Tag Archive for: Sylvia Rochester

Fearless Creating: AKA Develop a Stubborn Streak

By Donnell Ann Bell

It never fails. I can be talking to friend Lois Winston via phone, topics ranging from world events to some mundane ailment we’re experiencing. Then always. . . always before we hang up, the next 15 minutes segue into critique partner Lois Winston.  This is the point in which we discuss writing and what we’ve learned or experienced over twenty-plus years.

Let’s face it, publishing has exploded since the early 2000s from the statement that e-publishing isn’t a legitimate form of publishing to printing and mailing off our synopses and manuscripts, then waiting and waiting and hoping for “The Call.”

In this morning’s phone conversation, Lois and I discussed my hack (more on that in upcoming posts – the saga is interesting and educational, I promise you) and why Lois, a traditionally published author turned indy author and marketing guru will likely never be on social media or hire a personal assistant.  As I listened to her very valid points not to enter this realm, I thought why should she? She does everything from writing, to hiring a narrator for her audio books, to designing and selling Anastasia Pollack merchandise herself! The woman is a machine!

Today’s phone call had us laughing, and somehow morphed into the importance of trusting our instincts. These instincts often lay dormant in the beginning of our careers because we haven’t yet learned or challenged the craft of writing. Further, so many experts (and many who think they are) stand ready to expound on how they do it.

One of the things I believe in is Fearless Creating. Am I suggesting never to take advice? Absolutely not. But what’s the point of writing if we don’t stay true to our vision, enjoy the process while we’re creating, and see what our imaginations and brains can come up with first?

I’ve witnessed authors taking a fine piece of writing, albeit a draft, in which the whole room applauded. An agent in the room requested a full. Later, when I saw  the piece again, I hardly recognized it.  Why did you change it, I asked. Oh, X had a problem with this. Y said it was too long, too short, the characters flat. Z suggested I write it this way.

This way is another person’s vision that usurps the creator. Doubt has a terrible way of worming into an author’s psyche from the moment we open a blank page. Further, there are so many outside forces these days willing to help us with our writing.

Author Sylvia Rochester

I had a dear friend who painted as well as wrote books.  Author and Artist Sylvia Rochester, who passed in 2022, had a wonderful saying. It’s one I think about when I’m writing, tweak my work, screw it up, and can’t get it back again. “The First Stroke is the Freshest.”

If you think you have something brilliant but can make it better, I suggest keeping a draft file. That way you can compare the two later. How often do you write something in the evening, think this is garbage and delete it? Putting the text in a draft file, come morning, you may see things differently.  I know I have. 

I call myself an experienced writer who still has much to learn. I enjoy critiquing with Lois and often do beta reads for other writers. Rarely do I suggest an author change an entire plot, or worse, try to “rewrite” it for them. It’s their story, their voice. I believe there should be a Hippocratic oath for Authors – Help but “Do no Harm.”

When I read, I focus on pacing, goal, motivation, and conflict. Do I like the author’s voice, and can I relate to the characters? I believe in critique partners and the oh-so-valuable-editor. Through it all, though, I’m grateful my muse is a formidable force. I’m also blessed with a stubborn streak.

What about you? Agree/disagree?

About the Author:  Donnell Ann Bell writes both romantic suspense and multi-jurisdictional task force plots, keeping close tabs on her theme SUSPENSE TOO CLOSE TO HOME. Her single-title romantic suspense novels, The Past Came Hunting, Deadly Recall, Betrayed, and Buried Agendas, have all been Amazon e-book best sellers.

Traditionally published with Belle Books/Bell Bridge Books, Black Pearl, a Cold Case Suspense was her first mainstream suspense and book one of a series, and a Colorado Book Award finalist. Her second book in the series, Until Dead, A Cold Case Suspense, released in May of 2022 was voted best thriller in 2023 at the Imaginarium Celebration Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  Follow her on social media, sign up for her newsletter or follow her blog at https://www.donnellannbell.com