This week I planned to talk about the process I went through writing my first novel, but I think I’ve covered that particular story—most notably last week during my overview of Camp NaNoWriMo—enough on this blog. Instead I’d like to offer the three most important pieces of advice I learned from writing The Duality Paradigm.
Finish It. You’ll hear this sentiment from a lot of advice columns and that’s because it’s true. A lot of people “aspire” to be writers and in some regards anyone who tries to write a novel can call themselves a writer. But until you actually finish something—a novel, a novella, a short story, a screenplay, whatever—you will only be aspiring. And let me tell you something, you can aspire to something your entire life without ever achieving it. If you want to write a novel, write a novel and finish it.
This is key to writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. The daily word count may be difficult to meet and it’s easy to become discouraged if your word count starts to fall behind. It’s important if you decide to try Camp NaNoWriMo next month that even if you miss a day or a couple of days, you must not give up! You might have to kill yourself and write 5000 words in a single day to make it up, but let me tell you, the feeling you get when you finish your novel is intoxicating and worth it.
Be Disciplined. I think the most important decision you can make if you want to take your writing to the next step (from “aspiring writer” to “writer”) is to be disciplined about it. Something I hear from aspiring writers all too often is the expression: I have to wait to be inspired. Once again, you can spend your entire life waiting for Mistress Muse to stroke you. Writing is like anything else—painting, music, building something, playing a sport, making a scientific breakthrough—if you don’t pursue it, you won’t ever catch it. At one point or another, every writer who ever wrote a book had to sit down and write the damn thing and so do you.
You don’t have to write thousands of words a day right out of the gate, but set yourself a goal. Decide that you’re going to write on X days and aim for X words. Just 100 words a day consistently is enough to get your momentum going. Along this same line of reasoning: no one was born knowing how to write the next great novel. If you want to write a good book, you have to learn how to write good. And the only way you’re going to improve your writing is to—you guessed it—write more!
Let Go. At some point, once you’ve made yourself write your novel and write the end you’ll move onto the revision and editing stages (I’m a big advocate for extensive self-editing. Learn good grammar practices and familiarize yourself with the basics of Chicago Style, but always get a second set of disciplined editor or proofreader eyes on your work! No matter how good you are at self-editing you will miss stuff, probably a lot of stuff. This is something I’ve learned the hard way). The revise-and-edit stage can go on forever. At some point you’re going to have to just release your work either into the wild or into your own archives and move on. If you only want to write 1 novel then fine, stop there. But if you’re serious about writing, storytelling, or making a living from your writing it is key that you keep writing.
I wanted to add to this that if you do self-publish your book it’s important to market but don’t get hung up on marketing to the exclusion of writing your next book. I see a lot of new writers—and don’t get me wrong, I’m a baby writer too—asking on forums like the Kboards what they should do to get their book to sell more copies and they only have one book published. Well, hate to break it to you, but in this market the best thing you can do is write your next book.
This advice really goes for any book whether it’s your first or your fifteenth.
What’s your number one piece of writing advice? Tell me in the comments.
Next week I’m going to talk about outling vs pantsing and how I approach writing a new book as our Countdown to Camp continues. Happy writing!