Saturday, September 24, 2011

Handy Writing Tips

1. Reading Angela Hunt's blog every day for a year won't get your novel written.  It will teach a whole lot about novel writing, but it won't get any of your actual words on your actual page.  Took me a whole year to figure that one out, so I'm passing it on to you.

2.  Reading every adult novel written by Angela Hunt, Nancy Rue, Kathryn Mackel and Lisa Samson will not get any of your actual words on your actual page either.  It will also teach a whole lot about novel writing, and if you read mindfully, you will learn a whole lot about your own goals as a writer, and what it is that you want your actual words to convey, should you ever get past your own crippling self-doubt and do that whole actual words/actual page thing.

3.  Believing every stupid lie your insecurity tells you will not get your novel written, and may - I give you this warning freely - turn you into a knitter.

I'm a mantra girl.  I love words, and when things are tough, I am apt to find a well-turned phrase to memorize and cling to and take out at three o'clock in the morning to look at and lean on.

So here are some of the things that got me through the first draft of my novel.

1. Murray Pura, in a novel writing workshop that I only went to because I was quite sure I couldn't write a novel and I may as well go listen to someone talk about it to prove to myself I was right - he talked for an hour and I remember two sentences.

Sentence One:  You can't edit a blank page.

Sentence Two, delivered at the end of the session, with his huge hands swirling the air as he spoke:  So, go, and spread the page with shining.

2. (source unknown) Don't get it right, get it written.  (see the homonyms?  oh how I love homonyms. Not sure if I love them enough to spell the word properly ...)

Apparently it's a short list.

Please don't ask me how to get the second draft done, once you've gotten all sorts of reader feedback, etc, but have no actual deadline.  The two things I've tried so far (texting a mentor until she changes her cell number, and blogging about writing) have been less than successful ...

(ETA: YES, Blogger, texting is a word.)


Colleen Taylor said...

Well, at least blogging gets *some* kinds of words one a virtual page.

Love the image: "So, go, and spread the page with shining." Mmmmm... applies to all kinds of art forms.

Marcia said...

Writing the second draft? Let the first one sit until you don't rememver it very well, then go back and you'll be inspired to make it better. Works for me.

Janet Sketchley said...

Okay, Susan, here's a mantra for you: "how do you eat an elephant: one bite at a time"

That's how I did the big revision draft for still-unpublished novel #1.

I also favour "I can do this, the Lord being my helper" and "it's better than cleaning toilets".

Books like James Scott Bell's Revision and Self Editing can help too.

Koala Bear Writer said...

Love those first draft pieces of advice, especially Murray Pura's.

Marcia's advice is also good... though when you are working on the sixth or seventh or eighth draft, you find out that you still have it memorized no matter how long you let it sit there...

so I think I'll be following Janet's advice. I'd also recommend Story Engineering by somebody smart whose name escapes me right now because it's past 10 pm... he had some great advice that would help any novel and which I intend to pull out when I do find a big chunk of time for that nth revision attempt. :)

Oh... and HURRAH!!! You actually wrote a whole novel!!! :)