The Scene Definitely Doesn’t Need Mousy Toys, No Matter What The Cat Thinks: My Writing Process – A Guest Post by Author C. J. Hill

Janette with catAs an author, I get a lot of emails asking for writing advice. After writing over 20 books, you’d think I’d have a writing process that worked like a well-oiled machine and all I would have to do to produce the next book was sit down and let my fingers glide across the keyboard while words flowed effortlessly on the screen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way.  This is how my normal writing day goes:


1)      I sit down at the family computer and give myself half an hour to check and answer email.

2)      Two hours later, I pull myself away from that computer, resolving to finish answering the email later.

3)      I go to my room and plop down in front of my laptop (no internet to distract me) and open my latest work in progress.

4)      I start in on my work in progress.almond joy

5)      After an hour or so, I get stuck.

6)      I go look to see what chocolate we have laying around the house.

7)      I eat Almond Joys while wondering where my muse is.

8)      The cat takes up residence on my keyboard. I get her off and erase whatever she’s written. The scene I was working on definitely doesn’t need mousy toys, no matter what the cat thinks.

9)      I ponder the possibility that my muse is at the mall shopping. Muses are fickle creatures that way, and frequently abandon you. It’s hard to compete with shoe sales and Cinnabon.

10)   While rummaging around the kitchen again, I wonder if it’s too late to switch careers and raise ponies instead. Ponies are so cute and they never send you revision letters.

11)   Finally I get back to work and push through writing problems.

12)   Just about the time I’m in the groove and everything is going well, the alarm goes off (and yes, I have to set it every day) to remind me that it’s time to pick up the kids from school.

13)   Repeat steps 1-12 the next day.


Of course, I don’t recommend this same process for all writers. For example, sometimes I prefer Snickers bars instead of Almond Joys, and sometimes my cat is right and the scene actually needs a few mousy toys. What’s important is that you have a process that works for you.

Broom,_sponge_and_towelI never let writers block stop me for long. Whenever I feel blocked as a writer, I remind myself of the many chores that need to be done around the house—walls that are begging to be painted, bathrooms that are overdue for scrubbing, my old nemesis the refrigerator which keeps turning perfectly good food into unidentifiable, moldy, foul-smelling lumps.

And then I always feel like sitting in front of the computer and writing again. This trick works every time.

If you need other motivation to become a writer, remember that our society expects artists to be different. Artists live beyond the rules that fetter everyone else. This is an extremely good thing if you’re a writer, because it means you can do things like stay in your pajamas all day and people don’t think you’re lazy or clinically depressed. Also, if you forget to pick up your children from school so many times that you have to set an alarm to remind you that you are in fact a mother, people just nod knowingly and say, “Well, she is a writer. You know how artists are.”

CJHill1Not that I’m saying I do these things. I write for the joy of creation. There’s something magical that happens when I write a scene and the characters seem to come alive and say and do things that surprise me. It’s an incredible experience to be able to share stories with millions of people. It’s like millions of people have peered into my brain—in a noncreepy way.

So if you love to write, find a process that works for you, and do it. You won’t regret it. (And you’ll be leaving something for your children to enjoy long after they forgive you for forgetting them at school again.)


CJ Hill Author photo

Janette Rallison/CJ Hill is the award winning author of 20 novels and has sold over a million books.  Her novels have been on many reading and state lists including IRA Young Adults’ Choices List and state reading lists. Most of her books are action or romantic comedies because hey, there is enough angst in real life, but there’s a drastic shortage of action, humor, and romance.  She lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five kids, and enough cats to classify her as eccentric.


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