Our Friday Friend today is Jennifer Wilck who has two releases with Whiskey Creek Press later this year. First, Jennifer tells us a little bit about herself:
When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters’ numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).
One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary) and five years later, I’ve gotten two book contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith is coming out in June; Skin Deep is coming out in November.
In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I run youth group activities, train the dog we recently adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.
When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don’t like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn’t work, I can rewrite it. It’s very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I’d do things differently.
Organization versus Creativity?
When my daughter was a baby, she could entertain herself for great lengths of time by lining up her toys in rows. Not actually playing with them (or even the boxes), but categorizing and adjusting them into perfectly straight lines. It’s one of the stories I tease her with now, but the truth is, she gets that from me. I can’t function without organization.
For a long time, I thought that my need to make lists couldn’t possibly co-exist with my creative writing side. I’m the student who, when the teacher required an outline, rough draft and final copy, would write the rough draft first, the final copy second and the outline third. I’d make sure the outline matched what I had written and then turn it in on the first due date. While the rest of my classmates were scrambling to write their papers, mine would be done. The eight hours I spent in one day doing all this was just a necessary evil. In fact, the one time I tried writing the outline first, I ended up with my one and only D.
That grade was enough to convince me that I am a “pantser.” My writing couldn’t flow if I worked from an outline. Somehow, I had to figure out a way to put aside the organized side of my personality, the “plotter” side, in order to create something that flowed smoothly, made sense and followed the story arc that was in my head.
And to some extent, I’ve done it. The stories I write straight from my head are much easier to get down on paper as is. When I’m inspired to write something about one of my characters or an entire scene, and I have the time and ability to do it immediately, it’s a stronger piece of writing than if I planned it out first. I still write outlines, but as a means of keeping track of what information I’ve put where—which chapter has a physical description of my hero or heroine, which chapter do I begin to hint at the conflict, which chapter contains the first mention of a secondary character who will become important later on?
Where I have found my need for organization to play an important role, is in motivation and meeting of my deadlines. If I mark on my calendar to write my blog every Monday, I get it done. If I make writing part of my daily schedule and carve out a specific time, then it happens. In fact, I feel guilty if the time I set aside to write passes while I’m busy doing something else.
The things that make me the happiest, though, are timelines. Call me crazy, but I love them. I have a book coming out in June and another in November. The need to start marketing them has been stressing me for months now, but I haven’t known where or when to start and frankly, diving into the unknown has been making me nervous (which only makes me more stressed and thus, the vicious circle continues). You can’t begin to imagine how excited I was, therefore, to come across a marketing timeline in an industry magazine that I receive. It listed, in crisp, type-A-personality black and white, exactly what I should do when. No relying on my own feelings, no worrying about forgetting something, and no putting off doing it because I was unmotivated. There’s a deadline and I have to meet it. It was perfect!
There’s no one right way of writing (try saying that 10 time fast!). What works for some, doesn’t work for me and vice versa. Believe me, I’m not trying to convince anyone to use my crazy methods. But for me, it’s been a lot easier finding a combination of ways that works for me where I don’t have to stifle either part of my personality. I wish you luck in finding yours!
Thank you for being with us today, Jennifer. I'm sure many of us can relate to your opposing personality traits - I know I can! We wish you every success with your new books.
Visit Jennifer at her website: http://www.jenniferwilck.com/