Guest Post by Natalie Hartford: Writers….write!

For today’s Melodic Monday post, I’m ecstatic to welcome Natalie Hartford as my blog’s very first guest blogger.  She’s a writer just starting out on the adventure of her first novel. 

Natalie posts on her blog four days a week with hilarity such as my metrosexual hubby made me realize the power of clothes that fit (no matter the size), Twisted Tuesdays (with stuff like sunglasses that rock my beer! or the new trailer hitch stripper pole).  I must admit I looked into that one for my dancing arsenal.  And her Urban Word Wednesdays (where she teaches us words like masturcising and vajazzle) crack me up!  Be sure to check her out at:  She’d love to have you visit.

Take it away, Natalie!

I am pumped to be here Barbara!  Thank you for hosting me and allowing me to give your readers a little taste of my Nat-pizzazz.

In July 2010, I launched my blog as a means of kicking my creative writing into gear. Throughout my first year online, I connected with fantastic people (such as Barbara, my first blogging buddy), read like a maniac, and continued to blog along. Although my blog continued to grow one reader at a time (super happy about that) my fiction writing never seemed to happen.

I put it off. I stalled. I was all talk and no action. In October 2011, I joined ROW80, the writing challenge that knows you have a life, in the hopes that accountability would give me the nudge I obviously needed to start writing. The challenge put me in touch with even more amazing writers, bloggers, and a support system unlike anything I’ve experience. But still, my writing waned. Why couldn’t I sit down and write? Why couldn’t I just PICK A STORY IDEA ALREADY (from over the dozen idea I had) and run with it?

Then Jenny Hansen sent me this note:

“OF COURSE you’re going to write a great book. But you’re stalling with all this prep. Just start writing all willy-nilly and see what comes out. Promise me that in your next round of ROW80. You’ll just start writing. Pretty please? I KNOW you have an awesome book inside of you. But we all have to write like 3,000 lines of crap before our book comes out.

No one has a masterpiece on the first run. The key is to start writing. Remember, done is better than good. You can make all done into very good much easier than you can make a little good into all done.

Ok. So what’s holding me back, Jenny? I asked. She had my answer.

…it is fear. But who’s stronger? You are!

Fear! GASP! I know. I didn’t want to admit it at first either.

I took some time and thought about it. What was I afraid of? The truth was, I was afraid of trying this writing thing that I had talked about doing forever and sucking at it. What if I bombed? What if I wasn’t good enough? What if my story idea was the pits? What if I didn’t have what it takes? What then?

A million what ifs were paralyzing me from putting pen to paper. I was waiting for the perfect idea with the perfect plot so I could sit down and in one hour have a perfect outline with hundreds of perfect scenes ready to be put together to create my perfect novel that I would THEN write perfectly (likely by tinkering away at it here and there). No risk. No fear.

I was going to be waiting a lifetime for all those balls to fall into place? Seriously!

Here’s the thing I’ve learned about writers. They write! I was planning, I was thinking, I was brainstorming – all good, valuable and important. But I wasn’t writing. And writers…they write!

So now I find myself butt in chair 3 to 5 times a week writing at minimum 1,750 words a week. I am still planning, thinking, and brainstorming to hone my story idea and plot outline (because I am sooo a plotter) but now I start every session with writing. Whether it’s character development, scene sketches, dialogue possibilities, world building snippets, or dotting out potential new and undiscovered super powers, I write first…and plan afterwards.

And nothing gets me in the writing mood more than music! When I read Debra Kristi’s post on how she uses music as a source of inspiration to create pieces in her mind, I knew she was onto something. She created an entire music and photo backdrop for her second book. It blew me away. I knew I had to put something together for my book writing; something to help me get INTO the setting…to feel the book…something uplifting, powerful, and inspiring. Listening to Top 40 was not helping me channel my characters.

Now this…this is more like it! Here’s the kick-off tune for Natalie’s Fiction Book 1 Playlist:

Chevaliers de Sangreal by Hans Zimmers. It was featured in The Da Vinci Code.

