I don’t want to be a teacher. But I love to lecture. I don’t know why, I just do. And today’s “lecture”-if you didn’t read the title of this guest post-is about what to do and what not to do when you’re writing. And, of course, I don’t follow my own advice even though I really should. I’m hoping you all will take from this and apply it to your own writing, and maybe even learn something. So, here goes.
This is a total given, obviously. But in reality there is truth to this. Writing everyday betters yourself as an author. You want to find the right place to do this, too. If you’re uncomfortable, chances are your desire to right will be limited to once in a while. Also, create a routine. When I was writing my first draft, Legend, I created a routine where I’d sit down for at least two hours (not all at once,) and just write. Word count was important, but I didn’t worry too much about it as long as I got those two hours in. Because why? Because writing EVERYDAY is important.
CARRY A JOURNAL
Here’s some more advice that I don’t follow, but is useful. I’ve tried doing this, but we live in day and age where we have constant access to technology, i.e. our phones. I have a notepad dedicated to bookish thoughts and rambles. Now, I say carry a journal because physically writing your thoughts down tend to be much more helpful. I don’t know why, but that’s the case. I do have a tiny little notebook that was intended for this purpose, and I hope that one day it will be put to good use, but that day isn’t anywhere near me just yet.
READ, READ, READ…..DID I MENTION READ?
Yeah, read. Just like my first two points, this is also important. Reading is what got me into writing. And reading also keeps my brain fresh. Reading other authors works and learning their styles actually helped form my own style and create my own ideas. I answered a QOTD on bookstagram about how I write scenes, and I admitted that I pulled from books and twisted and pulled and punched until another author’s scene became my own. Reading affects how we write, and if you want to write well, I suggest starting by picking up a book.
WRITE WHAT YOU WANT, NO WHAT ANYONE ELSE WANTS
Just recently I told a few members of my family that I’m writing a book, that I have written a book. My family is very…..conservative and typical. I wish typical wasn’t the word to use, but unfortunately what we want to be typical isn’t how it is just yet. Anyways, my family isn’t exactly supportive of my dreams and career decision. My dad is trying to act like he is; he made a comment about a book I started when I was like 12 about a magic mirror set during WWII. I never finished it, and, as I think of it, it seems like a good historical fiction novel to write-or at least take a quick look back at it. So, his comment was that I should stop writing my current WIP, Legend, and pick the WWII story up instead. I understand he’s at least trying, but I don’t think he understands that what I’m writing now is what speaks to me now. I put the history novel down almost a decade ago. Clearly there was a reason why.
So, the moral of this paragraph is that I’m not going to write what my father wants me to. I’m not going to write what anyone else wants me to. And if the day comes that my old man wants to take a look at Legend, I already know he’s going to dislike it. He’s a conservative man set in old ways, and I exploit men like him in my novel and bring important views into the light, views not a lot of white men, or men in general agree with. Write what YOU want, and don’t let anyone else’s opinion get in the way.
GET FEEDBACK FROM TRUSTED FRIENDS
About a month ago I picked out a few bookstagrammers and friends of mine as Beta Readers. This decision is a very important one. Don’t just randomly pick family members or close friends. Your introductory readers need to be people who’s opinion you value, and if they say something negatively-most likely for your own good and for the sake of the draft-you need to be able to take it like a strong person. Don’t melt under the pressure and critique. Part of being an author is living under the pressure and wearing the good and bad reviews like a cape. And if you happen to get published, the good and the bad won’t stop at your friends. It’ll be from the world. So, chose your friends wisely for the role of Beta because it is an important one.
REALIZE ONCE YOU’RE PUBLISHED THAT THE STORY IS NO LONGER YOURS
I think I’m struggling with this one the most. As of right now, Legend is very much all mine. No other eyes but my own have seen it, not even my boyfriend’s. (He’s been trying to sneak a peek haha!) This point is especially true if you’re writing a series. Once that first book is out, your readers are the ones shadow guiding you through the writing process. Yes, you have a say in what you write, but this is the introduction anymore. You have an audience to please. And as I say that, do remember that you have yourself to please, too (you, ultimately, come first.) As long as your remember any published works are no longer yours, becoming an excellent author will be easier done than said.
KEEP RESEARCH ORGANIZED AND ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE
Back to the journal. That could be a place where you keep your research, especially if the journal is always on your person. But like I said in the journal paragraph, we live in a technological world. All my research and notes is on an app called Padlet. Everything is color coded, columned and sectioned off. It’s easy to read and quick to navigate. That’s how it should be.
