Monday, October 22, 2012

Jennifer Ashley: Creativity and Writer's Panic

I've been thinking a lot about creativity lately, especially as it relates to book writing. I'm a fairly prolific writer, but there are days (not a few), when I sit down in front of the computer, stare at the blank screen, and say "I got nothin'."

It's happened after I've given my publisher a proposal for a book, the contract is signed. I sit down to start the book and say, "What was I thinking?"

How do I get out of this and make it to a publishable book? It ain't easy. Here are some of my methods:

1. I throw away my notes. If the original concept is all wrong, I'm not afraid to chuck it out and start over. (I keep to what I agreed to in the contract--e.g., a hot paranormal romance--but the details might completely change.)

2. I let the characters inspire me. I explore every facet of the characters, set them on their feet, and give them a push. I watch what they do and write it down.

3. I let excellent books, movies, and music inspire me. I might find a single sentence or a piece of throwaway dialog, or something in the setting that makes me grab onto it and say "What if, instead... we did this...?"

4. I rewrite and revise extensively. This is the "bloody hard work" part. My story grows and changes as it takes life (especially if I started with nothing). I go back through it and make it consistent and coherent, and take out all the junk that doesn't need to be there, especially at the beginning.

These methods work for me, if they're not the most comfortable and low-stress way to write books. But I've started books with "I got nothin' " that ended up with them selling well and winning multiple awards.

That's my solution to writer's panic. What do you think of it, and writers, what do you do?

I’ll be giving away a copy of my latest book, Mate Claimed, which happily wasn’t written in as much of a panic. It’s a paranormal romance that made two of the New York Times bestseller’s lists and the USA Today top 50!

Leave a comment either on my topic, or simply say hi, to win!

Jennifer Ashley

***Jennifer's winner is Juanita Decuir!  Please email with your mailing info!***


Lory Lee said...

I agree with your methods, it's easier and less stressful for someone to just let everything loose and do the things that you're very comfortable at, getting yourself in an anxious mode won't help your cause. Music and movies or even a simple painting can really inspire writers, that's why they (you) have a very rich imagination.

Stefanie said...

I'm not a writer and now I know why.
Writing is such hard work (harder than many people think it is) and it takes questioning yourself and what you've already written to make a good book. I can imagine it creates a lot of stress.
Your methods to cope with that stress sound like a very good solution.

Nana Alcelinia said...

Haii Jennifer, wow your method is not easy to do it, but I admire your hard work.. Keep writing and keep fighting! Hë‘hë‘hë‘hë‘ hë‘hë
Thanks you for the giveaway

Jamie Salisbury said...

Learned a lot with your methods here. I've chuck out some ideas I shouldn't have - if I'd just stuck with it (and tossed the notes). Thanks!

Mary said...

Thank you for sharing that. It's nice to see how my favorite writers think.
I'm a huge fan, have been ever since that first book in this series. Can't wait to read this book.

Seraph said...

When stressed out:
Step 1: Back away from the story
Step 2: Put a notepad and pencil near you, don't focus on it though just relax and focus on the coffee/herbal tea.If you get an idea while relaxing just jot it down
Step 3:: Get you a good cup of coffee or herbal tea
Step 4: Breathe and relax

DL Thomas said...

I don't have the talent or imagination for writing (I wish I could write reviews better), but I do have a talent for reading. ;-)

Just from reading what other authors and you have said it seems so hard, but all of you are very good at it. Hard work and perseverance does pay off.

I love this series and I hope there will be more books to it.


Eli Yanti said...

great methods, Jennifer :)

Betty Hamilton said...

WOW!! You have all the hard work and we have all the enjoyment!! Thank you!!

juanita decuir said...

good morning, so happy to enter this giveaway, blessings to you my friend!

mk said...

Wow, that's a lot of work! Being a writer is yet another thing on the long list of jobs I'm not suited for, but I thank god that you are, because I LOVE your books!!

Lil said...

I think that your method sounds perfectly reasonable. I am a reader but when I used to have to write essays and was stuck, I tended to need to just start writing whatever came to mind and suddenly I would find a direction.

little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

flchen1 said...

Whoa, not a writer, but that sounds like good advice, Jennifer! Thanks for giving us a peek at how you work! And it truly IS work--thanks for doing that so we have the pleasure of enjoying your writing!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Jennifer K. said...

Great advice. And I loved Mate Claimed. I won an ARC of it before it came out and may I just say, I love me some shifters!

Stay_Cee said...

I love your books :)

stacey (dot) marin (at) laverne (dot) edu

Ashley Applebee said...

Hi Jennifer! Great post! I love your Shifters Unbound series!
Thanks for the great giveaway!
Ashley A

Pat Cochran said...

Thanks for sharing your methods for handling
"writer's panic." I'm not a writer but these
ideas can be of use in other areas as well.

Pat C.

Maureen said...

I love that you are so willing to just toss the details, stick with the basic promise and soldier on.

lorimeehan said...

I have to say I think you know what your doing because I LOVE YOUR BOOKS. keep up the good work.
Lorimeehan 1 @

Jyl22075 said...

I'm not a writer, but I think I would have a hard time tossing out my original plan and starting from just the basics. You are far braver than I.

Jyl22075 at

erin said...

Thanks for the great post and congrats on the new release! I love your Storm Walker series and I can't believe I've missed this one! Gotta go get caught up! I'm not a writer and never will be :), so I give you mad props for even having the ability to sit down and create a story. I couldn't even imagine facing writer's block!


pamerd said...


I love this series and I am looking forward to reading this book.

Great post, I love to see how authors make a wonderful story.

Thanks for the chance

Barbara E. said...

Your methods sound like they work, so I'm all for it. I too find it's easier to just start over sometimes when a project doesn't seem to be going the way I want it to. Starting again sometimes works out in ways you never imagined.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Martha Lawson said...

Since I'm not a writer, I'll just say hello!! Thanks for the great stories.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Mary Preston said...

Writing a book sounds exhausting,. Reading on the other hand...


vadeluna07 said...

I think that as long as it works for you, keep it up. You must be doing something right since your books are so awesome. ;)


Carol L. said...

I'd say if it works for you, keep doing it.I'd also say that since I think your books are awesome it works. :)Great post.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

MsAwesome said...

Hi =D .... love your books and can't wait for more to come out xoxo

joannamoreno1 at Hotmail dot com