Let me be real, writing a book is not an easy task. You don’t just sit down and write the story in your head. Sure that’s how you start but a lot happens in the midst of doing that. Your characters will teach you that what you thought about them was wrong.
Here are some other things I’ve learned while writing my first novel:
- New characters are going to show up whether you invite them or not. And when they show up don’t try and shoo them away, you have to at least listen to what they have to offer.
- Face it, you are going to write A LOT of words that are not going to make it into the finished book.
- The above fact is something you have to accept and get over. Move on, don’t look back. Unless you’re like me and copy and paste some of that stuff into a different folder in hopes of using it in other works at a later date.
- There are going to be too many days during which you can’t muster up the interest to even look at your story. You’re going to be frustrated and disappointed and even lost. Writing a book is not like butter; it doesn’t soften and get easier to spread if you just leave it out.
- BUT despite the above bullet point, you have to continue your work. There are few parts of life that are only ever pleasant, but we push on. We persevere. Writers get over these humps and back to the story. I keep reminding myself that right now I just need to get the story out. One foot in front of the other; one word after the other.
- What you start with is likely to change. Period.
- Don’t get hung up on names. It’s okay to use a stand in name for a character so you can keep writing. The same goes for your title. Just get to writing and worry about such details later.
- Be humble enough to admit you’re making excuses. Yes, sometimes I avoid writing because I don’t know what comes next. Sometimes I need a break. But, saying I just haven’t had time might be true sometimes but if I’m honest, I could make time to get it done. Be real with yourself about what you’re doing.
- It is okay if your first draft is crummy. Keep writing.
- Write your story, not what you think the market wants.
- Remember that crafting a story takes many forms. Brainstorming, building character profiles, story-mapping, world-building, creating backgrounds, etc are all part of your writing. So give yourself credit for doing these things, they count. Don’t hesitate to do them if you’re not and you’re focused only on writing words.
- Do Not expect to include all of the above in your story. Some of what you write is just for you and your work. Putting all the background you’ve gathered in your book is likely to exhaust your reader. Wouldn’t you say from your experience that this is true?
- Write with your own voice but know that reading books is part of studying the craft. Learn how to read in a way that teaches you, benefits your writing, and builds your knowledge of the craft. This month I’ll be reading The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark. I thank fellow blogger Charli Mills at The Carrot Ranch Dynamic Literary Community for suggesting this book to me.
While this list is in no way exhaustive (I’m always learning more), these are some of the things I think important to keep in mind while writing.
If you are a writer and want to share some of the things you’ve learned from writing please do! I love comments! Thanks for reading.