Becca Syme: Helping Fellow Authors Write Better, Faster

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I’m not calling anybody out here, but there were—ahem!—five years between the publication of my first novel, THE MEMORY THIEF, and my second one, THE DREAM KEEPER’S DAUGHTER. In between, I wrote another book. I loved the storyline and my crazy, flawed characters—but alas, the plot didn’t quite coalesce, and so after over a year of writing and revisions, I had to scrap it and start a new project.

The wheels of traditional publication grind slowly, and so what with one thing and another, I wound up with a substantial gap between my two novels. I wanted to learn how to write more quickly, but without sacrificing quality—and so I absorbed a lot of advice: Write in the morning, before everyone else has woken up. Write in the evening, after everyone has gone to bed! Use Scrivener. Never use Scrivener! Be sure to plot; it’ll streamline your whole process. Ah, don’t plot; it’s boring and things change anyway. Leverage social media to build community. Stay off social media, it’s distracting and leads to odious comparisons with other authors. Write every day, only write when the spirit moves you, read this magical craft book which will CHANGE EVERYTHING, get your butt in the chair and just produce words, get up from the chair and take a walk to stimulate your brain, find your process organically, pick a process and stick with it, write short stories, focus on your novel, roll around in a vat of chocolate until the flood of endorphins has made you oblivious to all of life’s woes…

OK, maybe not the last one. But I do wish someone had recommended it. Sounds like a good time.

I was on the verge of rending my garments when I found Becca Syme’s amazing “Write Better Faster” class. The incredible thing about this class is that it takes a psychometric coaching-based approach to developing personalized writing strategies. Instead of telling myself I was ‘just lazy’ because of my chronic inability to wake up at four AM and string together coherent sentences (or outline an entire novel before writing it, or manage my characters’ backstories via an Excel spreadsheet), I suddenly understood WHY these things are anathema to me…and what approaches are most likely to work.

It was sort of miraculous, y’all.

Gentle readers, I give you the awesome Becca Syme. 

Like many of us, you’ve taken a circuitous path to writing novels, including studying organizational leadership in seminary—though I know you’ve always written! Tell us a little bit about your journey—what led you to your career as an author and productivity coach?

I always wanted to be an author–so I’ve always been writing on the side, even when I wasn’t actively pursuing it. But I did go into an MFA program after being an English major, so I do think I had creative writing ambitions, even professionally, although you’re right, it was totally circuitous after that. I worked in non-profits, went to Seminary, did consulting, worked in communications, all while doing psychometric coaching. That, and writing, have been the two consistent things in my life. But I like taking the real experience I’ve had in my jobs and peppering it into my writing. My cozy mystery, for instance, is about a part-time pastor who opens a bakery and then solves crime. Half of that is my real life experience. 🙂 (I won’t say which half… mwahaha…)

You write cozy mysteries, small town romances, and historical romance novels. What draws you to these genres? Do you have a favorite child—so to speak—amongst all of the books you’ve written?

My favorite child is definitely the Vangie Vale series. It’s the one I’ve enjoyed the most, and definitely the one I’m most proud of. I spent a couple of years developing the series, and the books have taken advantage of my Strengths, from a personality standpoint. I’ve enjoyed writing everything I’ve tried my hand at, but this is definitely where I feel the most at home.

I personally have taken your amazing Write Better Faster class. It’s incredible and gave me a whole new perspective into why I write—and work—the way I do. Can you share a glimpse into what the class is all about, and how you connected the dots in order to apply personality/strengths assessments to writing strategies?

Thanks so much, Emily. It was great to have you in class. I really love this class. When I first started doing psychometric coaching (coaching based on brain wiring and personality profiling), I found that it applies to every single piece of life, and so when I started seeing some of my friends struggling with why certain things about writing weren’t working for them, I started doing some informal coaching. I found it worked really well for them, so I decided to start teaching a class. It’s been a great ride, helping so many people. I love that part. Seeing people transform. It’s the whole reason I do this.

What’s the most common question or complaint you hear in your WBF classes—and the most valuable, across-the-board advice you can give?

That’s a great question. The complaints (while consistent across profiles) are so different from each other. But probably what I hear the most is some version of, “why doesn’t X strategy work?” or “what’s wrong with me because the strategy doesn’t work?” and my answer is always, it probably doesn’t fit with your wiring, and there’s nothing wrong with you. You just shouldn’t be doing that thing–whatever it is. There’s a lot of advice floating around out there, people saying, “all writers do X” whatever X is, because it worked for the person who’s talking about it, they go too far assuming that everyone is wired like they are. But they’re just not. Any strategy is only going to work for about half the people. So, what do the other half do? It’s time to figure out how your brain works, and find things to execute that will make you successful.

What’s your next book, and when is it coming out?

My next book is VANGIE VALE AND THE LARCENOUS LAVA CAKE, and it comes out this summer! 🙂

What didn’t I ask that I should’ve? Whatever it is, please answer it here!

Thanks so much for having me, Emily. It was great to be here. And thanks for taking Write Better-Faster. Love to hear that it’s helped people!

Bio

R.L. Syme, MATL (Becca) specializes in psychometric productivity coaching and has a background in the study of transformation and organizational/personal management. She’s coached and consulted individuals and businesses from a range of backgrounds. She is also the USA Today best-selling author of cozy mystery, romantic suspense, and small town romance books. She lives in Montana with her wine-drinking cat and the most spectacular skyline in the known world outside her office window. You can find her at http://rlsyme.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/rlsyme.

