Dawn Montgomery

If I Were You…a mini rant

In Goals on September 12, 2013 at 12:34 am

“If I were you…”

Man, I can’t stand those words. For a lot of reasons. I’ve been hanging out in writing forums, chats and groups again and I realized why I left most of them in the first place…

“If I were you…” “You are never supposed to…” “This isn’t the way you do it…” “That will never work…” These are words you’ll hardly ever hear me say (if you ignore the common sense ones, like “Hey Teenage Son, if I were you I wouldn’t use that wet towel to lift the hot pan from the oven.” “It’s fine mom. OWWWWWW.” “And that, my son, is a free physics lesson in conduction. You’re welcome”).

I spent most of my adult life in the military. There were rules and regulations laid out for almost everything you did (don’t believe me? I’ve read the regulation on how to fold and store your underclothes). My job allowed a bit more flexibility because the equipment I worked on was commercially proprietary, but they came with tons of manuals on their own. So as someone who toed the line in some pretty desperate situations, let me tell you this…

No lives are lost in the making of a book (unless we’re in a suspense thriller where the serial killer hacked into the author’s computer to perform copycat murders of his current work in progress…oh right, the rant). There is no RIGHT WAY to write. Your process is your own. If you manage to yank 500 words from the muck and force them into your story, you’ve moved forward. And while the negative train of self righteous indignation chugs its way around, please recognize a simple truth. You’re working. They’re squawking. Enough said.

Do you write longhand? Awesome.

Use a word processor? Cool.

PC, Mac, or Linux? I feel a well rounded household should have all three, but that’s just me.

Voice recognition software? Train the dragon. Always.

Do you write by tablet? Neat!

Crayon? Effective. Just look at my walls. LOL.

Write or Die (an online program designed to help keep you motivated)? Just don’t do kamikaze unless you’re…well…insane.

Some other thing I may have missed? Insert favorite way to write here.

If you answered YES to any of the above, you win. You are a writer. And you do it your way. Never lose sight of what writing blogs (like this one), forums, writing organizations, or writing events are supposed to bring to the table…open dialogue, creative expression, and encouragement.

I write to tell you guys what works for me and give you tools I’ve found valuable.

Writing is like breathing.

The inhalation is your creative process. The act of oxygen exchange in  your lungs is the translation of your process to paper. Editing is the exhalation of CO2. A book cannot live without this breath, but how you breathe is up to you. Do you take one long breath? Or many? Do you write it all and edit at the end? Or write in bits, edit, and then write some more?

Learn your craft. Know your characters. Write your story. There are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes I wish there were.

So while I get peeved when someone gets on a high horse about how wrong someone’s process is, I have a cautionary bit of advice as well before you take off streaking down the literary halls with a license to DO WHAT YOU WILL.

In the words of my first supervisor: You can do anything in the world you want. Anything. Just make sure you’re prepared for the consequences.

If you refuse to edit…don’t be upset when you receive critical reviews on your poor editing.

If you ignore submission guidelines…don’t be upset when your manuscript is passed over and returned without a single blip why.

Use common sense. Because our minds are ever evolving (the experiences you have today add to the ones from yesterday, and so on), our process can change. Get to know how you work, and take a good hard look. Figure out where you come up short and work to overcome that issue. Don’t snark back at the negativity train. It invites them to circle back and attack again. Just go about your business and keep writing. Because that’s what we do…

#ROW80 update


Goals this week:

  1. Dragons Never Lie: 2 chapters done by next Wednesday – DONE! Finished up chapter 2 right before this post. Ugh. Draining. Humor is so much harder for me to write than the dark and dangerous stuff. 
  2. Feral Hunger Edits and new content: I’m doing this one by page count. My goal is to get through chapter two by next Wednesday. With the kids back in school, it’s been much easier to concentrate. – Not finished. Still working on Chapter Two.
  3. Voodoo Carnival: Keeping the same goal and continue at 500 words a day (equates to a scene every couple of days or a chapter every four or so). It’s working for me, and anything working is going to stay that way. LOL. Until it’s not. 😉 – Steady as she goes. My soundtrack is helping. 

