Monday, August 8, 2011

Author Quinn Barrett: Get Off Your Butt To Write

Please join me in welcoming author Quinn Barrett as the special guest qb2bblogger today as she tours blogdom with her current release, INVISIBLE SNOW.

INVISIBLE SNOW is a classic family drama about wealth, power, greed, and redemption. Marriage is a delicate dance of power between lovers, but Kate and Paul Delacroix are strangers caught in a disparate union somewhere between betrayal and truth. Confronting their true selves for the first time results in an epic clash of wills where only one will prevail. The legacy of the family business is at stake, but power is not always about money. Their showdown results in a shocking twist of fate—a destiny Kate never saw coming.
Quinn, a first-time novelist, takes readers on a riveting journey about personal empowerment and self-realization. She explores conventional perceptions about families and the illusions we attach to them. This complex family drama challenges us to consider the personal choices we make and why we make them.

With her first book behind, Quinn has agreed to share her thoughts on ‘How I Got Off My Butt To Write My Novel, INVISIBLE SNOW.’ She is also offering an eBook giveaway of her book. Read on for details.

For everybody who thought I was crazy to major in English... HA!

I did it... I finally did it.

Okay... yes, it took the better part of two years, but I wrote, re-wrote (more times than I care to admit), and published my first novel, INVISIBLE SNOW... and it feels great.

Like exercise, the hardest part of writing is getting started. Once I got going, the book developed a life of its own. Then it was about learning to stay out of my own way, trying not to make things difficult for myself by overwriting, and not micro-managing the flow of content.


Publishing one novel hardly makes me a confident expert in dispensing pearls of wisdom for other aspiring novelists, but then again, who better to give you a heads up on how to get going than someone whose keyboard is still warm from the finished product?

The number one question I get from friends, family, and readers is... how did you do it?

IS_CoverMy answer isn't going to surprise anyone -- there is no magic formula. What works for me might not work for you or someone else, but I have always found it interesting to hear and learn about the process of other writers so I have compiled Quinn's 7 Steps to Getting Your Butt in Gear to Write and/or Finish Your Novel:

1. Notice what works for you and keep doing it.
It took me several months to get into a groove. Once I did, I noticed a pattern to my more successful writing days. I preferred to write in the morning, but I was more productive at night; so I stopped trying to conform to an "office hours" ideology and wrote when the juices flowed which often happened to coincide with the swing or graveyard shift.

2. Don't get fancy... write about what you know.
I am from Southern California. I was raised in a dysfunctional Mormon family. Guess what my story is about? You got it... okay, there's more to it than that, but you get the idea. If I were writing about being a teenage Jewish boy in Paris, I'd have to do a hell of a lot more research. Unless your genre is sci-fi or fantasy... stick with what you know, initially anyway.

3. It's okay to get advice from other writers, but trust your instincts.
I've had many opportunities to join writing groups, but I shy away from these types of gatherings as I find them too subjective. If you ask a group of 12 aspiring writers their opinion, you could get 12 distinct opinions and you may feel pressured to conform. You may end up being more confused than you ever bargained for. Writer input is great, but be careful how many people you bring into the mix and have the backbone to ignore everybody if you are committed to your vision for your story.

4. Be willing to go against convention.
My novel,
INVISIBLE SNOW, has 74 chapters. More than a few people told me to consolidate the chapters because readers will psychologically shy away from books with high chapter counts. When I started combining certain sections, however, I knew immediately it hurt the flow of the book. I wrote each chapter like a scene with lots of dialog. Rather than infuse the novel with excessive narrative, I let the characters explain their POV in dialog. I took a chance, broke from the conventional approach, and I think the book reads better as a result.

5. Feeling uncomfortable can be a good thing.
Certain chapters and scenes are always going to be more difficult to write, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Give yourself permission to feel awkward, especially when you are writing a sad, poignant, or intimate scene. As soon as you find yourself mentally editing your work, you've got to shove those feelings of concern and judgment aside and go for it. The deeper you go as a writer, the more your audience will benefit.

