Practical Tips for Writers

Stef sent me this link, knowing that I’m in the last stages of the intermediate phase of my novel (no, that really doesn’t make sense to me either). It’s an interesting read. Despite the fact it’s mostly nonfiction writers giving advice to another nonfiction writer, much of it will be useful no matter what’s being written.
I love the fact that the advice is often contradictory. Read everything. Read nothing but what will help your book. Write everyday. Don’t write everyday, sometimes you need a break.
This just confirms something I’ve actually already learned: There is no One True Way. I’ve heard that advice at WisCon panels and seen it played out in posts like the one linked above. What works for one author won’t work for the next. What works for one book might not work for the next! There are too many variables in play, not the least of which is the author.
I don’t write everyday. I’m at work most days of the week and often have other obligations in the evenings. But most weekends I’ll spend my mornings writing and my afternoons researching or editing what I wrote the day before. Many times I’ll forge ahead and get a number of pages written, and then spend a few precious after work hours going over them, getting them beaten into true before the next weekend and the next writing sessions.
If I’d been asked to write the three things I’ve learned, they would go something like this:
  1. There is no One True Way to write a book. Allow the current project to find its own level. But once that happens, exploit that knowledge for all its worth. With the next project you may have to search for a new approach.
    1. Cherish whatever approach you’ve found, because if life gets in the way and disrupts the approach, the routine you’ve established, it can be a lovely slice of hell trying to re-establish or find that new approach for the current project
  2. It’s easier to read than to write. It’s easier to plan or worldbuild than to write. It’s easier to surf the internet than to write. Hell, it’s easier to do damn near anything other than writing. But reading a novel written by someone else is nowhere near as fulfilling as writing your own. At some point, you’ll have to stop researching (or “researching”), stop planning, stop surfing, put the butt in chair, and put those sentences down.
  3. Don’t track the hours you spend creating the novel. Really. Just don’t. It leads to foolish things like figuring out you hourly earnings, and then where will you be?
In a different post I’ll discuss the tech I use in my writing, but I found the references to Scrivener and other tech tools interesting. Another case of “what works for one…”

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