Are you a writing a book? Dreaming about it? Just finished your first draft or planning to write 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November? I want to offer up a bit of my journey, a few tips, some truths and encouragement to you. Much of this is writing advice I wish I had known when I started. Some of it is writing advice I ignored and wish I had not.
Watch My Writing Advice Video Here (As always, my video and blog content coordinate but they are not identical content. You will want to read and view!”
First, let’s start with celebration. I want you to celebrate every step of your journey. Deciding to write a book is a big thing. Celebrate that. Celebrate your first draft. Embrace it for what it is, you telling the story to yourself so that you can shape it into a story for readers. It will be a mess and that is okay. Writing is a craft. It will require practice, constant learning, and a lot of emotions. Be prepared for that but don’t look at your first draft as a failure. It is your teacher. It is the first step in your book’s journey. Celebrate.
When you finish celebrating your first draft your next question might be the same as mine. Now what? It is time to revise, self-edit and begin shaping it into something a reader will love.
BUT FIRST… I want you to put it away. That’s right. Put it away for at least two weeks. Don’t read it. Don’t edit it. Just don’t. I ignored this advice and it was awful. You need to distance yourself from the story. Trust me. If you don’t trust me, you will understand why you should have later. ( I won’t say I told you so, I will send a hug and tissues.)
If you are unsure what to do next, I recommend finding a few good critique partners to take a look at the first draft or your outline. You are not looking for someone to correct your punctuation and grammar you are looking for writers who will provide feedback on your story, plot, characters, and settings.
Outline. Outline. Outline. I recommend a great outline before you ever write your first draft. I recommend knowing everything you can about your characters and story before you start writing. You may be the writer who has to write the first draft and then dive into an outline. You are only going to find this out by trying different methods. It is never too late to outline.
Research, listen, know your genre, and learn from other writers. Try out new writing and outlining methods. If it works, keep it. If it doesn’t toss it ( the advice or the method, not your book) or tweak things to fit your needs. Don’t stay with a method that is not working for you. Try something else. As you evolve as a writer, you may want to try the things that didn’t work for you in the past.
Experiencing an emotion doesn’t make it true. You may feel HATE your book. You may feel love your book. There is a good chance your emotions will swing between the two and give you motion sickness. That is normal. But, feelings don’t always point to truth. The important thing is to remember that feelings shift. The truth is that you will have strengths and weakness in writing. Find out both. Embrace the good and improve the bad.
Don’t Judge your 1st draft by someone else’s published work. Do you know how many times the story was written, edited and revised before it hit the shelf? Do you know how many people had their hands on it, shaping it before it was published? If you think you are the only one who will shape your book or should shape your book, I encourage you to reach out to published authors and find out what goes into that book on the shelf.
Don’t give up. You have a dream. A passion. A desire. An idea. You and your story matter. No one can tell it like you. I want to see you make it come true.
Have a blessed and bookish day my writing friend!