Teresa Trent writes her Pecan Bayou Mystery Series from Houston, Texas. With a father in the army, her family moved often finally settling in Colorado. Living in Texas for the last 18 years she loves the people and even the weather. Teresa includes Danny, a character with Down Syndrome in her Pecan Bayou family and in real life is the mother of an adult son with Down Syndrome/PDD. Creating the character of Danny and all of the other inhabitants of Pecan Bayou has been a joy for her. Even though she lives in the big city, her writing is influenced by all of the interesting people she finds in small towns and the sense of family that seems to be woven through them all. Teresa is touring with Great Escapes Virtual Books Tours for the release of her latest book in the Pecan Bayou series, BURNOUT. You will find my review below and there is a giveaway. Just leave a comment for Teresa and then go HERE. Today, Teresa is going to tell us about avoiding writer’s burnout. Welcome Teresa.
Avoiding Writer’s Burnout
by Teresa Trent
When I announced to a member of my family the title of my fifth book would be BURNOUT, he quickly emailed me back and asked if this was how I was feeling about writing. Okay. He had me. The title of my fourth book was BUZZKILL and my fifth book was BURNOUT. It doesn’t sound very positive, but honestly the titles of the books do not at all reflect my feelings about writing. On the contrary, it seems like the more I write, the more I enjoy writing.
Like any other person on the planet, I am over scheduled. I am not a full-time writer. I split my time between writing, a couple of part-time jobs, and my family. The idea of burning out in the process of writing is pretty tough for me to do. When I do get time to write, I cherish it and wish that I was more productive than I am. As my writing time increases I find it easier to work through the many drafts I produce in writing one book. If I have to take long gaps in my writing, then my plotting suffers. This is my form of burnout. It doesn’t occur writing too much, but from writing too little.
When you are writing consistently you can remember things from day to day. If you write one day, then come back a week later chances are you will have a hard time remembering just what you were trying to do.
I also find myself wanting to quit while in the throes of revision. It is sometimes tedious, and often confusing for me as I go back through the story and realize that I have character movements, settings, plot twists or whatever that might not be working. Sometimes my frustration level at this point can lead to burnout. Here are some strategies that I use so that I can return to my manuscript within 24 hours. If I take any longer than that I risk losing my fluidity of thought.
*Make a note of what the problem is. This is where you have to create your own editor in your head. You’re a writer-it ought to be easy make one more character. Sometimes I will write myself notes like this: “Really? This is never going to work. Change this and then change that or think of something.” I really write it like that. So in this instance it’s okay to talk to yourself to define the problem and start brainstorming your way out of it.
*Go do something, but keep the problem simmering in the back of your mind. Sometimes I go garden and think about things as I’m digging in the dirt. Menial tasks work best. I‘m no longer staring at my computer screen and somehow that helps to pry loose answers to whatever plot problems I may be having. Taking a walk is good for this as well. Just don’t talk to yourself in front your neighbor’s house.
*Go back to your manuscript and try not to let more than 12 to 24 hours pass. Take too long and you will not only lose your train of thought, but you start to lose your excitement for the piece. In the early stages of writing a book you are the only cheerleader for that story that you are telling. If you aren’t excited for what you are trying to produce than nobody else will be either.
*Immediately write down the ideas that you came up within the time you spent away from your manuscript. Go through each idea and look back at your scene list to see how you can incorporate them into what you already have. If you now know you have to get rid of something, start finding the scenes that involve the character or idea that you need to eliminate. Never delete anything totally. Sometimes I take sections out that aren’t working and I put them in another file. Maybe I’ll use that section later and maybe I won’t, but there’s always a chance I have something in there that’s worth salvaging. Just because Stephen King threw his first novel Carrie in the trash, doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing.
*Start reworking your story.
The strategies above may help you avoid burnout. Just remember that when you are writing something as long as a novel, the chances of you making a mistake are pretty good. Be prepared for your mistakes and make a plan to fix it. Once you understand that few writers get it right the first time, the chance of writer’s burnout decreases.