FORGET ABOUT WORD COUNT
Word count is nothing to freak out over. If you’re doing a program such as NaNoWriMo, then yes, ignore this piece of advice. But unless that isn’t the case, please heed what I say. Quantity has no hold over quality. I spent a month going on two battling both Qs, and while I did finish my first draft, I’m almost positive the quality of my first take would be a whole lot better if a part of me wasn’t concerned with keeping track of how many words I got in a day. So, don’t stress over the numbers.
Also, don’t worry about anyone else’s word counts either. They are a completely different person, and should have no affect on you once so ever. Alright?
STAY AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
At least during your allotted writing time. I made this mistake one too many times. I have a highlight on my bookstagram profile following me as I wrote, from day one to finish. And while that is cool, it prevented me from writing. It chipped time of me getting words in. It took away from me doing what I love to do. Social media can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. And in my case it’s riding the line. If I hadn’t finished my first draft, I’d say it was pretty bad. So, try to stray from using your phone while writing.
DON’T READ BOOKS ABOUT WRITING AND EXPECT A BIG CHANGE
This makes me laugh so much when I see all those people online purchasing writing books, and thinking that it’ll change how they write, that it’ll make them better. And maybe that is so, but the chances of that are slim to none. Those books are directed to the author. That’s how the author writes, that’s how the author recommends you to write. But we are all different. Our styles are different, our voices are different. How can a writing book make us better when we’re already better on our own? I fell into this loop over the summer. Want to know how it went? I didn’t get past the third chapter. I realized I was wasting my time trying to be someone else and not who I am. My tone, my voice, my writing is perfect the way it is. And I can only better it by writing and reading everyday (reading actual books that aren’t about writing. Too much writing can be a turn off for the mind, fyi!)
IT WON’T BE PERFECT THE FIRST TIME ‘ROUND
I’m sorry, but you’re a fool if you think your first draft is ready to be completed as is. Unless you’re someone like V.E. Schwab who edits extensively as she goes then maybe so. And props to you for being part of the ~1% who can do that. Schwab’s first draft is like a third draft. Mine….well, mine is a first draft. A crappy, no good first draft in need of LOTS of help. Don’t stress that is isn’t perfect.
Also, don’t make everything in your story fit to your plot. After all, this is only a first draft. Chances are you’ll change at least half of it. So, forcing scenes to play into the plot isn’t the best way to do so. Everything will come together as you go through edits and rewrite that second, third, fourth draft. No force, just time and effort, and everything will fall into place.
Another thing is this: don’t tell us everything about your character when first meeting them. You want to drop a few details and then drop a few more later on, and later on, and later on. Those will add up and the reader will learn who this character is naturally. And eventually your character will tie into the plot and the little details you’ve dropped every so often will make sense. Dropping it at one time will cause forgetfulness (too much all at once,) and it won’t help your plot either.
PEOPLE PLEASING IS NOT WORTH THE THE STRUGGLE
You are the only person there is to please. Unless you’re already published and working on a series. But if not, you’re the only one who’s opinion should matter. It’s your story, isn’t it?
STOP CHANGING YOUR MIND
I had this problem for SIX years! Six years I changed, and, changed, and changed Legend, and where did it get me? No where. I finally said to myself, “Sam, stop it! You know how you want this book to go. So why are you doing this to yourself?” It’s fear that makes you continuously change your mind. Which is why your change your story. So, tell yourself to quit it, and get a move on. Your book is waiting on you, and wants to be written.
and most importantly….
WRITING IS HARD
You can’t underestimate writing. It’s a tricky thing. It’s a difficult thing. Writing trips you when you least expect you. I’ve met mainly people who think it’s easy, that anyone can do it. Sure, anyone can write, but how many people can throw together made up characters into a made up world with a plot and execute it properly? Not everyone. So, don’t forget that writing isn’t easy and you’re not alone if you’re struggling. Trust me, we’re all struggling, even those best sellers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling.
If you have anymore questions about writing, I do have a blog, an email, my DMs on bookstagram are always open. I like to think I’m a friendly person, just ask Jess lol! Thanks for checking out my guest post about writing. I sincerely hope you were able to take away from this post, and if so, please do let me know! I would love to hear back from any and all of you!
Sam, aka literarykhaleesi
Sam as been a great friend in this past year, since I started my bookstagram adventure, and I’m happy and honored to call her my best friend from Instagram. She’s an amazing person, a great writer, hardworking young woman, and I hope you guys go check out her blog and Instagram account, she has wonderful and fun reviews.
Sam is a 21 year old bibliophile that dreams of running her own bookshop one day, born in Arizona and stuck in Ohio. Author of WIP “Legend”. Owner of a blog called “Literary Khaleesi”.
Social Media Links – Blog | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter | Contact her by email
If, like Sam, you would like to join me as a guest on my blog, check out the Guests Post page to know more and contact me so we can start planing your visit.