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Friday, December 22, 2006

On the writing journey, so much experience is gained…

Many people have the desire to write a novel. They enjoy reading and they toy with thoughts of writing and one day an idea comes to them. They think: That would make such an excellent plot. I’m going to write a book! - They sit down and get started.
Some of them kept with it… and some of them didn’t. Other people may have started writing simply because they have a passion for words and somewhere they picked up this need to write. It’s like breathing… one of life’s little necessities.

David Eddings said, “Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” Yeah… no joke there.

“Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.” Oscar Wilde

You do not want to see my first novel… it was never finished and I keep it close to me so that I can remind myself how far I’ve come. I’m not published. I’m not an expert. However, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned on my writing journey.

Subjective

If you don’t know what this word means, learn it. Right now. Come back when you know. I’ll wait here.

Writing is art. Art is subjective. You will not please everyone. Some people will love your work. Some people will hate it. Some people will think it reflects your intelligence or stupidity. They will all comment with their opinion.

Defense

If you want to seriously take part in the writing process… prepare your defense mechanisms now. This is termed: “grow a thick skin”. People have a multitude of ways to communicate and one day, someone will say “Wow, this is terrible. Your plot is boring, your characters are as flat as pancakes and your syntax is as crooked as John Boy’s teeth.”

Don’t cry. Don’t argue. Grin and bear it. Sometimes, those people are right and there is something you need to improve. Sometimes, those people are wrong. Regardless of how they say it, consider it to see if it has value TO YOU (see subjective) and then set it aside to consider when you do your revisions.

Revisions

If you are working on your manuscript and you aren’t finished with your novel. Put revisions aside. You will become lost in edits. The only thing writers get more obsessed about than writing the story… is editing the damn thing. I didn’t finish my first novel because I got lost in those edits. I changed main characters twice, changed the plot three times, rewrote the prologue scene, etc.

If you are going to write a novel, story, whatever… commit to it. Finish it… and then you get to play with your red pen.

This is a three part article and the continuation will be posted later today or tomorrow.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, you know what I say about a first draft: it is there purely so you can figure out where the story ends. Once you know that, you can go back and craft the rest of the book toward that ending.

Interesting thoughts, my friend. I go by the three-rule of criticism: if three people pick up on the same thing, time to fix it. Otherwise, trust your gut.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Rashenbo said...

Yeah... I thought I knew how it would end... I just never actually got there! :) I even wrote it as a short story so that I could go through the main gist of the story...

I also follow the rule of three. One comment on it and I just make a note of it. Second comment and I make sure that I've got it printed or I make a note of it on my printed copy... third comment and my flag is raised and the item (section, character trait, plot point) gets put in my - "make this better" file.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Georganna Hancock said...

Sounds like you're finding out the most important features of the process. I like the quotation by Eddings. Sounds like one that floats around for learning watercolor painting: the first 500 don't count!

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Lswriter said...

Wise words! I will be tuning in to part two to agree with you! :D

12:15 AM  
Blogger Thomma Lyn said...

I second all your advice, and especially the thick skin thing.

Writers must have thick skins, especially if they're going to persevere to publication. For one thing, critique is important, IMO, on the writer's path: getting feedback on your work from trusted beta readers and from other writers. Writers often have a hard time seeing problems in their work, but regular critique -- giving and getting! -- is highly useful and instructive. Sometimes it's a bit ouchy, but continuing participation in constructive critiquing lessens the ouch and increases a writer's skill.

Also on the thick skin front are dealing with all the dang rejections. A writer has simply got to develop alligator hide to hang in there with the submission roller-coaster ride that's almost always (unless the writer is very, very lucky) a huge part of getting published.

Thanks for a great article, Rashenbo!

1:23 PM  
Anonymous writtenwyrdd said...

Slavery! I refuse to submit to such linear BS!
ok, so I do that red pen stuff as I go along. Must. Resist...

3:50 PM  
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8:42 AM  

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