"Gabrielle Holly spins her stories in a way that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster you'll never forget!"
~Paranormal Romance Junkies

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting in the Mood - Writing When You're Just Not Feeling It

I was sitting in the backyard, stretched out on the chaise, laptop perched on my thighs, staring off into space. My husband said, “I thought you were supposed to be writing!”
“I am. This is the thinking part.”
Thomas Alva Edison is famously quoted, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
What a wise ass.
I know he was correct, but for me the ratio is more like 50/50. I spend a good deal of time daydreaming about what I’m going to write. And, I’m the first to admit that I really should devote more effort to actually sitting down to the keyboard and sweating out the words.
I’ve got a yellowed piece of paper pinned to the bulletin board by my desk that says, “Don’t get it right. Get it written.” The saying reminds me not to self-edit in the early stages. It’s not that the final product doesn’t have to be “right.” It absolutely does. But in order to be massaged into a novel or magazine feature, the words first have to flow from my noggin, through my fingertips and onto the hard drive. The “get it written” stage is a time for damn-the-torpedoes, stream-of-consciousness, down-and-dirty word generation.
Much of what I learned in school has flitted out of my brain, or has been buried so deep in the overstuffed file cabinets of memory that it would take hypnosis to retrieve. But there’s one lesson that remains as clear – and relevant – as the day I learned it. One of my high school English teachers – a quiet, handsome guy with a striking resemblance to G.I. Joe - taught a technique called “Rush Writing.” The basic principle is that you set a time limit and write whatever comes to mind. WHATEVER comes to mind. You write like your life depends on getting your thoughts in black and white. You record every trite, transcendent, redundant, original, ridiculous, practical, painful, joyful, embarrassing, shameful, proud, secret, vulnerable, loving, angry notion.
It is liberating and cathartic. And, if done honestly, it’s the most effective way I’ve found to discover treasure buried in your subconscious. But, just like panning for gold, you have to be willing and able to wash away pounds of silt to uncover one beautiful nugget - that’s what editing is for. But first you have to get your feet wet. You have to trudge into the roiling water and scoop up a pan full of muck - and trust that the right words are in there just waiting to be revealed.
I hope you find your treasure, Darlings!
xoxo ~Gabrielle

I have two new Erotic Romance titles available. Read them today and find out what happens when I daydream ;-)



  1. You know, I am really glad you posted this today, becuase I've been struggling with 'getting in the mood' to write for almost two months now, and I was really berating myself the most today on my lack of progress with my book. For the past week I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a way to get that 'mood' going again. I will definitely have to give what you said above a shot; it sounds like fun and hopefully will put that gusto back into my writing.
    Thanks! :)

  2. Thanks for the comment Jen! Set the timer and "get it written"... no fear! xoxo ~Gabrielle

  3. Hi, Gabrielle,

    Oh, do I identify!

    I force myself to write, even when I don't feel like it. I remember writing the last chapter of my first novel with a furious headache because I was coming down with the flu. But I had a deadline, and just couldn't vague it off!

    And I think I'll borrow that saying!

    BTW do you know about Write or Die? http://writeordie.com

    When I'm really finding myself going back to tweak every word - when I've revised one paragraph two dozen times - a little ten minute Write or Die session can work wonders.

  4. Hi Lisabet,

    Thanks for the recommendation for Write or Die. I purchased a copy this morning. Now we'll have to see if I can summon up the courage to attach consequences to my procrastination :-/

    I know it will be a good tool for me. When I was freelancing for newspaper I lovingly referred to deadlines as "the golden axe hovering over my neck."

    Thanks for your comment and for the ongoing support of your fellow authors. Your posts at www.lisabetsarai.com were among the first I read when I first started exploring the genre.

    xoxo ~Gabrielle

  5. Great post, Gabrielle. You inspired this writer today.
    Thanks so much for posting your book recommendation, Lisabet. I'm off to find Write or Die.

    Destiny Blaine

    1. Thanks Destiny. I'll have to keep practicing what I preach to catch up to you and Lisabet!

      xoxo ~Gabrielle

  6. I am a real believer in No Sweat, No Gain. Inspiration can strike me...but for it to stick with me, I need to work it, sister.
    I have to take that lovely little kernel and nurture it with thought and a Damn Outline. This need not be huge, but it does need to include a declaration of what my conflicts are: his, hers, theirs, external, internal.
    And It better have a hook concept from initial to final...or I am Dead Meat and I founder on the shores of my good intentions and come up with bad dialogue.
    THIS I can feel.
    And editing is my other name. So I pick at it until it sings.
    Ideas may come full blown from the head of Zeus, but great stories come from A Plan and putting a$$ in the chair!

    1. Thanks Cerise!

      My late grandmother was a voracious reader, a bit of an eccentric, and an all-around awesome dame. She had an odd habit of reading the last page of a novel first. It drove me to distraction! I couldn’t believe she would “ruin” the story like that. But she explained, “I want to know where I’m going.”

      Though I never employ her technique as a reader, I do as a writer. Before I sit down at the keyboard I know where my characters will wind up. However, formal outlining gives me cramps. I get to thinking about Roman numerals and subcategories and my head starts to throb. Instead, I loosely sketch out the story progression and plot points. I’ve “lived with” my characters for a while before I get underway, so I know what makes them tick and what they desire.


      I have yet to get from Point A to Point B on exactly the path I’d imagined. My characters always show me a better/funnier/more exciting way to travel. I write about that in my post “Listening to Your Characters – Following the Path of Least Resistance”. http://gabrielleholly.blogspot.com/2012/07/listening-to-your-characters-following.html

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment! LOVE IT!

      xoxo ~Gabrielle

  7. I really enjoyed this post. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who gets scattered and unfocused and has to remind herself to just write the damn thing. :)

    1. Thanks Tali. I'm really glad you enjoyed the post. I just did my first session with the Write or Die software. Worth the ten bucks!