Golden Rules

October 13, 2009

There is a lot of advice about writing a novel that goes way beyond correcting sentence structure and grammar. Piles and piles of books that help you get into the rhythm and mind set of a writer to ensure your success. Having spent years reading about the do’s and don’ts of writing a novel, here is a collection of some of the most useful advice I have encountered.

And maybe someday you might write a list just like this and include my advice. Ah, the circle of life.

1. Always Write – I think writer’s block to some degree is inevitable and, rather unfortunately, unavoidable. You’re unhappy with the dialogue, there’s a problem with continuity, you halt progress for edits and rewrites, you have an idea for a different story, or the end of your novel just seems so dang far away. There are many reasons for writer’s block. None of which is predictable. But don’t stop. When you stop thinking and behaving like a writer, you won’t be one anymore.

 Writing is like a work-out routine (and if you’re like me, it’s one of your New Year’s resolutions to write a novel). It’s hard to take that first big step and you put it off day after day, week after week. But you finally do it. You start writing, start working-out, and it’s tough. Really tough. You don’t think you can do it and might as well quit. But keep going. No pain, no gain. And it gets easier with regularity and routine. But when you stop that work-out for a couple days, couple weeks or longer, what happens when you start working out again? You have to go through the same struggle to get re-accustomed.

 But always write. Find something to write. Keep a journal, organize research, write a scene you would like to include later, or coughwriteablogaboutwritingcough. It might seem stupid to write something completely unrelated to your novel, but it’s also stupid for a marathon runner to be a couch potato in between races.

 And as the great motivational and over-muscular health-nuts say; YOU CAN DO IT!

2. Be a Writer – I could never understand how one becomes a writer. Do you have to post an announcement in the newspaper, does someone need to give you permission to be a writer, or are you just born with it? The correct answer is none of the above. The moment you make a decision to write, ta-da you’re a writer.

But it really isn’t enough to call yourself a writer, you have to be one too. Act like one. Write all the time (see above). Set aside some time on a regular basis and let everyone know that you’re writing, working, and to please not disturb you. We all know writing is a lot of work, so treat it like a job. Sure it’s easy not to show up for work when you’re the boss, but you’re great novel won’t write itself. Life will always try to interrupt. You have to tell it that it will have to wait another two hours because you have work to do. You’ll be writing. Is there someone else who’s trying to disturb you? Let them know what’s going on to and designate them to take care of things while you’re working. Are they the problem? Go somewhere else where you know you won’t be interrupted frequently.

Don’t think you have time? Find time. I have an hour long train commute that I devote to writing to and from work. Analyze your schedule and find a time that you could utilize writing. If there is no opportune time, schedule yourself a time to write and stick to it.

Some other good advice about being a writer:

Keep a notebook and pen. ALWAYS!

Set goals for yourself each time you write. Word count, finish chapter two, etc.

You might not find specific answers in a book or Google, but don’t be afraid to do some research.

Save your work frequently and try to avoid the temptation to delete old or unused work.

Get other people involved. Share your ideas or ask them to read your work. Don’t be shy.

Take pride in your work.

3. Don’t Listen to Any Advice – I made a great effort to learn about being a writer, but until I did it for myself it was all just theory, hints, and tips. While the advice I have shared is advice that I follow, it doesn’t always work. What might be useful to one writer is not necessarily helpful to the next. What might have helped you through writer’s block last time might not help you again the next time. The only person you need to listen to is you. Find what works for YOU!

Happy writing!


Once Upon a Time

October 13, 2009

Writing a novel is like maintaining a relationship. You spend all of you time getting to know and understand your novel just like you would with a new man in your life. You commit to making things work, being faithful, and seeing things through to the happily ever after.

But relationships can be messy things. They need to be maintained and require sacrifice when necessary to ensure success. You might wonder if it woud be easier to dump your novel and get a fresh start and try something new. But men will always be men. Novels will be novels. Both are complex and no two are alike. But when you get through the struggles there’s something wonderful.

This time last year I commited to writting a novel. I had made that same commitment many times before but I had a feeling this time would be different. This time my novel would have a beginning, hopefully a middle, and maybe even an end!

I’ve made a relationship work before… and have an awesome husband to show for it. Maybe just maybe I could write a novel too.

And I did it! Beginning, middle, and end.

Getting published is on my list of things to do. Certainly not with this novel, but someday with something. What I gained last year was the experience that I need to go forward. I have made subtle changes in my life that are more accomodating to the commitment that writing requires.

It’s my job to write now. I’m a press assistant (won’t say for who, sorry) and get paid to write carefully selected words in the form of press releases and statements. I spend a lot of time conducting research and my work is used and distributed by various media outlets.

I discuss my novel-writing thought process openly with my mother. Mommies are good for being critically honest and totally supportive when you need that too. She checks on my progress weekly and just last week she called me out on slacking. 😦

My husband knows I enjoy writing and is very accomodating of my hobby. He gives me time to think alone and even gets my laptop packed up and ready to go for my rail commute each day. He’s even offers to let me get back to writing… even though he was most likely just interuppting a game of solitare.

So that’s my life as a, dare-I-say, writer.

And what of the novel?

It is still untitled and still desperately in need of more substance. The substance is there in my head but gets lost between my brain and the computer. But I never gave up on my husband. I’m not giving up on this novel.

The re-write begins…

Happy writing!