I can almost see and feel my female heroine facing her darkest hour right now….she’s afraid…she’s alone…she doesn’t know if she can do it!! It’s too much to ask. It’s too much for one mere person to take on. The task is too daunting. The force is too strong! But as the song builds, I can feel her mind shifting. From the depth of her soul I can feel her inner power building. She is starting to believe, as I have always known, that she…she is the true embodiment of her people. She is the culmination of centuries of history and power! She is THE ONE. As she rises…and the smoke clears…she draws her sword and, with a knowing grin, she invites evil to dance this dance…one last time!

Words on the page are what make for a novel. I am not sure how long it’ll take me to get there nor do I know where this journey will end up…but…I am happy to know that I’m at least now moving in the direction.

Thank you for having me Barbara, I hope everyone enjoys the post. You can always find me at:

Visit me at:
Talk to me at:
Follow me on twitter at: @NatalieHartford


Way cool for you to swing by and share your thoughts with us, Natalie. I am sure there are many of us who can relate to your experience. Chasing your dream, whether it is writing a book or something else, can be intimidating and scary. Finding those strategies and establishing a process that moves you closer to your goal is key. And you know I agree that music can be a powerful motivator and tool for inspiration. It is something near and dear to my muse and I have a constant playlist running either on my iPod or humming in my head.

Music has the ability to swell us with emotion. What songs get your writing mojo going? How do you use music to inspire and enrich your writing? What strategies help you put pen to paper?

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40 Responses to Guest Post by Natalie Hartford: Writers….write!

  1. Pingback: My quit list! – Natalie Hartford

  2. Thanks soooo much for hosting me Barbara. I had a blast writing the post and sharing my experience. Not to mention I could listen to that song a hundred times and never tire of it.
    Here’s to YOU and your constant and much appreciated support!!! You ROCK!! 🙂

    • So glad you joined in, Natalie! Squee! You know I love music on Mondays and what a great song. I’ll have to check out the movie’s entire soundtrack.
      I’ve watched you grow and rock out as a blogger and now am beyond excited to see the changes you are making on the fiction writing journey. Double squee! 🙂

  3. Great post, Natalie … fab idea, Barb! You both rock your followers with your AWE-some energy and posts that have us falling out of chairs laughing or leaping up to join Barb in a wild boogie. To quote our buddy Will Shakespeare “If music be the food of love, play on.” Since writing is your passion, let those tunes that rock your world inspire you. I LOVE this first choice, Nat!

  4. I use different music for different books. it seems to evolve as I plot and think about the book before I start writing. a tune or tunes will match the feel of the story. thanks for your post.

    • Love that Louise. I hadn’t ever even considered it but I know Barbara uses music to inspire her muse and then I read Debra’s post and was blown away. I realized I could channel different “vibes” I get from music to evoke a rich and more indepth storyline. Like you said, finding music that fits the story will only help further inspire us.

    • Yes! I just was commenting to Patrica on setting some theme songs for characters. Exactly like what you are saying, Louise, it will help me with the feel of the story. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  5. That fear is a scary thing, we all have moments, so glad you’re writing Natalie!

    I don’t have music on when I’m writing but songs will hit me at odd times and they’ll fit a character or a scene and jump start the next writing session.

    • Thanks for your comment, Raelyn. Yes, there are a few moments when I can’t have music on. Sometimes it is the words that distract me so I’ll move to instrumental. I love how you use songs to tap into characters and scenes. And for fear, I have songs that push me towards facing those too. 🙂

    • Thanks sooo much Raelyn!!!
      I agree with you and Barbara, sometimes music can be distracting. 🙂 I’ve been meaning to get a slew of instrumental to help drown out the “house” noises while I’m in my office trying to write. I thought instrumental might be perfect for that and not as distracting as say Top 40.

  6. You both rock, Natalie and Barbara. So happy to be your sista!!!

    I find an immense amount of inspiration in music and also in books written in my genre. Actually there are so many things around me that inspire my writing – nature, strangers, friends, movies, memories, art, photographs… and the list goes on. I think once you turn your inner writer on, you find that writing comes naturally and HAS to happen.

