Monday, May 16, 2016

Misha Gericke & Writing Advice

Please welcome my good blog buddy Misha Gericke to the blog today!
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About writing advice…

I like sharing writing advice, especially with new writers who are still finding their way. But when I know the writer asking for advice is very new, the best thing I (and any other experienced writer) can do for them is not to tell them how to write. 

Yes, I know. It’s so very tempting to want to make things easier for the new kid. I mean, we’re all a nice bunch of people. And we all remember (and still experience) the pain of having to find our way through our writing. 

But here’s the thing. “How do I write?” has about a million very complicated answers—all of which contradicting others in at least one way. The reason is simple. If a new writer asks “How do I write?” your answer will invariably be about how you write. 

So the safest answer to “How do I write?” would be: “I haven’t the foggiest.” 

As such, I have taken to advising new writers along the following lines: 

Find out what works for you. If plotting bores you, don’t plot. If pantsing gets you stuck and you hate that feeling, don’t pants. If you find yourself feeling trapped because you just want to get to the scene that inspired you, don’t write the story chronologically. If you feel writing chronologically helps you stay focused, then do it. If you feel like you keep killing your story because you’re editing too much too soon, find a way to prevent yourself from editing until the draft is done. Like… Whatever, man. 

There is no right or wrong way to write a book. The right way for each writer is whatever way that gets the project done. If that means that writer needs to stand on their head as they write, then so be it. 

But I think it’s absolutely wrong of writers (no matter how well-meaning they are) to act as if their way is the only one to succeed. So let’s see about stopping that trend, shall we? 


What’s the weirdest part to your writing method? (Mine is to write all rough drafts by pen.) 

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About the Book

First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.


About the Author

Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:



Excerpt

This had to be what dying felt like. Floating outside my body, waiting for that final link to my life to be severed, only vaguely aware of indescribable pain. More screams than I could count rose up around me. Hundreds of footsteps beat against tiles. I couldn’t open my eyes if I wanted to. Not when it was easier to listen and wait. People shouted for a doctor or an IV, or a thousand other things that made no sense. I listened to all the chaos, trying to untangle it in my thoughts.

Soon, I could go. The peace around me was so relaxing, completely out of place in the clamor I heard. I wanted it. To rest forever in that peace. Why not? There was a very good reason, but I couldn’t call it to mind.

A numb buzz shot through my body and shattered my serenity.

It happened again. Only this time was more of a sharp pulse. The third time jolted like lightning. The fourth…Hell. Suddenly, the screams were coming from me. My heart’s relentless thundering added to my torment.

Pain.

Everywhere.

My chest burned like fire. It hurt to breathe. Cold air drove down my throat and into my lungs, amplifying the inferno in my chest. My skin felt scorched. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t right.

I had to see. I had to understand why pain dominated my existence like this. My eyes were fused shut. My breaths grew shallow, trying
to draw air when there was none. I tried to clench my teeth. I bit hard plastic. A pipe. Cold air suddenly forced back into my lungs, out of time with my own breathing. This was wrong. It wasn’t safe. I had to see. The best I got was a little fluttering of my lashes.

A high-pitched beep shot through my head. It repeated again and again. I wanted to reach over and slam my fist into its source. My arm wouldn’t lift. Something kept it trapped. A scream rose up from the depths of my soul, but the pipe jammed inside my throat stifled the sound. I only managed a whimper, trying my best not to gag. More air blasted into my lungs against my will. What was going on? I was trapped in my own body, but why?

I needed to move. I had to move. Now. Before… Even… Even though… Panic gripped me. The beeps increased at a frenetic pace. I needed to move. To be gone. Didn’t matter where. Just not here. Not defenseless. Not trapped.

The air sucked out of my lungs. I gasped, choking on nothing, strangled by invisible fingers. I tried to convulse my body. To twist myself free of what’s holding me.

Nothing.

The air rushed back in a cold flood. Seconds later it left, only to return in the same amount of time.

There was a rhythm to the air. In… out... in… out… The breaths were slow—sleep-like. I concentrated on this rhythm, striving to clear my head. If I wanted out, I needed to think. Calmly. Clearly. Eventually, those irritating beeps slowed. I tried to focus past the sound.

Voices buzzed about me, adding to my need to see, to do something to protect myself. No one seemed to pay attention to me. Good. I could use that to my advantage. 

I centered my every thought on moving my little finger. It finally jerked, but collided against something solid. So the thing trapping my arm was physical and too heavy for me to lift. It was better to be trapped than paralyzed. With luck I could escape my restraints. I tried my other hand, but it was cemented stuck as well. Right leg. Left leg. Damn it! Both trapped. I had to move!

No.

No, I needed to stay calm. I tried to make larger movements, biting the pipe in my mouth against the urge to scream in pain. There was no wiggle room.

Fearing that I might be blindfolded, I focused on blinking. It worked. My eyes opened and the blur faded, revealing ceiling tiles. Why would there be tiles? Where was the canvas of hospital tents? The distant sounds of bombs dropping? The power of their explosions rushing through my blood?

No. That wasn’t right. I wasn’t there.

Where was I, then?

***
Can't wait Misha!!!

What about you? What's your favourite (or least favourite) piece of writing advice?
I always roll my eyes when I read the "Thou Must" lists. I've never followed a regular pattern in anything else in life, why should writing be any different?

