A fellow blogger published a post earlier called 10 Things Aspiring Novelists Should know. Well done. The link is there for you if you’d like to read it–and you very well should–but, I thought about this over and over and there are a few things I wanted to add to that list. I had a running commentary in my head the entire time I read the post. I’m not going to give you her post and then my response to it, but rather write an entirely new list. After all, if I just gave you hers and then added my two cents, you would’t learn nearly as much from either of us lol.
So, without tweedle-dumming around, here is my list.
1–Write whatever the heck you want to write. Just write. And then write some more. And, after that, write in the bedroom. Then, move to the kitchen and write in there. Write all over the place or keep one specific place to write. But, just write, okay.
2– Read stuff. Lots of stuff. Read magazines, comic books, romance, horror, science fiction, non-fiction, and pamphlets in the doctor’s office. The more you read, the better off you’ll be. After all, a writer who chooses not to read is like a scientist who chooses not to learn the periodic table of elements. It just doesn’t work. Chances are, if you’re not fond of reading, you want to be a writer for money and fame and nothing else.
And as you can see by my overwhelming lack of celebrity status and the missing yacht from my driveway, writers do not always become rich, famous celebrities.
3–Some folks say to write what you know, but I say write what you see. Depending on the genre you’re writing, you may not know anything about what you’re writing because it may not have been invented or discovered yet. Like time machines and the planet Uberdork. Some writers will see things they actually do know, which is wonderful. But, never think you have to fit into a mold and do things by the book just to be published.
4–Create your characters first. This is a lesson that was particularly difficult for me to learn, but my friend George hammered this habit into my head fairly hard and I think it finally stuck. And, you know what? He was right. Create normal people or create immortal creatures, monsters, goblins, or whatever your heart desires. Give them depth. Write out a character sketch for these characters and write out some background for them before you start writing your story (if you want to…but, if you’re new to writing, I would suggest at least giving it a try). As long as you can create real, lifelike characters and really give them their own voices, your story will pretty well tell itself, sort of. Not completely. You still have actual work to do.
5–Set up a writing schedule and try your best to stick to it. Stop making excuses. Sit down and write, even when you’re not in the mood. You can always go back and change things that ultimately suck later if you have to. Don’t beat yourself to death if you can’t stick to your schedule to a tee, but make a conscious effort. You will be much more successful in finishing your projects this way.
6–Read some more, but this time read something in a genre you’re not used to or fond of. Choose a book you wouldn’t normally choose. I’ve gone through genre phases throughout my life. As a kid, I started out reading comic books. By the time I reached eleven years old, I’d moved on to good ol’ Billy Bob Shakespeare. After Romeo and Juliet, I phased into reading historical romances, then historical anything else, and by the time I was a freshman in high school, I began reading more horror and science fiction as well as romance novels ranging from historical to contemporary to paranormal. Nowadays, I lean toward paranormal novels of any sub genre. I love horror–zombies, gremlins, imps, witches, and of course, vampires. I also have a real sweet spot for books of any genre that include time travel. The more you read, the more open your mind becomes the more you’re exposed to new possibilities. Don’t cut yourself short by only reading one thing.
7–Do not limit yourself, your stories, or your characters in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Characters shouldn’t have to fit any cookie cutter mold and neither should their plots.
8–Take some time to smell the roses. Go on a fishing trip. Book a hotel in town for the night just to order room service and watch television uninterrupted by your normal life. Take a walk through the park. Go to your local community center and take a knitting class. Join a gym. Live your life. Life experiences make you a better, more perceptive writer.
9–Take advise from more experienced authors, but don’t take it all straight to heart. Just because bestselling author XYZ drinks 3 oz. of lizard spit every morning because he swears it helps his creative juices start to flow doesn’t mean you should do it, too. Like most things in life, rules you were taught as children often apply to the writing business–as far as etiquette and common sense goes–as well. Just because Bob jumps off a bridge, do you think you should jump with him? No. No, you should not. But, you could bungee if you want to.
10–Do not measure your success by comparing yourself to other authors. Authors who write for the love of the craft are just as valuable–more, in my opinion–than writers who write with the full intent to become millionaires. You’ll meet your fair share of each of those kinds of authors when you get started. You’ll quickly learn to figure out which ones are which. If you write romance, do it because you love it, not because romance books sell. If you write horror, write the heck out of that stuff! Don’t worry about what Stephen King is doing (but, buy his books because he is awesome).
Alternately, do not measure the worth of another author by the amount of money they make, the status of their publisher, or what their sales are currently looking like. There are a lot of diamonds sparkling in the coal pile, just waiting to be picked. Well, read. Whatever.
A quick note to my followers and anyone else who happened upon my blog:
From time to time, I do post things intended to help other authors along. We all have our moments of doubt and sometimes we need a push. Sometimes, when we read things focused on the craft of writing, it ignites a fuse inside our weirdo brains that causes us to write marvelous things. That’s why I do it. Not because I feel like I have to. Just because I want others to go forth and write. I do like to read, so I suppose it’s rather selfish of me to push others along if you think about it that way… Nonetheless, if you feel like something I’ve said is wrong, please explain which thing and why in comments. A good conversation or argument with intelligence instead of nastiness is always welcome. 😀
Write on, folks.