1. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    What I learned writing my novel.

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by nippy818, Dec 7, 2015.

    Some of you might know, from following my progress journal, that worked on my first novel for a year and a half and now it is at the editor I learned many things, looking back at classic writers, Twain, Thompson, London, Frost.
    -First and the most important lesson I learned, it started as a hobby but it is no longer a game. I looked for inspiration to hit me anything to get my muse going, but I learned I had to force myself to write. I have said it before and I'll preach it again, I force 2000 words a day, no excuses. I learned if i was going to take it serious, it had to be treated like a job. There were nights I went through my notes kicking and screaming, not wanting to write, not wanting to deal with the scene I was on. I brought my laptop and all 12 of my notebooks on vacation, and when everyone went to bed I wrote. Some nights I just barely hit 2000 words and was oh so happy after the hours at the keyboard, other nights I hit it out of the ballpark and wrote 4 to 5 thousand words (and no, my words never rolled over)

    -My second lesson, sometimes you have to look at other pieces. My 2k words a night were not always aimed at my main novel, sometimes I worked on outlines, poetry, other novels in the same series. I learned that writers block was an excuse for procrastination, and above all, even if it wasn't my main piece, I was still honing my skills and abilities.

    -My inner editor and critic is a liar. I don't mean everything I wrote was gold, but I had to learn to silence the negativity and write every idea down. I tried to imagine how it would work out, but unless it was typed or written on paper, I never knew for sure if it was good or bad. Everything I was on the fence about, I cut and pasted into another document and waited on it as I wrote the scene over and over in different ways, till it was time to let my inner critic out, and let him cut and slash everything and anything.

    -Notebooks, God I love them. From .79 cent legal pads to moleskin and water proof, i keep them everywhere. Every coat I have, there is one hidden in a pocket, my toolbox at work, my car (i keep a tape recorder.), my bedroom and scattered through the house. (I do in fact have a water proof notebook and an astronaut pen so i can write in the shower.) I write every idea, every piece of the puzzle, whether its relevant or not. Every Friday night, i gather everything up, and file it in my three ring binder/outline. I make my living as a mechanic but at my heart I am a writer first and foremost.

    -Don't beat yourself up. In the beginning I took criticisms to heart, thought that everything i wrote was trash. A lot of it was, but as I learned what worked and didn't I shaped my story, and my skill.

    -Read... Always keep reading. I wrote 2k a night and I read a chapter a day. Hunter S. Thompson used to type famous pieces of work to get a feel of what the author was doing, thinking, feeling, so I read. Top sellers, free e books, sci fi fantasy everything but YA (Personal preference, I have a hard time with teenagers that save the world.) Even romance. What better way to learn than to see how published authors do it.

    I am not saying this is the only correct way to view things, but these are the lessons I learned in the last 18 months or so. If you have anything too add, I would be happy to see what everyone else has learned.
     
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  2. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Nice post, @nippy818 .
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
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  3. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very cool stuff.

    Just a couple things from me...

    I thought I had a draft that was ready to be read, but it wasn't, not by a long shot. Next time, I won't rush into this phase. (and BTW, it was the fifth draft)

    If I get an idea and the next day I can remember it without writing it down, it's worth considering... but not always worth putting into the story. Perhaps for the next story?
     
  4. ShannonH
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    ShannonH Senior Member Supporter

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    It's good advice. Not sure I can follow it to the letter but I'll be keeping it in my mind. Thank you.
     
  5. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    First of all, thanks for sharing! :) especially the part about 'notebooks ' everywhere. I always fall into the trap of searching for a napkin, an old train ticket, and end up asking the random passerby for a pen because I tend to think that This time I will be too busy to think of my story surely! ;)

    Not sure about your last point though. Since starting seriously on my story I have not taken a book to hand. And I do think that is by far the longest stretch in my life I have done that. Up till starting in I usually read a book a day. Now.. even on holiday for a week I didn't read a single line. The start of my story lies now one-and-a-half-months behind me in time guys!
    I think I am afraid that my voice will get influenced by all these other styles. I am new to writing, just getting confidence in my writing style and I don't want to take the chance that what comes out of my brain is another's paraphrasing style. Could be that I am afraid of shadows and ghosts ;) but that is what I fear.
     
  6. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    Not a deal on paper but a little bit of interest, enough that i will continue to pursue the dream of getting published.
     
  7. dreamersky1212
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    dreamersky1212 Active Member

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    I would like to add to it if I may....

    • Understand that you get out of it what you put into it. If you don't have the fortitude to push through even when you hate every word, even when you think that the whole thing is pointless and you will never be published, then it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    • Listen to criticism, and then pause to think. It is our gut reaction to reject any form of criticism. These words are a very vulnerable part of us and we instinctively protect them. But if you can't respect criticism for what it is, then you will never grow. Not all (constructive) criticism should be followed. But a least take the time to think about it before you decide what to do with it.
     
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  8. Alstroemeria
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    Alstroemeria Member

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    Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks! I adore notebooks. I'm quite a visual person, to the extent of occasional "attacks" of synaesthesia, so I tend to draw and create mixed-media collages in my notebooks to inspire my work. In a way, the "art" is my work in itself, but it's primarily complex blueprints leading the way towards written work.
     
