. Write for yourself first. The editing process can make sure that your readers are taken into account, as well.
So those are my three ideas for helping you stay motivated. and enjoying the writing process.
Question number three: How do I maintain a sense of creativity and spontaneity throughout the writing process?
Now, a lot of that is subjective. So what will help you feel creative and, and spontaneous may be completely different than what I do. So I’m just going to share with you what I do or some ideas that I’ve also shared with clients. One idea is to do brainstorming. And by the way, there is a class on LinkedIn that’s all about brainstorming that is fantastic.
I know it’s mainly aimed at marketing, but you can use all those brainstorming ideas for any kind of project that you need to write. So in fact when I watched the class I have like pages and pages of notes on each brainstorming technique. I love brainstorming and some of those brainstorming techniques are aimed towards a team, but you could also modify them so that they work for you.
Some ideas for brainstorming That I enjoy is mind mapping. So you, you have your main idea in the middle and then you just draw your ideas out. Another thing I really like to do is get one of those large post it note pads that’s like huge. You post it on the wall. You take some of those fun smelly pens, you know, the ones that smell like grape or lime or whatever depending on what color they are.
I love those. I’m just a big kid and I do my brainstorming on the big pad and that, the brainstorming can be words, the brainstorming can be doodles, it can be anything that gets your ideas and your feelings and your emotions and your thoughts out and onto paper. And then once you’ve done that, let it rest for a few days.
Then come back to it and translate it into a document so that you have it for posterity and you can take it off your wall.
Don’t overthink your writing. That’s tip number two. Don’t overthink it. You’re going to lose all spontaneity. You’re going to kill your creativity if you keep overthinking things. Just let the first draft come out. Don’t keep going back. All I would do is what with each day, read the last few paragraphs so you know where you left off.
But don’t edit them. Save editing till the last because nothing kills creativity more than editing too soon.
Another idea is to find writing prompts and write about something outside of what you’re writing now. If you’re looking for writing prompts, you can find them on Google. All you have to do is go “writing prompts” and you’ll get tons of places to show it.
You can also show writing prompts for a specific like fiction or nonfiction or memoir or whatever and you’ll find them. And Every week, I drop a new writing prompt in my free group on Facebook called The Author Switch Club. So, you are more than welcome to join us at the Author Switch Club. Just go to Facebook.com/authorswitch and ask to join. And, it’s sometime in the weekend. Saturday or Sunday, I can’t remember which. I drop a new writing prompt every week. Most of the time, they are related to non fiction, but occasionally I’ll throw in a little poetry one or a non fiction one. This month and next month, all my writing prompts are summer themed. Just to keep it fun, because it’s the summer, right?
So, those are my ideas for that question.
Question number four: What are some unconventional writing exercises or prompts that spark joy and creativity?
Well, gee, I’m so glad you asked. Now the answer I gave to the last one will give you some places to look for these. But here are some additional ideas. And these are all things that I’ve actually done and can really help you stretch yourself.
So the first one is write in different genres. For example, in my fiction, I tend to write fantasy, science fiction, that kind of stuff. But I have experimented in other genres. In fact, my very first published short story is not science fiction. It’s what’s called in, in the science fiction world, we call it mundane fiction. It means that it doesn’t have any fantastical elements. It’s about a woman who loves the smell of coffee, but can’t drink it. So she likes to hang out in coffee shops and smell the coffee while eating a scone and some hot chocolate. And then there’s this guy that comes in and does the same thing and it intrigues her. And she kind of gets a crush on him and then it turns out he’s, we’ll find out.
You read the story, it’s called “The Aroma of Coffee” and you can find that on my CarmaSpenceWriter.Com blog. And just as a side note. It was that short story that got the attention of my now husband. So it’s, it’s done me really good. So, see what writing outside of your normal genre can do? It could find you a spouse.
Maybe not. Probably not. Anyway, just try your hand at writing different things than what you normally write.
Another idea is doing collaborative writing projects. I first learned about this technique when I was taking creative writing and like high school. They would partner you up with someone, and then we would do these writing projects where I would write a paragraph, then I’d hand it off to her, and she’d write the next paragraph, and then she’d hand it back to me, and we had this story developing that just went in wild and crazy ways.
And I did it again in my 20s with someone on a forum. We went back and forth with story. I would send him a story, uh, my, paragraph and he’d write from there and then he’d send it to me and then I’d write from there and it kind of stretches you out of the norm, gets your your brain thinking about different things and when you’re creative in one area it helps you be creative in another.
Another really cool thing is to use visual prompts. Now where do you find these visual prompts? You can go to someplace like Pexels or Pixabay or Unsplash and then just type a keyword and then all these pictures will come up, pick one and write a story about it. Seriously. Or, or, if you’ve been uploading and backing up your photos either in your phone or say, photos area of Google, randomly pick one and write a story about it that doesn’t really talk about what actually is happening in that story. Make something up.
