Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does Magic Happen?

I've heard some authors say, "My last book magically wrote itself." Not only have I heard that, but I've said it, so I understand the feelings behind the logic.

Does magic happen for some books or is there something else going on? Let's think about this a little more.

I just finished the rough draft of a new novel I've been working on since last summer. This novel took a long time to write, and there were days I felt challenged to complete a couple of pages. For my other novels, I wrote a chapter a day. What was the deal with this book?

The deal was . . . I'd changed. No longer do I sit down and write like I did years ago without thinking through many aspects of my novel and how I want to shape my story. I know what the beginning, middle, and ending of a book needs. But I also want to do more than that. I want to make the book the best novel I can write. I want to top my last story. I want to challenge myself. I want to deliver to my fans a great read that will surprise them and make them want to read all of my books. If I accomplish that it will be because of hard work. 

I've read some blogs where writers say, "If writing becomes work, I don't want to do it. It has to be fun." Okay, so here's a question. Can't you have fun and work at the same time? For most of us to succeed in this business it will take years of hard work, years of rejections, years of sitting down at the computer and pouring out our souls. Is that fun? Some days it is fun, but some days it hurts because we're dealing with emotions that are raw yet need to be tapped for a believable scene. Maybe "fun" isn't the word we need to describe writing. Maybe the word is "rewarding." Is writing rewarding? Yes. Maybe not so much at the beginning of a career, but if you hang on and learn with each book, writing can be very rewarding, especially when a fan tells you with tears in their eyes how much they loved your novel. 

So maybe saying "the story just came to me and magically wrote itself" can be misleading to those who are starting to write. Believe me, most published authors have worked very hard to find success. And they continue to work because they want their next story to be better than the last.

Does magic happen for some books? Maybe, but it's also a lot of hard work.

What do you think? Is writing fun? Hard work? Magical? Rewarding?  You tell me.


  1. Mine magically wrote itself *cough* not really. The wand was heavy and the hat made things dark across my eyes!

    I envy those who say it is easy to write a book. Having said that, I have enjoyed the challenge to my brain.

  2. I’m on the starting side of a writing career and I can tell you – it is a lot of hard work. There are days I struggle to find the right emotion/setting for a scene. I spend time pondering my characters and their interactions and reactions to the events I force them into.
    The thing that is magic for me, is when I fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. When I add a character trait to the bad guy that makes him human and his motives rational, that is when the magic happens.
    Since I’m writing historical fiction, another magical moment is working my fictitious story into the facts. When it all comes together to make sense and collaborate with archeological or historical evidence I do a little happy dance.
    It's nice to see all the hard work pay off for you. It makes me think one day it will happen for me too.

  3. Glynis,
    It is a challenge to write a book. Maybe our keyboards are our magic wands. :)

  4. Christina,
    I love how you put that. The magic happens when the plans we have for our books take shape and things click. You've made some wonderful points. Maybe magic does happen--though it's fueled with hard work and your creative mind. ;)

  5. This is a very timely post for me! I'm just coming to grips with the realities of deadlines, as a contracted and published author. There are days when I don't like it. :-) But that's the way it is, and we have to understand that it's a job, not a hobby. Good thoughts.

  6. Rosslyn,
    I'm working on a deadline myself, so I'm feeling the same pressure. But it's great. I'd much rather work on a deadline for one of my books than other things (i.e. taxes). :)

  7. Hi, Kathi,

    I'm not a novelist, but I write a weekly column. There are weeks when the column literally (well, almost) writes itself. Then other weeks, I labor, working hard to get it out and pull it together on time. So I can identify with both experiences.

    Congratulations on your new book!

    With every wish for your success,


  8. Rhonda,
    I understand what you go through. Some days writing is easier than others. But most days I wish I owned a magic wand. :)



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