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I’m not calling anybody out here, but there were—ahem!—five years between the publication of my first novel, THE MEMORY THIEF, and my second one, THE DREAM KEEPER’S DAUGHTER. In between, I wrote another book. I loved the storyline and my crazy, flawed characters—but alas, the plot didn’t quite coalesce, and so after over a year of writing and revisions, I had to scrap it and start a new project.

The wheels of traditional publication grind slowly, and so what with one thing and another, I wound up with a substantial gap between my two novels. I wanted to learn how to write more quickly, but without sacrificing quality—and so I absorbed a lot of advice: Write in the morning, before everyone else has woken up. Write in the evening, after everyone has gone to bed! Use Scrivener. Never use Scrivener! Be sure to plot; it’ll streamline your whole process. Ah, don’t plot; it’s boring and things change anyway. Leverage social media to build community. Stay off social media, it’s distracting and leads to odious comparisons with other authors. Write every day, only write when the spirit moves you, read this magical craft book which will CHANGE EVERYTHING, get your butt in the chair and just produce words, get up from the chair and take a walk to stimulate your brain, find your process organically, pick a process and stick with it, write short stories, focus on your novel, roll around in a vat of chocolate until the flood of endorphins has made you oblivious to all of life’s woes…

OK, maybe not the last one. But I do wish someone had recommended it. Sounds like a good time.

I was on the verge of rending my garments when I found Becca Syme’s amazing “Write Better Faster” class. The incredible thing about this class is that it takes a psychometric coaching-based approach to developing personalized writing strategies. Instead of telling myself I was ‘just lazy’ because of my chronic inability to wake up at four AM and string together coherent sentences (or outline an entire novel before writing it, or manage my characters’ backstories via an Excel spreadsheet), I suddenly understood WHY these things are anathema to me…and what approaches are most likely to work.

It was sort of miraculous, y’all.

Gentle readers, I give you the awesome Becca Syme. 

Like many of us, you’ve taken a circuitous path to writing novels, including studying organizational leadership in seminary—though I know you’ve always written! Tell us a little bit about your journey—what led you to your career as an author and productivity coach?

I always wanted to be an author–so I’ve always been writing on the side, even when I wasn’t actively pursuing it. But I did go into an MFA program after being an English major, so I do think I had creative writing ambitions, even professionally, although you’re right, it was totally circuitous after that. I worked in non-profits, went to Seminary, did consulting, worked in communications, all while doing psychometric coaching. That, and writing, have been the two consistent things in my life. But I like taking the real experience I’ve had in my jobs and peppering it into my writing. My cozy mystery, for instance, is about a part-time pastor who opens a bakery and then solves crime. Half of that is my real life experience. 🙂 (I won’t say which half… mwahaha…)

You write cozy mysteries, small town romances, and historical romance novels. What draws you to these genres? Do you have a favorite child—so to speak—amongst all of the books you’ve written?

My favorite child is definitely the Vangie Vale series. It’s the one I’ve enjoyed the most, and definitely the one I’m most proud of. I spent a couple of years developing the series, and the books have taken advantage of my Strengths, from a personality standpoint. I’ve enjoyed writing everything I’ve tried my hand at, but this is definitely where I feel the most at home.

I personally have taken your amazing Write Better Faster class. It’s incredible and gave me a whole new perspective into why I write—and work—the way I do. Can you share a glimpse into what the class is all about, and how you connected the dots in order to apply personality/strengths assessments to writing strategies?

Thanks so much, Emily. It was great to have you in class. I really love this class. When I first started doing psychometric coaching (coaching based on brain wiring and personality profiling), I found that it applies to every single piece of life, and so when I started seeing some of my friends struggling with why certain things about writing weren’t working for them, I started doing some informal coaching. I found it worked really well for them, so I decided to start teaching a class. It’s been a great ride, helping so many people. I love that part. Seeing people transform. It’s the whole reason I do this.

What’s the most common question or complaint you hear in your WBF classes—and the most valuable, across-the-board advice you can give?

That’s a great question. The complaints (while consistent across profiles) are so different from each other. But probably what I hear the most is some version of, “why doesn’t X strategy work?” or “what’s wrong with me because the strategy doesn’t work?” and my answer is always, it probably doesn’t fit with your wiring, and there’s nothing wrong with you. You just shouldn’t be doing that thing–whatever it is. There’s a lot of advice floating around out there, people saying, “all writers do X” whatever X is, because it worked for the person who’s talking about it, they go too far assuming that everyone is wired like they are. But they’re just not. Any strategy is only going to work for about half the people. So, what do the other half do? It’s time to figure out how your brain works, and find things to execute that will make you successful.

What’s your next book, and when is it coming out?

My next book is VANGIE VALE AND THE LARCENOUS LAVA CAKE, and it comes out this summer! 🙂

What didn’t I ask that I should’ve? Whatever it is, please answer it here!

Thanks so much for having me, Emily. It was great to be here. And thanks for taking Write Better-Faster. Love to hear that it’s helped people!

Bio

R.L. Syme, MATL (Becca) specializes in psychometric productivity coaching and has a background in the study of transformation and organizational/personal management. She’s coached and consulted individuals and businesses from a range of backgrounds. She is also the USA Today best-selling author of cozy mystery, romantic suspense, and small town romance books. She lives in Montana with her wine-drinking cat and the most spectacular skyline in the known world outside her office window. You can find her at http://rlsyme.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/rlsyme.

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