Or, here’s another idea. Occasionally, if you go to like antique shops or thrift shops, they’ll sell old photos. I remember finding one where there was just this basket of like old photos that it kind of made me sad because I thought, you know, these people had lives and they had children and fathers. They had people who loved them and now their photos are in a basket at 10 cents a piece and no one who knows who they are. If you find such a treasure trove, pick up some of them and tell their story. It won’t be the truth, but it’ll be something interesting.
And my last one on this one is to rewrite fairytales or myths. Now a lot of people have actually published their rewriting of fairytales and myths and done very well. I’ve read several books that have taken that idea. In fact, I’m writing my own. I had this book of fairytales when I was a little girl called the big Orange Book of Fairy Tales. Apparently it was a part of a whole series. There was the orange book and the blue book, the green book. I had the orange book. And there’s a story in there about the Bird of Truth that I just really found interesting. And I’ve been working on this short story. Short story, novella. I don’t know what it’s gonna end up being, but I’ve got my villain.
I love my villain. He’s so deliciously evil. I’m still working on my heroes. I, I haven’t quite, I don’t know who they are. I mean, I know who they are. They’re a little boy and a little girl. They’re twins, but I don’t know. who they are yet. I haven’t really gotten into them yet. So that’s why the story hasn’t been edited.
I’m still trying to figure out who they are, what, what their drivers are, what makes them unique and wonderful and three dimensional because they’re still kind of two dimensional in my head. And that will make a crappy story. Anyway, that’s something you can do. And if you’re looking for some interesting myths that you can rewrite, one way to do that is go to Gutenberg. I think it’s gutenberg.org, and they’ve got old public domain books of fairy tales. Find one. Read it. Rewrite it. In your way. In fact, take it out of its context and put it someplace else, like, for example, I have a book in my collection from a author in Long Beach who took the story of Dracula by Bram Stroker’s Dracula, reset it in Japan with the main vampire being a, what do you call them? The guys with the swords. Shogun. Think, no, not Shogun. Samurai. Samurai. That’s the word I’m like, it was Samurai Vampire. But he used the same beats in Dracula. So do you can do that.
So there’s writing in different genres, collaborating with others on a fun writing project, using visual prompts and rewriting fairy tales and myths. Those are great writing exercises to help you have fun and be creative.
And the last, last question, is: How can I connect with other writers or writing communities to share experiences and find joy in the writing journey together?
So there, there are lots of writing communities you can join. So for example, I mentioned one, the Author Switch Club. You can join that. That’s online. Also, once a month on the second Sunday of the month, I do what’s called the Author Switch Sprint. And it’s sort of a combination of speed networking and writing time. We have a little bit of time up front where we get to know each other. Then we have 45 minutes of dedicated writing time where I’m right there. If you have any questions, you get stuck. But you have 45 minutes to work on whatever you’re writing, and then we follow it up at the end with a little speed networking.
You can find writers groups on meetup.com. You can also just Google writers workshops, writers communities, writer’s groups, and you’ll probably find some. Join writing challenges..
So, I’m going to show So, like, every November, there’s NaNoWriMo. That has communities built up around it. You can also find groups on all sorts of social media platforms. Facebook has tons of them. I belong to so many, and they’re all really, really active with people asking questions and getting to know each other.
So, there are of different places you can find fellow writers who write in your genre, write outside of your genre, that you can get to know, and it can be online. It can be in person. In fact, if you happen to be in the Minnesota Twin Cities area, I highly recommend that you sign up for the AuthorSwitch Sprint.
And in fact, go to authorswitch.com/livemn and that way you’ll be added to my list of locals, because as soon as I have enough people who are local, I’m going to be doing live events. So that’s if you’re in the Twin Cities, you go to authorswitch.com/livemn. If you’re not in the Twin Cities area, just go to authorswitch.com/live, and that’s my general call. So, every, both of those get invited to my second Sundays, but if you join the one at livemn, then you’ll also be added to a list where once I have enough people, I will be doing some right here in the Twin Cities area.
And other places you can find them are writing conferences, attend writing conferences, attend writing events, WritersDigest.com often has them listed, or go to a local bookstore. Pick up a copy of the magazine and they have a whole page with conferences listed and then go on writing retreats. Google writing retreat, and you’ll find plenty of them. I actually found even more by using ChatGPT to help me find them.
And I will be hosting, probably next year, a writing retreat. So if this is something that interests you, drop me a line, DM me, let me know, and let me know what kind of writing retreat you’re looking at, and maybe I might be able to point you in the right direction, or invite you to mine.
So those are five questions that people ask me about enjoying writing.
Now, if you would like your question answered in a future episode of the Author Switch, go to Authorswitch.com/podcastpage and there’s information right there on how you can submit your questions. You can submit them in text. You can submit them in audio. And you can submit them in video.
And if you do any of those and give me your name and… your business or whatever you want to promote. I will include you in the podcast with your name on there saying that you asked that question and that if people want to get to know you better, they can go to whatever permission you gave me.
So I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Author Switch. This is the end of episode 31. Ciao!