    • Has to happen is so right, Angela! So many times I find myself doing something else and a line or idea or story solution comes. I grab my phone and type it into notepad (or into Evernote on my tablet) so the thought isn’t lost. At work, I’ll jot ideas down in the margins of papers. Writers write! Hugs to you!

    • Power to the Sistas!! 🙂
      I couldn’t agree more. I need to learn to jot those inspirations down more often!

  7. Elena Aitken says:

    Excellent post, Natalie! The fear gets me ALL the time and it has for years. I used to let the fear stop me from writing. And then I’d get past that, and the fear would rear it’s ugly head when it came to submitting it to my critique group, etc…
    It’s still there. Every time I put a book on Amazon, the fear is there.
    I don’t think it will ever go away. BUT…I do know now that whenever I feel that way, it’s because I’m uncomfortable. AND…whenever I’m uncomfortable, I’m growing as a person. Sometimes, you have to let go, take the leap and crash through the fear. Great things happen when you do. And you, my friend, sound like you’re leaping! YAY you. I can’t wait to see what magical, wondrous fiction comes from your mind.
    Congratulations on facing the fear.

    • LOVE that – sometimes you have to let go, take the leap and crash through the fear! Soooo true!! It’s the only way to grow and push ourselves. I will say, it’s great to know that I am not alone. It comforts me and makes me feel normal. And maybe our fears don’t exactly let off but we don’t let it stop us from moving forward anyway. You are an inspiration Elena!!
      I just finished Jillian’s “That Boy” (soooo good…O.M.G) and just started Drawing Free last night…all I can say…is…WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • So so true, Elena! Fear has paralyzed me in the past from submitting material. The uncomfortable moments are the growth and it is so amazing how opportunities show up for us when we take those risks. And Natalie, you are not alone with fear. We as writers can learn to turn it into a driving motivator versus a handcuff.

  8. Great job, Natalie! I love this – Nat-pizazzzz. That’s so you and so awesome. I’m definitely going to check out that music, it sounds perfect for what I love to write to.

    As writers, we need to learn to harness our fear into something we can use, not let is use us. Good on you for getting to the heart of the matter and breaking through.

    • Yeppers, Tameri! I’m now having a flashback to Lydia Grant in Fame giving the dreams speech – “You’ve got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying in sweat.” Okay, yeah, random, but it makes me feel like it could be a fear speech – You want to write? You have fears? Well, writers write, so face those fears, baby. Okay – going back to the happy dance for Natalie’s progress. 🙂

  9. LOVE that – harness it into something we can use – not let it use us. Sooo true!!!

  10. It’s so much fun to see you and Barbara together! I’m so happy Jenny talked you into letting go of your fear Natalie. You’ve set wise and wonderful goals and I know you’ll get there. You have lots of people pulling for you. Lots of people will want to read YOUR book.

    I’ve been listening to a lot of Celtic tunes while I write, (this book takes place in Scotland past and present) Steve Winwood and Rob Thomas. I tune into Pandora and kind of get a full spectrum but I love the idea of a playlist for my book to put on my I-pod. Thanks for the great idea!

    • “It’s so much fun to see you and Barbara together!” That’s right, Kate! Imagine if Natalie brings along that hitch pole and I show up with my theme songs and dance playlist. Whoa! We’ll either have the makings of some great YouTube videos or get carried away by the authorities.

      I’m with you on Natalie’s book too. Once the great energy and focus of the amazing blogging work is turned full press on the fiction, watch out. 🙂

      • Can YOU imagine those YouTube videos. LOL!! What a hoot!!
        Thank you Barbara…sniff…you guys are making such a huge different in my world. I can only hope and pray I’m doing the same for each of you….

