Two more questions from the book club, and we'll move on to other topics.
I get these these two questions a lot, from both readers and aspiring writers alike.
1) How do you find time to write?
The short answer: I get creative. (I'm a writer; we're a creative lot, right?)
The longer answer: My writing time has shifted over the years. It sort of has to when adding babies to the family and as the kidlets go through different stages. The key for me is finding where the gaps are. It used to be nap times, for example. But I've also learned to use what I call "brainless" moments to plan ahead and to write in small snatches and with distractions.
I use brainless moments (like driving the car or sorting laundry) to think ahead to what scene I need to write next when I get the chance. And then when I have 45 minutes in the dance class lobby, I make sure to have my AlphaSmart Neo with me so I can make the most of that time.
This school year is a new one for me, though: My older kids are all in full-time school, and my youngest has preschool three days a week, giving me six hours alone at the computer. It rocks.
Another big key is prioritizing. I watch very little TV. I have very few hobbies. You make time for what is important to you, whether that's scrapbooking or writing.
2) How do you get your story ideas?
Since turning to temple-related historical fiction, I have a different answer than when I wrote contemporary novels. Back then I could point to a vivid dream, a radio show, a newspaper article, or other modern source for my ideas.
Now, I don't have any inkling about what I'll be writing until after I start research on my next temple. I read up on the settling of the area and the construction of the specific temple with no preconceived notions about what story I'll be telling about it.
This can be a bit unnerving. A couple of times I've gotten worried, when, a few weeks into research, I still have no characters or plotline.
But if I keep reading, immersing myself in the new time and place, it happens. Maddie from At the Journey's End popped into my head fully formed after a couple of weeks of researching the Honeymoon Trail. I had a similar experience with Tabitha, the heroine of my Manti book (currently awaiting acceptance with my publisher).
For me, the research process is like making a new friend. I have to find out all I can about the area and the temple, and as I do so, the "friend" (the book) reveals itself to me. (No, I don't need a strait jacket . . . I don't think.)
At times the characters and storylines pop into my head. For others, I can point to specific moments of research that led to certain character or plot element, such as a BYU paper I read about Mormons adopting or indenturing Native Americans in the 1850s. I immediately knew that a major character House on the Hill would be an adopted Shoshone boy. (Abe has since arguably become my most popular character.)
That's it for book club questions for the time being.
Next time, I'll explain what led up to this question posed to me several years ago:
Are you a nurse?
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