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Delilah S. Dawson
We have a question: What was it like writing your first book? Was it overwhelming? Answer: Nah, it just felt out. LIKE BABIES DO. Let's talk about it.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
I wouldn't be a writer at all if my brain hadn't broken. See, when I was 31, my second child stopped sleeping, and so did I. 3.5 hours a night, if I was lucky. And I straight-up started hallucinating. I heard mice talking in the walls. But... there were no mice.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
So I went and asked my husband about these mice, and since he's a psychologist, he handled it in the best possible way, which was not locking me up a la The Yellow Wallpaper. He put me on a sleep schedule and suggested I commit to a hobby just for me, a creative outlet: Writing.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
And here's the magical thing: Because my brain wasn't working quite right, all the parts of me that would've said: * I don't know how to write a book * I can't * I'm not good enough * It's too hard *What if I fail Those parts weren't working. So I just started doing it!
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
But my process then still works for me today. I didn't start writing until I knew the beginning, the instigating factor, the climax, and the ending. I wrote from front to back, straight through, without stopping or self-judging or editing. And I waited a few days before editing.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
I remember the feverish, manic feeling of writing that first book-- like I was being chased. Zooming through it. I could only write when the kids were asleep or my husband was watching them, so writing became my oasis, my escape. It didn't feel like work or drudgery at all.
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SteveC Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
So... is your husband single?
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
What's so fascinating to me now is that I had no idea what I was doing, no blueprint, but I accidentally found my writing process. Whenever I got to a roadblock, I just typed in [scene here] and skipped to the next scene that felt solid. First draft took maybe 3 months?
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William Ray Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
That 'without stopping of self-judging or editing' bit is hard. That's what slows me down more than anything; all the line-by-line second-guessing. When I can toss that out and just ride the flow, it's amazing, but it's hard to just do it on-demand.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @teeb3000
We celebrate the 21st anniversary of our first date this week and our 16th anniversary in May. :)
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @VerinEmpire
Bourbon helps.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
One of the most important tools I discovered during this time was On Writing by Stephen King. I read it just before I began writing my first draft, and it was a game changer. Before that, I always thought great writers wrote flawlessly from the first word. Boy howdy, they do not!
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
Truth: My first book? Was a hot mess. I made pretty much every first chapter mistake you can make, and it was definitely one of those books that got much better in chapter three. Don't believe me that it sucked? Here's the 1st sentence of the 1st draft:
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @ChuckWendig
But I edited that crap out of my first book. 13 drafts! And then, because my brain was still a bit wonky, I decided to query it. I outline that entire process in this popular post on 's blog:
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
So here's what I consider the most important aspect of my first query attempt: I decided it was making me feel crazy, so I started writing my next book. This meant that I wasn't placing all my hope on the book being queried; I was focused on the next bit of hope. So important!
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Douglas Hulick Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
Dammit Delilah, this thread made me realize something important about where I am right now. And it's not even noon yet. STOP THAT!
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
My first book did not get an agent. I received 57 rejections-- I think? Before two very kind agents told me I had talent but that the book was fatally flawed. That basically gave me permission to trunk it and focus entirely on book #2. Which was about talking mice. :)
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DougHulick
I am literally the worst.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
Between books 1 and 2, I learned how to start at the latest possible moment. My 1st book's 1st chapter was: forced snark, gross bathroom talk, describing herself in the mirror, dumping boring backstory, and 'I'm the kind of girl who'. My 2nd book's 1st chapter was ACTION.
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Delilah S. Dawson Mar 13
Replying to @DelilahSDawson
My 1st book also taught me that when I got totally blocked, it was usually bc I'd made the wrong choice in the previous scene. I'd ramrodded the protagonist or forced her into making a choice that suited the story but not her character. I learned to backtrack to find the path.
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