6. Don't worry about the money... write for joy.
Worrying about marketing the book before you've finished your first draft can play serious tricks with your head. I have done a lot of copy and technical writing in my career. Fiction comes from a different place. The writing is its own reward on one level, but once the final edit is complete... hell yeah, I'm trying to conjuring up creative ways to make my book go viral along with thousands of other writers, but I think the actual process needs to be a more organic experience.

7. Get to know your characters.
First, I'll say that I don't think a writer truly gets to know their characters' strengths, idiosyncrasies, proclivities, and even phobias till the first or second re-write. Writers use many techniques to get inside the heads of their characters. One writer suggested that I cut and paste each character's scenes and lines into individual Word documents to read each individual character's dialog from beginning to end. Frankly, that sounded like too much work to me. Instead, I used a social media profile template (such as Facebook) to get to know minutia such as favorite foods, color, TV shows, movies and even my characters' favorite books. By the time I was done, I knew Kate's favorite color was blue, she loved sushi, soft rock, An Affair to Remember, and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

I have learned so much about myself during the writing, publication and now marketing process. There's so much more I could add, but none of this advice will matter an iota if you can't do one simple thing... get your ass off the couch, stop watching TV, put your Kindle down, or whatever excuse you're making that's holding you back, and just start writing... NOW!

Invisible Snow Giveaway
Connect with me on Facebook, like my INVISIBLE SNOW fan page, and follow me on Twitter to become eligible to receive an INVISIBLE SNOW eBook. Once you connect with me, email me at info@quinnbarrett.com. My first 10 new friends, fans and followers will receive an INVISIBLE SNOW eBook in the digital version of their choice: PDF, .mobi or ePub.

Quinn, thanks for guest blogging. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. If you don’t start writing, you can never have a finished book. Your 7 steps are very inspiring and helpful. Wishing you much success with your writing and INVISIBLE SNOW.

Now for a bit of background on Quinn. She is a native of Southern California, currently residing in the West Los Angeles area. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in English, she worked as a corporate business development strategist specializing in emerging growth technology, software and Internet companies. 

She is married and raising a teenage son. Her hobbies include reading, walking, golf, cooking and travel. For more on Quinn, her writing and INVISIBLE SNOW, check out these sites: her websites at www.invisiblesnow.com and www.quinnbarrett.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/quinnbarrett and www.facebook.com/invisiblesnow, and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/quinnbarrett.


If you’re a writer, do you have steps you follow when beginning a new story? As a reader, have you ever pondered the idea of writing? Thanks for stopping by and be sure to share your thoughts today.

10 comments:

  1. Quinn, thanks again for guest blogging. I think your steps would be very helpful for a writer, especially someone just starting. Best of luck with INVISIBLE SNOW.

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  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Quinn.

    Quinn - Thanks for sharing your answer to the question, "How did you do that?" Your ideas make a lot of sense, and are certainly worth thinking about.

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  3. Great post - I enjoyed reading your thoughts. The advice to what you know is always good! It makes such sense :)

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  4. Excellent advice. I certainly didn't worry about the money. And I've been lucky with critique partners - all three had read my first book and were on the same page with me for the second.

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  5. Great tips. It's nice to meet you, and I wish you much success.

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  6. Haha!
    Wonderful with a writer who realizes that it´s not everybody who can do it in the same way :)

    I love most of your advice, but I have tried # 2. The problem? My real life is quiet and boring so when I include too much of that, the story moves absolutely nowhere ;)

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  7. Quinn - You've offered some good advice there. Thanks for sharing.

    Mason - Should I admit when I saw the post title "Get Off Your Butt To Write" my first thought was - but I can't type standing up?

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  8. Hi, Mason!

    I love family dramas. Am inspired by the story-telling and relatability, and the dynamics found within. Good luck to you, Quinn! I wish you much success. :)

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  9. nice blog... have a view of my blog when free.. http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

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  10. Sounds like a wonderful book! I like that she writes when she feels the words flow and that she write from what she knows. Great tips.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.