Wicked Crazy Writing Life

Creston Mapes is the author of NobodyDark StarFull Tilt, and the brand new thriller, Fear Has a Name. A journalist, copywriter, and editor, he works from his home-office in Atlanta for some of the nation’s top media companies, Christian ministries, and nationally-recognized corporations. His early years as a reporter inspire many of his novels.

By Creston Mapes
I’ve been writing for a living for 30 years and doing it as
a freelancer for 22. Many people look at me suspiciously, probably wondering: a)
If I received a huge inheritance, or b) Won the lottery. Neither is true.
Writing is a discipline and I work hard at it. What I’d like
to share with you as you write and try to make a living (or at least earn some
spending money) as a writer are some quick points and fun insights that I’ve
picked up over the years. I’m hoping one or two of these things might help you increase
your productivity, feel better physically and mentally, and keep your creative
juices flowing better than ever.
As Dolly Parton would
say,
“What a way to make a
livin!’”
First of all, for some background, I write marketing copy
for a living. Large corporations, colleges, ministries and magazines call on me
to help tell their stories—on websites and videos, in ads and corporate collateral
materials, and in newsletters and magazine articles.
Secondly, I write fiction “on the side.” This actually takes
up much more of my time than the marketing copywriting. This is my true love,
which I hope to do full-time some day soon (if you will buy my novels, tell
your friends how much you love them and insist they go buy them, too).
Right now my writing journey consists of what “feel like”
two full-time jobs. So, I treat them as such.
From 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., I write fiction.
From 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., I write marketing copy.
Okay, here is the schedule I’ve fine-tuned over the years.
It may not be set in stone, but it is close. That’s because, if you’re going to
write, you’ve got to be productive. This basic agenda has helped keep me energized,
creative, fun, healthy, happy (for the most part), sociable, at my proper
weight, awake, and earning a living (or, as my Dad used to say, ‘Keeping the
wolves away from the door”).
5:30 a.m. – 2 –
2.5 mile walk/run
6:15 a.m. – Read
Bible, pray
6:45 a.m.
Breakfast (egg and fruit)
7:10 a.m. – Get
family off to school and work.
7:15 a.m.
Shower, shave, dress.
7:50 a.m.
Coffee on, into office, check email, Facebook, Twitter, news, book sales.
8:30 a.m. – Write
fiction.
12 p.m.
Knock-off for healthy lunch and quick snooze (see below).
1 p.m. – More
writing. Usually afternoons are spent on freelance copywriting projects, which
don’t require quite as much creative power as the fiction does, which is why I
save it for afternoons.
5:30 p.m. – Knock
off and forget about all of it. Enjoy family, friends and life.
Secrets from the
Creative Dungeon
Several things have made a big difference in keeping my
energy levels up and my mind as lucid and creative as possible.

Stand Up to Write
I had a friend build me a “stand up desk.” It actually sits on my current desk
and holds my mouse, keyboard, notes and coffee cup. I simply tilt my Mac screen
up so I can write while standing. It’s easy to remove, so I can switch back and
forth, sitting and standing, throughout the day. This has been a huge help in
giving me some variety, improving my circulation, keeping me alert, encouraging
me to stretch and walk around, and to burn more calories.

Drink Water
Once I’m finished with my all-important coffee intake for the morning, I start
drinking water for the rest of the day. It helps keep my body relaxed and
fluid, and keeps me from getting a stiff neck and headaches. When I feel a
headache coming or my neck and shoulders getting sore, I know immediately it’s
because I haven’t been drinking enough H20.
Eat a Healthy Lunch
– Mine usually consists of soup or salad with mixed greens, cabbage, carrots,
celery, soy nuts, raisins, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If I
eat much more or heavier foods for lunch, I get too tired in the afternoon.
Take a Snooze!
–  Often I take a quick 10-30 minute nap
on the hammock in the sun right after lunch. Then I splash water on my face and
get psyched up to put in a full afternoon of writing.
Take Breaks, Rock the
House
– Stand up and take frequent breaks. Walk around, lift hand weights,
stretch, play of your favorite music: loud. This always sparks some good
creative energy for me.
Leave Some Crumbs for
Tomorrow
– Here’s a fiction writing secret. When I’m finishing up my
fiction for the day, in the flow of thought I’m in, I jot down 3 to 7 things
that might happen in the manuscript the next day. That way, when I come fresh
to the screen the next morning, I immediately pick up where I left off and get right
into the flow.
Change the Scenery
Pick two days of the week, the same days each week, to go someplace else to
work other than home. For me it’s Starbucks. For you it might be Panera, the
library, McDonalds or Barnes & Noble. The point is, pick those two days and
stick to them. For me, this breaks up the monotony and solitude of working at home
alone, and forces me to at least get a little bit social.
I think the most important thing for me is what takes place
at 6:15 each morning (see above). For,
if I am not going to the well each day and drinking deeply of His living water,
then I am parched and hungry and find myself trying to live out the day in my
own strength. I don’t know about you, but I would rather leave all my burdens
and pleas and concerns with Him each morning, and simply let Him carry me all
day, every day.
I hope to meet up with you on the road at a signing
somewhere, or on Twitter or Facebook, where I have a lot of fun connecting with
readers, writers and all kinds of lovely people.
• CrestonMapes.com

Twitter.com/CrestonMapes
• Facebook.com/creston.mapes



“Captivating from breathless start to throat-clenching finish, Fear has a Name possesses everything a great thriller should, and more. A must read for fans of Terri Blackstock and Brandilyn Collins.”
— Tamera Alexander, USA Today Bestselling author
of To Whisper Her Name and A Lasting Impression
   
In Fear Has a Name, Creston Mapes proves once again that he is a master of building deep characters and sending them on a twisting, breakneck journey of terror and triumph. His vivid and concise storytelling pulls you in, and by the time you realize you can’t breathe from all the suspense, it’s too late: you’re riding this baby to the end. A truly captivating work of ratcheting thrills and surprising grace. You will not be able to put it down—or get it out of your head once you finally do.
— Robert Liparulo, author of The 13th Tribe,
The Judgment Stone, and Comes a Horseman
   
I love novels where I look for any spare moment to keep reading. Fear Has A Name is one of them. Maybe because the tension never lets up. Maybe because Mapes left out all the boring parts. Maybe because of a plot that kept me on edge from the first words till the very end. Well done.
—  James L. Rubart, bestselling author of Rooms,
Book Of Days, The Chair, and Soul’s Gate