One of the joys of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is connecting with some great bloggers you wouldn’t have the chance to otherwise. I’m happy to have met the lovely, Stephanie Faris, and to have her consent to writing a post for me. Thank you, Stephanie!

Stephanie Faris is the author of 30 Days of No Gossip, now available from Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin M!x, and 25 Roses, to be released in 2015. Her work is regularly featured on a wide variety of blogs and websites, both under her own name and as a ghostwriter. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Neil.

Connect with her on her blog and on Twitter.

stephanie farris


It Starts With An Idea

When you write novels for a living, you’re prone to odd behavior. You may stop, for instance, in the middle of a shower to rush to your laptop to capture a thought. You may be spotted talking to yourself while behind the wheel. You will very likely drift off in thought in the middle of a conversation.

It’s all about the idea.

I personally get some of my best ideas while on the treadmill. A long, scenic walk or an hour on the track at the gym can bring the same inspiration. Someone once explained that walking gets your heart beating, which increases the flow of oxygen to your brain. Oxygen equals clearer thinking. That sounds reasonable.

The problem is, when an idea hits, if you don’t capture it right away, sometimes you lose it. I’ve lost many great ideas over the years because I failed to write them down. Of course, there’s always that brilliant idea you get in the middle of the night that seems brilliant.

Tip: If you forget one of those ideas, don’t worry. It likely wasn’t nearly as brilliant as it seemed in your half-asleep state.

writers' block

Taking the idea to novel form is the big challenge. Recently, I read a guest blog from a writer who said for every ten ideas, only one comes to fruition. Sometimes I get an idea, start writing immediately, and figure out 20 or 30 pages in that the idea won’t work. I probably could save a little time outlining and planning, but my creativity doesn’t quite work that way.

I guess you could say I’m a pantser. That’s someone who writes “by the seat of her pants.” If I feel like I have to write an outline, I do it in the form of a synopsis after I’ve written a few chapters. That helps get me over that middle-of-the-book hump. I think they call that the murky middle? Murky middles are an ongoing challenge for pantsers.

Another downfall to being a pantser? Revisions are essential. Where outliners spend a great deal of time refining the story on the front end, pantsers can often paint ourselves into corners, requiring massive rewrites once the book is complete. You’re also frequently required to double back, sometimes deleting dozens of pages of hard work after realizing you’ve gone too far down the wrong path.

Still, it all starts with an idea. Where we get those ideas, along with what we do once we get them, is colored by our background. We also color our ideas based on what we’re writing. I might get a great idea for a love story, but since I write children’s fiction, that idea is fairly useless unless I want to try something new.

Some of the best ideas come while reading fiction. It could be one comment a character makes in a book you’re reading. It could even be a scene in a suspense novel that inspires a great child character. You never know when inspiration will strike. What you do know is that when it does, you should probably have a pen and paper handy.

~ Stephanie Faris, Author
30 Days of No Gossip
Photo credit