So You Want to Write A…

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“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

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So you want to write a….

….Novel….

….A novella….

….A short story….

….An encyclopedia of the Star Wars expanded universe—pre-Disney and post-Disney….

Maybe you’ve done some creative writing in high school and college and now you have the bug to be more serious about it.

Or maybe you’ve never put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, for anything other than required papers a school or emails and now you have the bug to write something. Maybe you even have a great story idea…but you’re not sure how to get it out and down and into the world.

That’s okay. Neither did I.

And, to tell you the truth…I still don’t. Meaning—I’m still learning.

Everything I’ve ever written is its own beast. Every paper I wrote in college, every email I wrote to clients as a life coach, every poem or story or blog post I’ve written is its own thing. And each one teaches me more about the craft.

Writing is an incredibly daunting experience, fraught with a lot of negativity—your own, from others. As I wrote Backbeat, my first novel, I had someone very close to me say, “Well, don’t get your hopes up about publishing it. I’m here to make it less daunting and give you ways to create a Teflon shield to any negativity you’ll possibly encounter.

I’m not going to do you the disservice of telling you I can make writing easy for you, but it can become easier. There’s a big difference between the two.

So hooray to you that you want to start a writing project!

Or maybe you’re well into one—or have several works under your belt. Or perhaps you’re published or waiting for that status. And, if you’re like me, I love reading about how other people write and how they get their works out to the world, as it ads to my arsenal of creativity. I’ve found the more tools you have, the easier it is to create.

As Stephen King said in On Writing in his very tongue-in-cheek way, (or at least the quote was something to this effect), “Writing good is easy. Writing well is hard.”

This is not a “how to write” series of posts. Instead, they’re aimed more towards encouraging you to either start writing, or keep on writing.

Rather, it’s more of a “how to develop your writing”.

I want to help you make writing well easy. Or at least easier. Writing is still tough and can feel like trying to schlep an elephant up Mt. Everest. In a snowstorm. At night.

But it’s worth the effort and I want to help you through that effort, no matter what it is you’re writing.

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I believe that writing is best and most satisfyingly approached if you do it for yourself and only for yourself. Feedback is helpful (opinions about your writing isn’t feedback as it’s not constructive), but the more you focus on what others might think about your story, the easier it is to become beset with so much self doubt you may not even try.

There are writers who are worse than you and writers who are better than you. There are also horrible writers who land three-book deals and writers who are basically sitting on the next Great American Novel Classic, but can’t find an agent or publisher. You’d have better luck creating a trap guaranteed to catch a unicorn every time it’s set than try to figure out the mechanics of the world of writing and publishing.

Yes, it’s thrilling to entertain the idea of a book you’ve written as a best-seller with millions of readers, but even authors who do will tell you they write for the enjoyment of it. The best-sellers and even movie deals are merely a nice offshoot of their passion. It’s not why they write.

That’s what this series of posts is about, really—giving you ways I’ve come to understand that keeps you wanting to write. I do talk about it from keeping your readers reading, yes…but, ultimately, it’s still about you writing for you, even if the stories never leave your possession.

But I also want to encourage you to publish your stories some how, either through Amazon (which does an amazing job), a well-reputed “vanity press” or a “regular” publishing house. (I’ll touch on the ins and outs, pluses and minuses of publishing in a later post.)

Overall, however, I approached these posts from a perspective of not only encouraging you to continue to write, no matter what, but to also “de-confuse” (to coin a word) about aspects of writing that are often mentioned as important, but without any kind of explanation.

For example, in many “how to write” articles and books (which again this isn’t) you’ll read, “Editing is important!” but not exactly why. You’ll read, “Research is important!”…but not exactly why. When I mention these aspects of writing to burgeoning authors, I’m often met with the question of, “Why?”

My thought is that by explaining the “Why” and giving examples, how I deal with times I get stuck, you’ll better understand why the more mundane aspects of the writing process, such as editing and research, are helpful and necessary, and how they can keep you inspired to continue your story or stories.

I also speak from my personal perspective about what I’ve found works to make the whole writing process easier.

I would love to have feedback from you.

I’d like to hear what you liked about the posts, what you think I should add, how the exercises I provided did (or didn’t) work for you.

I would also love to hear the way you create your writing process.

When I create the book, I’d then include your personal ideas (with just your first name, no personal details) for people, as I feel that the more tools someone has to create their craft, the easier it is for them to make their works in progress works in motion.

So, yes—do send me feedback. And if you want to provide an article of your own to post about your process, please contact me. (Information can be found here.)

Here are my first few suggestions:

Make sure you have notepads everywhere as you never know when an idea will strike you.

