I first met Rachel Del last year, when we were both offering our books as part of author Jenny Bravo's holiday book giveaway. Rachel is the author of How To Be Someone Else and the Second Chances series, which includes Losing Lily, Finding Lily, and Fixing Tanner. She posts about her writing process daily on Instagram. I've always admired the way she shares the ups-and-downs of writing life, and reached out to ask her some more questions about her process. She shared her answers in the interview below! You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can sign up for the beautiful worst to enter to win a free e-version of How To Be Someone Else.
What is your process like? Can you give us an example of a day in the life of author Rachel Del?
I used to be a pantser, through and through, but I learned my lesson while writing How To Be Someone Else. There were a lot of times that I really struggled with my word count and got terribly frustrated and I realized it was because I had no idea where I was headed with my story. As a result, I re-wrote a lot, which always hurts as a writer (having to throw words away). But I came out the other end knowing that I was a born again plotter.
I think that my days look like a lot of other side hustlers out there. You know the type: we work a full-time job, have kids, and then in the remainder of the time we’re hustling to run our own business, or write novels … whatever it is. I wish I could call writing my full-time job, but I’m just not there yet, and that’s okay.
Most of my weekdays look the same. I try to wake up around 5 a.m. so that I can get in an hour of writing before my son wakes up, because once he does, I have to snap into parenting mode pretty quickly. He starts daycare at 8 a.m., and I sit down at my home office to work. I work full-time as an Operations Manager of an online book publisher, so basically my whole life consists of books. Heaven! At around 4:00-4:30, my son and husband are back home and we spend the rest of the evening until my son’s bedtime together. Once my son is asleep, if I have the energy, I jump back into my writing. Sometimes I sneak off to Starbucks just to get out of the house. Since I work from home all the time, it’s pretty nice to work somewhere else.
The weekends are a lot more jumbled. There’s no strict timeline. Sometimes I will steal away for an hour to write while my son is outside with my husband, and other times he wants my undivided attention. Lately I’ve taken to an early Sunday morning writing session at Starbucks. I try to be in my seat, coffee in hand by 7:30 a.m.
How To Be Someone Else is your first stand-alone novel. How was writing a stand-alone book different from working on the Second Chances series?
It’s funny you ask this, because when I was trying to decide what to write after How To Be Someone Else, I kind of thought it was obvious that I would dive back into my Second Chances series. A lot of people responded to the character of Leah Foster in Fixing Tanner, and I had a rough outline for a continuation of her and Tanner’s story. But when it came time to expand on my outline, I was completely blocked. It took me a while to figure out that I needed a fresh start. It doesn’t mean that Leah won’t someday have her story, it just means not yet.
Writing a standalone is at once easier and harder than working on a series. On one hand, you have fresh new characters to shape and mold as you like. There aren’t any expectations about how they should act. In a series, especially the deeper you get into one, you have to be conscious of how your characters should act. How they speak. Their personalities. Their quirks. Their past. It’s a lot to remember, and sometimes it feels restricting. Writing How To Be Someone Else was incredibly freeing because I didn’t have to worry about any of that. I just got to write.
Your characters, in all your books, live and work in Las Vegas. Do you imagine them existing in the city at the same time? Is there any potential for a cross-over story where they meet each other?
Oh my gosh, I’ve never thought of that before! It would be kind of interesting for them all to meet, wouldn’t it? If Tanner (from Fixing Tanner) were his old self, I’m sure he would hit on Penny (from HTBSE), but thank goodness he grew up and found himself a real woman. And wouldn’t it be interesting if Lily and Nate became Penny’s book editors?
You’ve put some ideas into my head, Katie!
What's currently on your TBR list?
A lot, unfortunately. I’m about a week into writing my new novel, which always cuts into my reading time. I would love to get more time to read Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, and I will definitely be jumping into After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I just finished reading One True Loves by Reid and I’m a big fan now. I need to jump back into Vinyl by Sophia E. Hanson and then I’m really hoping to get an advanced look at Seat 2A by my friend Dela.
Do you have any tips for writers who are just starting?
Honestly (I actually just posted about this on Instagram), the best thing an aspiring writer, or any writer for that matter, can do to help themselves write, is to read amazing books. And read a lot. I’ve read some incredible books lately that have inspired me in so many different ways. For example: R.S. Grey inspired me to tell a story with my setting, the way she so beautifully did in A Place In The Sun. Read books in the genre you wish to write in, and then read some in the complete opposite. Note what you like or don’t like about the writing … learn from them!
I have friends who look at me in awe that I’ve written a novel (and a few novellas), like it’s this incredibly impossible thing. It isn’t, but you have to want it. You have to really want it. These friends all say, “I don’t know how to do this or that” and to them I say: just start. You can’t do anything with a blank page.
You have to read, you have to want it, and you have to sit your butt down on that chair every single day and write.