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  9. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    The inner critic is especially caustic at times, true. I've been having the feeling that all my writing is trash
    for about three years now. Can not for the life of me come up with something the readers would like and ejoy.
    Or if so, I can't seem to bring it to completion. Though, I'd really love to see some of my work completed.
    Ideas are cheap but the way you tackle them has to be original.
     
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  10. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Great points to absorb. Thanks for sharing. (everyone)
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I didn't force myself to write my novel, I wrote because I wanted to. I really really wanted to. I absolutely HATED it if something happened and it interrupted my writing time. However, I didn't care how many words I wrote either. I just wrote till my time was up, or the chapter was finished, or whatever.

    We all work different ways. I would grow to hate writing if I forced myself to write x number of words per day.

    However, since I finished my first draft and got into the editing phase, I don't write every day at all. In fact, I only work on it intermittently. This is partly due to personal circumstances, which have changed. But also because ideas need time to cook. I'm also working on my second novel, which is a sequel to the first, but set in an entirely different location which requires constant research. So researching, editing, planning ...that's what I'm doing at the moment. I've got several chapters of my new novel 'written,' but again, just first draft. I'm more focused now on formatting my first novel for publication on Kindle.

    Although many authors do write a certain number of words every day, and it works for them, I think the problem with forced writing is that some people may never achieve the kind of distance from it that they need, in order to do a good editing job. And editing is at least half of the job.
     
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  12. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    @jannert I think all that stuff you mentioned does qualify as writing. Rewriting, editing, research, 'baking' the idea during incubation periods.

    Cheers, mate! :)
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I totally agree. But it doesn't mean you have to produce a certain number of words per day. In fact, when you're editing, doing research or just thinking, you might not produce any words at all that day. However, you are still 'writing.' I think if a writer focuses only on 'production' of words, they'll get lots of words, but might miss out on the stuff that pulls it all together.
     
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  14. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Yes that's what I meant. :)
     
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  15. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Meant to quote you the first time. Again, great post. :)
     
  16. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    This is how I feel. I write every day but don't have a set number of words, I think that would frustrate me. Some days I'll just edit one paragraph and that's fine, other days I'll write 5,000 words. Having the story, or stories, on my mind every single day is what is important to me. Some of my "best" days consist of little writing and a lot of brainstorming or perhaps reorganizing scenes, ideas, actions and, while no new words are being written or the word count is not going up, the work is still being improved (or at least that's the plan).

    I also put certain stories aside for a time but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about them, just not opening the document and working on it. I usually have 4-5 projects going on all the time so it's easy and enjoyable to bounce around sometimes. It's nice when those projects are in different phases too. Sometimes I want to outline, sometimes I want to write prose, sometimes I want to edit.
     
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  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You sound very enthusiastic. That's great. Writing is a lot of fun, isn't it?
     
  18. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    It is! I'm not sure what I would do otherwise. I need to write and have been my whole life. After completing several full length screenplays, I jumped into my first novel this year and finished (the first draft) in 8 months :)
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    So what do you think? Is novel writing different from screenplay writing, in terms of satisfaction? Which did you enjoy most?
     
  20. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    I'm not sure if one is more satisfying than the other. Although, the concept of the written words being the final product as opposed to a movie where 500+ people are involved and the story getting changed every step of the way is certainly a large pro. Besides the outlining, the processes are also very different. There is so much more freedom in prose than screenwriting which is very cut and dry in my opinion. You have action and dialogue and that's it. You cannot enter a character's thoughts like you can in a novel.

    I think it may have worked as an advantage starting with screenwriting as it is just the bare bones of a story, action and dialogue. It allowed me to become more acquainted with developing complex stories in a more simple form. I would admit that this novel is the most satisfied I've ever been with my writing but I think that has more to do with my constant developing and growing as a writer over time and this novel just happens to be the last major project I've worked on. I still love the style of screenwriting and definitely plan on writing more. It's storytelling that I'm in love with and think it's awesome how many different mediums I could tackle if I wish to. Video games, comics, etc.
     
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  21. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    If there was one thing I always love seeing repeated is Notebooks.

    Notebooks, and notebooks... Notebooks.
     
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  22. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    ... and post-it's. They are everywhere :D
     
  23. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    I have dozens of notebooks hahaha
     
  24. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Impressive! I thought I was the only one who took the laptop along on vacations and business trips so I didn't lose writing time! Good job!

    Good on silencing the inner critic while writing. It's best to keep visualizing how great the story is, how everyone will love it, while getting it down. Keep it in its box until the WIP is done. Then let it out to tear your work up during the editing phase. Plenty of time to get discouraged then, the writing is over.
     
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  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    OMG. I wrote the first draft of my novel between 1996 and 2001. And DAMN. I wanted a laptop to take on vacation SO bad, but couldn't afford one then. I HATED being away from my writing, and didn't look forward to my holidays at all. Now that I'm retired and home most of the time and don't really go on holiday any more (my choice), my husband and I have a MacBook Air in addition to our two desktop Macs. It sits there and hardly ever gets used. Go figure....
     
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