Over the past few months I’ve received several e-mails about what the erotica game is like for writers. Everyone has great story ideas — but how do you get the work out there? And the more important question: then what? I thought I’d spend a blog post or two describing my overall philosophy. Maybe there will be something helpful in my haphazard list o’ tips. Most of it is about writing in general because the process of writing erotica, to me, is pretty similar to how I approach fiction and nonfiction elsewhere.
Broke this into two parts because I rambled. “Part 2 – Marketing” coming this weekend. – ES
Part 1 – Writing, Generally
Separate your creative work from sales & marketing. Sure, you want your fiction to sell, but I find it difficult to focus on a story while the marketing manager in my head is telling me to add certain elements, tweak characters, spice things up or down, etc. You might find that annoying, too. So focus on writing the best story you possibly can and worry about the pretty packaging later.
I’ll talk a bit about some decisions you make early in the process regarding choosing kinks, fetishes, subgenres, etc. in a later post. In the meantime, Selena Kitt has posted about this and pretty much knocks that answer out of the park.
Onward we go…
Read, Observe, Write. Want to write better stories? Do those three things. Read a ton, write a ton, and observe the world around you. It sounds obvious, but it’s worth repeating.
Read, and read with a purpose. Study how stories work. Read them two or three times. Read in and out of your chosen genre. Treat your books (not library books!) like the tools that they are: mark them up and fold the pages to your heart’s content. For a working writer, books are tools. They are meant to be used. Studied. Worn through. If you’re more of an e-reader type, well, do whatever you do on e-readers to mark up pages! Highlight! Bookmark! The point is, find specific pieces and parts of stories and focus on how they achieve effects.
Observe people and settings and weather patterns and stray animals and stars and vandalized highway signs and your neighbors’ recycling bins — keep your eyes open and note how people behave and interact within their own spaces. Creative and insightful details, large and small, can make stories. This is your job. Every day. Every waking minute. Take notes.
Then, finally, write. When you finish, write more. That’s important! Always move forward. You’ll see your work improve as you go. Just keep putting down the words. Think about what you’ve read in relation to what you’re producing. Be honest. Use the critical lens you apply to other books, and focus in on your own drafts. Study words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Evaluate every decision you make as a writer. Every word is a choice and every single piece of your story is important.
Okay. That’s my speech. It’s really, really simple. I’ve participated and taught in quite a few creative writing workshops. Those three paragraphs up there? That’s the core message I try to impart on writers who ask me for advice. While I find workshops a wonderful resource, the fact is that writing is a self-driven process. I’m happiest when I’m away from the peer reviewers and instructors and guest speakers prattling on about what time of day they write, or how they like their coffee, or how writing is like exercise and blah blah blah.
Here’s how I see it: Writing is a lonely pursuit. Only you will make it happen. That can be scary, or thrilling. Your tools are books, your imagination, your powers of observation, and whatever writing implement you choose. That’s it. Aside from “Read, Observe, Write” there’s no magic potion that will make this easy.
That’s my general approach to writing, in a nutshell. I’ll tackle some tips on marketing decisions in my next post. Thanks for reading, and good luck with all those writing projects!