Please welcome romance writer Dani Collins. In 2012, Dani signed contracts for six books and put out her own indie title while holding down a day job and running kids to school, sports, and jobs. She’s pretty good at writing fast and is currently teaching herself to blog fast—including tagging a witty bio onto the end of her posts.
Tell me about THE HEALER.
Hi Peter. Thanks for having me on your blog.
Vaun is a Kerf General patrolling lands that belong to his people by treaty. Things are already going wrong when he intervenes with enemy traders to free a slave he thinks is Kerf, like him. She’s not. Athadia belongs to the mythical Alvian race of healers that his people fear. The first time they touch, she knows he’s one, too.
The Healer was supposed to be a historical romance—someone recently called it a cross between Highlanders and Vikings, which is how it turned out once I realized it needed its own world. This was a bigger challenge to me than researching real places and events. I’m a busy working mom who writes in that hilarious concept called ‘free time.’
Being time-challenged, I gravitate to quick reads and therefore mostly write shorter novels like my Harlequin Presents. But I knew this story needed a lot more space for developing all the layers that I wanted to put into it.
Sometimes, as a reader (and a writer), you want a story you can dig into and stay with for days (months/years). I wrote The Healer for that story lover.
Time is always an issue for me and when I began this story, my kids were still little. I wrote the first couple of chapters in a notebook before bed. A few years later, I decided to finish it for Nanowrimo, one of the best exercises in writer productivity there is.
(If you haven’t heard of National Novel Writing Month, it’s an informal challenge you set for yourself in the month of November to complete about fifty thousand pages.)
[Editor's note - This blog has a series on NaNoWriMo.]
What are your productivity tips?
Nowadays I love working off a synopsis, but didn’t have one for The Healer. Instead I
warmed up for Nano by doing the 30 Days of World Building exercises by Stephanie Bryant. Even if you don’t like preplanning, you might enjoy this. It’s more about finding the possibilities in your story than locking yourself in. I really enjoyed it.
Other tips for the time-crunched:
- Write before work if you have a day job. Yes, that means getting up at 5 am. It’s gross, I won’t kid you. (Ignore if you are a night person. I so am not.)
- Quit TV (mostly). I pick one or two shows as must haves. I currently excuse myself from writing for The Big Bang Theory and will drop everything when Mad Men starts up again, including laundry and cooking.
- Actually, never bother with laundry and cooking. (Says the woman with teenagers and an understanding husband.)
- Get a job writing to deadline. Mine was the local paper. I did it for 8-9 months and I learned to write fast and clean, ‘cause I got paid a flat rate of $25. The longer I took, the lower my wage.
- Self-doubt can really slow you down. Do some exercises in developing your voice so you feel confident about the words you’ve chosen. Getting the Words Right: How to Rewrite, Edit and Revise is a great resource for developing your personal writing style.
Question for Peter:
How do you balance the desire to write fast with the revision process, so you’re not creating a lengthy clean up once the first draft is done?
I work hard to keep the drafting and revising processes separate. One is right brain, the other left. I have found that, by generally bumping up my output, I have developed a lot of instincts that keep me from missteps during the composing process. In addition, I have developed some approaches that help pantsers add just enough structure to avoid pitfalls.