46 comments:

  1. I've had writers, and even artists, try to school me on the "right" way to work before, without me even asking for advice. It's one thing to share your method if a person wants to explore other avenues for inspiration, but to insist it's the only way is anything but helpful. So yeah, I agree, it's not good trying to force your creative process onto others!

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    1. People have tried to school me too. Which is funny, because a lot of them never finished a book. :-/

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  2. congrats to Misha on her book!

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  3. Nope, there really isn't a right or wrong way to write. Not when it comes to personal style. Need to figure that out first before dumping a bunch of rules on a new author.

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    1. I agree. If an author asks something specific, I feel more comfortable with advising them, but even then, I try to make sure that they know there are usually multiple ways to achieve something.

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  4. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I remember 5 or 6 years ago writers/agents/publishers were particularly strident about things being done a certain way. I think things have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

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    1. Yeah I remember that too. A lot of people followed those rules like dogma without really understanding why those "rules" were made.

      Did a lot of damage, I think.

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  5. That's my weird writing habit, too. I have to hand write every story before turning to the computer. I think and create better that way.

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    1. Hehehehe nice to know I'm not the only one.

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  6. Great advice, Misa. Thankfully every writer has a different style, otherwise there won't be diversity in what we read. Wishing you much success.

    Hi Jemi!

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    1. I agree with you. Each writer brings something unique because every person is different.

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  7. So agree with you that there is no right or wrong way to write. Congrats on your book, Misha!

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  8. Great advice, Misha, and congrats on Endless!

    Jemi, regarding your question on writing advice: I think my least favorite part is writing advice that's a masquerade for "Buy my new book that tells you how to write!" It just feels so constant.

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    1. Thanks Jeff. Those "Buy my new advice book" tips really tick me off.

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    2. Jeff - totally agree! That's incredibly annoying - and far less effective than the marketer hopes!

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  9. Awesome advice! I agree there are so many different ways to write, and no way is the right one. I usually tell new writer to just write and worry about everything else later!

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    1. I do the same.

      And I also tell them not to go to the internet for advice unless they want a solution to a specific problem. (Help, plotting is boring me. Answer: Try pantsing.)

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  10. I think the only way to learn the art of writing is to write. It takes time to find one's own voice and method for writing. I'm still working on it and trying different methods, techniques and exercises to be the best writer I can be. This is an ongoing process and takes years and a lot of perseverence :) Thanks for the post, Misha and congratulations!

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    1. Absolutely.

      Glad you enjoyed it. :-)

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  11. Congrats again to Misha! Hope her book is a smashing success.

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  12. Thanks for letting me visit, Jemi! x

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    1. So glad you were able to stop by for the visit Misha!

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  13. Misha, I agree we all have our way of writing... I don't write novels but I still have my own way of writing... Good luck with the book, I wish you much success xox

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    1. Thanks Luanna! And thank you for stopping by and showing your support. :-)

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  14. A perfect example of no advice being good advice. We all have our own ways and methods. Love Misha.

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    1. Thanks Susan. Sometimes no advice is the best advice. ;-)

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  15. Congrats, Misha! I really don't get the people who think their way is the only way to write. We all have different paths to get there.

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    1. I hear you. The phrase "stay in your lane" comes to mind. ;-)

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  16. Neil Gaiman and Stephen King give the best writing advice which is mainly "Just write". That is excellent advice. And they don't force such thoughts down people's throats which is a plus. Congrats Misha and good chat.

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    1. Yeah "Just write" is probably the best advice out there for new writers. :-)

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  17. Great advice Misha. And so awesome that you write rough draft by pen.

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  18. Jemi, thank you for dropping by and leaving a thoughtful comment... for me, this was a real person I have known for many years who flipped 180 degrees... it's sad that people can hide who they are for that long.... Have a great week ♡

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    1. You're very welcome. It's SO hard when you see beyond the surface. What a difficult thing to go through! *hugs*

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  19. Hi Jemi! Misha gives some great advice. I always bite my tongue when new writers start talking to me. It's such a long learning process...

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  20. Well said! Art should never come with a list of "must do."

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  21. Wow, I wish I'd read this advice years ago, when a newbie in my critique group came to me expecting I'd have "all the answers." I pointed him to a few books that helped me. He got stuck in a revision doom loop for a very long time, when he needed to be encouraged to just experiment.

    Weird part of my process? I like to interview and verify things with real-life experts. Blame it on training as a journalist, but I get the most interesting plot twist ideas this way. For example, a volunteer firefighter generously talked me through the entire process of responding to an emergency call start to finish. Nothing on the Internet can substitute for that!

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  22. Hi humans, Jemi and Misha,

    Oh yes, like a starstruck groupie dog, I've been following the amazing Misha during her tour.

    A most thoughtful pawst with plenty to consider. Indeed, when it comes to writing, my human and myself just write whatever comes to mind. No set method and I haven't the foggiest either.

    Pawsitive wishes and all the beast, um, all the best.

    I'm outta' here, eh and arf!

    Pawsitive wishes from Penny the pawblisher.

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  23. To be honest, I don't read a lot of rules anymore about writing. I think I know what works for me, and that's what I try to follow!

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  24. I have been seeing Misha everywhere! So happy for her and I wish her the best of luck!

    Very true that different things work for each writer. Finding out what works best for us may take some trial and error. :)
    ~Jess

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  25. This resonated with me. We all write in different ways.

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  26. Draft in long hand by pen? Oh, my! Awesome for you though Misha!

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  27. Every writer writes differently.

    Congrats Misha!

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