I hope you pick up a copy of my cozy mystery BURNOUT! Betsy is famous for burning things in the kitchen, but this mystery has a fire she didn’t start … Thanks for letting me come visit!
Burnout (Pecan Bayou Series)
E-Book File Size: 895 KB
Print Length: 202 pages
It’s November in Pecan Bayou, Texas and while the town is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday a deadly fire breaks out at the newspaper office. When Rocky, the editor is nowhere to be found, Betsy refuses to believe he has perished in the fire. The entire town is coming down with the stomach flu and Betsy must deal with her husband’s new found celebrity as an on-air weatherman filling in for and under-the-weather Hurricane Hal . Leo loves all the attention he’s getting, especially from the sexy administrative assistant who works at the station. Is their new marriage in trouble already? Find out in the fifth book of the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. All the characters you’ve come to know and love are back and you’ll find plenty of the Happy Hinter’s recipes and tips included at the end of the book.
I have been enjoying this series and it has only gotten better with each installment, including this one. The story opens with the burning of the sixty-three year old Pecan Bayou Gazette building on Main Street. Is Rocky the body inside? I love the character of Betsy. She is so real. Leaves her son in a crisis to run and pee. Real life so rarely makes an appearance in fiction like that! She has problems with her son and is also jealous about her husband and a coworker, possibly she’s… oh wait, my guess, you read and find out. This one is ♥♥♥♥♥
An hour later, Tyler and I walked into the Harvest Dance with our arms full of every baked item we could get our hands on from the grocery store. The tables were already covered in sparkling autumn colored table cloths with tasteful pumpkin and scarecrow centerpieces. It was stunning, and I hated to plop a box of Tasteeo Cupcakes on top of it all.
Phyllis, dressed in a mustard turtleneck with a maroon silk scarf tied around her neck approached. “What is this?” Her face turned white, and then was replaced with a complimentary fall color of scarlet red.
“Uh…” I stammered. “I had a little difficulty with the pumpkin squares, but you know kids. They’ll eat anything sweet, right?”
I waited for her to reassure me, but she seemed to be at a loss for words.
“You want me to open up these boxes, Betsy?” Tyler asked.
“Yes, if you would. I’m sure Mrs. Hamlin has lovely plates for us to put these on.”
Phyllis gritted her teeth and turned toward Tyler. “There are some paper plates over there.”
She turned back to me and took hold of my arm squeezing tightly on my bicep with her tastefully manicured nails.
“I specifically told you to make the pumpkin squares. If I wanted a hodge podge of junk food I would have simply stopped down at the Circle K Convenience store.”
Another mother stepped by with her freshly groomed son in tow. “Lovely tables Phyllis,” she said with a little wave.
“Thank you Shelley. We work very hard to make it a wonderful experience for our children.” Somehow I knew she wasn’t including me in that statement.
“I tried to make the pumpkin squares, but we’ve had flu at our house, and … I lost track of time, and they burnt.”
“Then why didn’t you just make another batch?”
“There’s not a can of pumpkin left in the entire town.”
“Yes, there is. I have four cans of pumpkin in my pantry. All you had to do was call me.”
The principal walked by. “Beautiful job, Mrs. Hamlin. Don’t know what we’d do without you.”
April 14 – Traci Andrighetti’s Blog – Review
April 15 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review
April 16 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
April 17 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Guest Post
April 18 – Books Are Life – Vita Libri – Review
April 19 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Guest Post
April 20 – EASTER
April 21 – Michele Lynn Seigfried’s Blog – Guest Post
April 22 – Community Bookstop – Review
April 23 – readalot blog – Review
April 24 – Back Porchervations – Interview – Review
April 25 – rantin‘ ravin‘ and reading – Review, Guest Post
April 26 – off
April 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Guest Post
April 28 – My Recent Favorite Books – Review
April 29 – Deal Sharing Aunt – Interview
April 30 – A Chick Who Reads – Review
May 1 – Brooke Blogs – Guest Post
May 2 – Little Whimsy Books – Guest Post