Discipline and guilt

When asked about her writing process, Nora Roberts claims over and over again that it always comes down to the story. In order to write well, to be published, the author first needs to sit down and write out the story. “Nora Roberts once said that she can fix a bad page, but she can’t fix a blank one,” says fellow romance writer, Julia Quinn, when asked how to get published. Though authors vary in the particulars of their rituals to clear their minds and move forward, the answer is often simple. The important thing is to remember why you are writing the story to begin with: to tell a story.

Roberts writes: “I think I do have some advantages, not in story telling, but that I was educated by the nuns. That means I was [raised] with discipline and guilt- they’re very wonderful writer’s tools” (Struckel Brogan). This discipline is what keeps Roberts motivated to write, often up to eight hours a day. Many authors have discussed the perils of pursuing publication for anything other than the love of writing. If you’re in it for the fame, the money, for anything but the story, the story is what will suffer most. By cutting out concerns on how to market the book, about whether readers will enjoy it or not, and all the other things many first-time writers struggle with, allows writers to clear their minds and focus on the story itself. “My only job is to tell the story,” Roberts says. “I think that if writers focused on that, they’d be better off and probably more successful” (Struckel Brogan).

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