    • Woot woot. Barbara and I are a party in a box. LOL! 🙂 Yes, I am glad Jenny gave me the shove I needed to get my butt in gear. I can’t say enough how much everyone’s support and encouragement means to me. It’s just BLOWN my mind. You guys are all my heros!!!
      Love the idea of Celtic tunes. Eeeekeee…we’ll have to each do a post and share our playlists. 🙂

  11. Natalie, way to go breaking through the fear! The music is a great idea. I used to use it a lot for inspiration and setting the mood of various scenes. Not so much anymore as I find silence is more conducive for me now, but even now when I hear some of those songs, it takes me right back to that story. 🙂

  12. Cassia says:

    I was going about my writing very much the same way (outlines, notes, etc.) and not getting very far. Now I try to sit and type, type, type my way into the book. And even music helps. I’ve been listening to pandora’s classical station, until this weekend when I discovered Amazon Cloud Player. I just downloaded a free album all with Turkish music to help inspire and push the envelope with the rest of this book (happens to take place between the mesopotamian/mediterranean regions so I thought it would help me sink deeper into their realm by hearing music from that area). Very inspiring blog, thank you!

    • I can relate to both you and Natalie’s experience. I felt nuts starting a novel – like I had no clue what I was doing. So I dug into reading about how to write a book, the best processes for outlining, plotting, etc., timelines and project management for a few weeks. Oh and character sketches. All of that is good and has a place, but it wasn’t until I sat down and just wrote a piece of the story that I felt it could all make sense. Do I know what I’m doing now? Nope. Heh, heh.

      Haven’t done much with Pandora and the Turkish music sounds delightful. I will check out both. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Cassia!

    • That is sooo cool Cassia. It’s amazing how many of us share in similar experiences. It helps me feel soooo much more normal. For awhile, I was afraid that maybe this book writing things wasn’t for me….a life long dream! But what I have realized is it’s just not as “easy” as I thought it’d be. Which is ok by me. I like hard work.
      LOVE the Turkish music – what a GREAT idea!! Woot woot! I’m off to check out Amazon’s Cloud Player – thanks for that little ditty!

  13. Lena Corazon says:

    Fantastic post, Natalie! Using music to motivate my writing is one of my favorite things to do. I have crazy long playlists for each WIP, and even playlists that are specific to certain scenes and characters. Definitely helps to get me into the zone. 😀

    • “I have crazy long playlists for each WIP, and even playlists that are specific to certain scenes and characters.” Love this, Lena! Will be adopting. 🙂

    • LOVE that Lena – how cool is that! I knew you’d totally get the music inspiration thing…I love how you showcase it on your own blog! Sooo cool!! And you even create them for specific characters and scenes?!?! WOW – I’ll definitely be trying that out!
      Thanks honey!!

  14. Debra Kristi says:

    Hello ladies! *waves* I was here and read this the other night but was too tired to comment. Thanks for link to me Natalie. <> I think every writer needs to find their own process. I’m tickled that something I said helped Natalie along in her writing. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with! Her blog always leaves me a notch or two higher (unless, of course, she’s talking about drunk drivers). I totally agree with Jenny, Natalie has a book in her; sometimes it just takes us longer to find it. I don’t do serious outlines like some. I bullet point important points and let the story guide itself in between. I find that works best for me. Sometimes I don’t have a clue where it’s going until I sit down and write it. Thanks for a great guest post Natalie and Barbara.

    • Thanks for popping back to comment, Debra! You are so right about process and I think that messes with all writers starting out. I can flashback to stuff I was told as “gospel” in some creative writing classes that flat out doesn’t work for me. I also have folders of little darlings that have come from free write sessions or a round of editing and have nowhere to go. Everything we write won’t always work, but we keep writing.

  15. Pingback: A Celebration – My First Time Guest Blogging | Barbara McDowell's Blog

  16. Awesome post! Fear…yeah, it rides shotgun in my world, but I’m learning to block it out and embracing what is up ahead. It’s a process, but I know we will all be rocking 2012! I really enjoyed reading what’s going on in your mind, Natalie!!! Great job to you, too, Barbara!

    • Thanks for sharing that, Diana! When I read Natalie’s post, I loved it because she was knuckling down and confessing a fear and what she would do to fight it. I’m all about running towards fears for 2012. Those suckers might be there and have sparkly tentacles, but we can scurry by and get the goals done.

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