Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Advice from the Pros

Have you ever noticed that people are always willing to tell you how to do something? This is especially true for writers. Everyone has an opinion. Show don’t tell. Write what you know. I am sure you have all heard it before.

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon, many people are thinking of attempting to write a lot of words in a very short amount of time – 50,000 words in 30 days. Many of these people have never actually tried to write a book, and these are the folks that NaNoWriMo was made for! It is the single best way I have found to sit down, shut up and get the story written. I let my inner critic have the month off and just go for it.

So all of this advice should be saved for AFTER November. Don’t worry about it for now. There will be plenty of time to take or leave this advice after the frenzy is over and the dust has settled.

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Stephen King has written a ton of words over his lifetime. He wrote a book about the craft of writing, On Writing, that has some down to earth advice for those of us crazy enough to pursue the perfect scene. If you are looking for words of wisdom from one of the most prolific writers of our time, read it, repeatedly.

Some bits of advice that I gleaned from him:

You can’t please all of the readers all the time. If you do your job right as a writer, and have a little luck on your side, there will be people who love your stories. There will also be haters. Maybe they don’t like to read in your genre. Maybe they are offended by something your main character said. Maybe they are closet writers who think they can do better. Read the negative reviews, but do not dwell on them. Learn from them if they offer something and then go back to writing your next story.

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Writing isn’t about making money. If you don’t love what you are doing, don’t do it. Most writers do not get rich writing. The Stephen Kings, John Grishams, Danielle Steeles and JK Rowlings’ are few and far between. Writing may never pay the mortgage, but if it fuels you, you should keep doing it.

Read a lot. Write a lot. This one is obvious, but it is actually easy to ignore. When I am writing, I tend to not read a lot of fiction. My brain can’t juggle too many stories at a time. But when I am not writing, I read voraciously. I would love to find a middle road here so that I am always reading AND always writing simultaneously. I think that would help my writing.

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Avoid distraction. Another obvious one, but a difficult one to follow. There are so many ways we get distracted these days. Social media is a huge time suck. I am an admitted Facebook-aholic, and when I am writing, I have to force myself to not even sign in. TV, surfing the web, chores, life, all sorts of things creep in and distract you from writing. On days when the words are coming slow, I find myself distracted by dust motes and things-I-really-should-be-doing-right-at-this-very-moment like cleaning out the lint trap and picking cat hair off the couch.

Ignore the would-be censors. Some people like to tell you what you can and cannot write. They like to tell you what is inappropriate for whatever age group you are writing for. Ignore them and write your story. If it is inappropriate subject matter or language for kids, you will know it when you revise. At that point, you have written a book for teens or adults. Market it accordingly, but don’t not write it.

Now go read Stephen King’s book! Learn from it. He knows what he is talking about. 🙂

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1 Comment

  1. charliebritten

    I did NanoWriMo last year. I got my 50,000 words done in November 2015, but the book was nowhere near finished. I eventually reached the end in mid-February and am now editing it, slowly, so I won’t be attempting NanoWriMo this November. Later I received advice to effect that editors don’t consider novels less than 80,000, which was my final total.

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