And by everywhere, I mean everywhere.

That way you won’t forget it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of something I want to include in a story or a blog post and think to myself, “Oh, this is good! I’ll definitely remember this!” and then, later, all I can think is, “Dammit…I had a good idea. What was it?!” Sometimes it returns, but often it doesn’t.

I use my phone’s notepad feature, and I will also email ideas to myself, sometimes in the subject line, then expand upon them in the body. This way I’ll see it when I log into my email and be reminded of it.

Another great way to get your notes down is to send yourself an email; this is my favorite way of noting an idea if I can’t actually write it down, such as in the grocery store or 2 a.m.; in these moments it’s easier to pull out my phone, create an email with my idea in the subject line, then send it to myself.

And get a white board for your bathroom. I’ve been meanin[powr-button id=c933adf5_1489457189140]g to do that for years; it’s amazing how often plot holes fill in or I figure out how to fix a badly-written scene—or even something to add in that’s new—and I’m shampooing my hair.

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Have a dedicated space to write. Or at least a time.

This can be a comfy chair with your laptop on a tray, alone in a favorite pub or coffee shop, the basement, the garage, a corner of your living room. Your writing space doesn’t have to be tidy. It doesn’t have to be an official office. It could simply be a closet where you sit inside on the floor, laptop or tablet on your legs. Or may vary frequently. That’s fine.

I do and don’t agree with the idea of needing to write every day. Well, let me expand on that. I do if I’m actively working on a project such as these posts or a novel. But if I’m in a lull for writing, I don’t do anything. That’s my time to catch up on my reading, or back episodes of a favorite TV show sitting in my DVR. And sometimes this is exactly what your creative mind needs, as it’s often in these lulls you suddenly get an idea for your story—how to fix a plot hole, a new scene or conversation. This is why having notepads within reach everywhere is handy.

Be gentle with yourself as you craft your writing projects, whatever they may be.

This does sound rather sappy, I know. But I hear from many writers who are so hard on themselves about their writing (being in a lull, not able to fix a passage exactly as they want) that it’s almost as if they’re trying to bully themselves into a creative mode.

This doesn’t work.

Writing is challenging and even grueling at times, but getting upset with yourself because you can’t make something perfect, or you can’t quite get down what you have in your head—or any number of ways you can possibly beat yourself up over your writing—only serves to make the process harder and to exacerbate your frustration as a whole.

Your stories will not fall out of you perfectly made; it’s likely you’ll find that you’ve written some absolute schlock—sometimes so schlocky you’re embarrassed.

You will get stuck (and these posts are aimed to help you get unstuck.) You will sometimes scrap entire scenes, chapters or even a draft and have to start completely over. Sometimes even works you’ve spent weeks and months and maybe even years on.

Or maybe, like when your best friend reads an early—but decent—draft of your novel and says, “I like the story. But your ending needs to go at the beginning, and the beginning at the end.”

(And you realize it’s true…so there you are, five drafts in and essentially having to start completely over.)

That’s okay. That doesn’t mean you “can’t” write—it’s something all writers run into.

So if you’ve been procrastinating on starting something because of the fear of writing schlock, start writing. As Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” My joke is that as soon as I finished my first draft for Coming Home, I started a second first draft. The first one was terrible from a story-telling aspect, but it was a great framework from which I could build upon.

You have to put down something—even if it comes out sounding embarrassingly awful. That’s when you can make changes and keep improving it.

That’s the neat thing about writing—it isn’t set in stone; you can edit it.

Here are some of the subjects I plan to cover:

  • Publishing
  • Editing
  • Research
  • Writer’s block
  • Developing your plot and your characters (to create a sense of realism)
  • Creating realistic dialogue
  • How to ignore naysayers about your writing goal or goals
  • Feedback (giving and receiving)
  • How to keep yourself inspired and motivated

(Yes, these are your garden-variety subjects, but, again, it’ll all be from how I’ve personally come to work with the writing process).

I will also be publishing guest posts, so you can have other perspectives on how to write that aren’t just mine. (The whole “more-tools-for-your-toolbox” thing.)

I’ll be posting two “writing about writing” articles each week on Mondays and Thursdays, something of my own on most Wednesdays, and guest posts on Saturdays.

And just so you know, I’m still learning how to write.

And I always will be.

It’s an ever-morphing craft, and that’s what’s so amazing about it. I learn something new every time I create something.

Writing is a fabulous, terrible, exciting, frustrating. But it’s also  an extremely rewarding process. My goal is to help you continue to hold the joy of writing within you, even if you’re feeling quite flummoxed or thwarted by a character, scene, chapter or plot line.

Maybe you’ll be the one signing a book for me!

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