Weekend Goals: 

  1. Edits on Last Rites: Get halfway through the book this weekend.– I’m almost done with the first round of revisions. WOOHOO! 
  2. Edits on To Chase a Werewolf: Chapter one this weekend. – My CP has it in hand. 
  3. First Chapter’s Edits of Carter’s Legacy in preparation for Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. – Didn’t make this one.
  4. Edits for a Critique Partner: I’m helping Cynnara with Teaching the Male. The coverart for this beauty is fantastic! I can’t wait until she can show you guys! – Edits are almost done for her 😀 

Workshops I’m attending this month: 

  • Writing the New American Cowboy- Bikers 101: The Biker one has already started and I’m LOVING IT! – Caught up on all my lessons. Learning a lot and still LOVING it! 
  • Steampunk American Style: – I’m having SO MUCH FUN with this one!  Money WELL spent! 

Cool things that happened since last Wednesday:

  • Finalized my coverart for Shift the Night (my second self-pub book). Check out the post here.
  • Red Velvet Christmas: Hidden Confection was accepted by my publisher for a holiday release. Check out the post here.
  • My post at Romance Lives Forever ran headline in three online newsletters. The retweets were phenomenal. *Edited: I was sent two more online papers where my post headlined. Wow*
  • I’m going to be a 4th Quarter Sponsor for #ROW80! I hope to do right by you guys and give back to the community that keeps me going. What kinds of articles do you guys want during the next quarter? Anything you want expanded on? Do motivational blog posts help? Love some feedback.

New Goals for this week: I’m sticking with mostly new content this week (the last week of this round!). 

  1. Dragons Never Lie through Chapter Five
  2. Feral Hunger through Chapter Four
  3. Finish edits on Hidden Confection tomorrow. 

I’m part of a fantastic group called A Round of Words in 80 Days, and if you’d like to see how everyone else is doing, check out the list HERE.

Would you like to be a part of our writing challenge? Check out the rules HERE.

Keep Writing!

  1. Oh I do so envy you your clarity. Brain fog has me all smudgy. But I do know you’re right about there being no right way, or wrong way. Creativity has it’s own fingerprint and each of us stamp our uniqueness on that. Glad you’re making such great progress Dawn. And I loved the new cover! 🙂


    • Shah, I get brain fog sometime around March or so and struggle all the way through the summer. And right after a big project or book release.

      I love hearing and reading other people’s creative processes and habits.

      Thanks on the cover love. I was super thrilled with it.

      Hope you come out of the blahs soon. *hugs*


  2. I have so much love for this post. I do worry a bit when I see Dos and Don’ts of writing on various blogs and know that I’m not following them. But I work hard on making my writing as good as it can be, and people seem to like it, so I figure that’s the main thing.

    • Thanks Emily! I get so frustrated when I see people slam another’s way of writing. Don’t let the Dos and Don’ts drag you down. These were the “hard and fast rules” I was given at the beginning of my writing career. Just keep writing and listen to feedback from your readers. Find people you trust to be honest. And read as much as possible. Refresh your grammar often. LOL. Anything else is gravy. 😀

  3. Lovely rant. I don’t get so bothered by negative “shoulds” about writing as I do about negative “shoulds” about marketing. My writing comes from some place that just feels right. I’m with you. As long as words get down on the page, even at an infintesimal 200 a day, we writers are just doing fine. What I’d drawn to in your post is how many projects you’re working on. Wow. Can’t wait to see the launch of SHIFT THE NIGHT. Congrats. And write on!

    • Luckily most of the projects are novella length or smaller. All the edits take place over the weekend so I don’t get bogged down. There were times in my writing career where I would have given anything for 200 words a day.

      Most of the books from now until the end of the year are ones I started during my last remote tour in the service. Most of them, luckily, were almost done by the time I left the country to return to my family. When I got home there was much to do, a huge move, lots of new things happening, and I set them aside until recently. 🙂

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