The best writing advice I ever received came near-simultaneously from two different sources.
I was struggling through my first full-length work, finding it a very different and untameable animal from short fiction. Writing the book was like walking against a wind machine where life, other story ideas, and lack of polished expertise threw themselves against my every effort.
I bemoaned this fact to friend and colleague Susan McBride. Her answer was simple. “Just do it,” she said. “Write straight through, stopping only long enough to jot notes on vital flashes of inspiration.”
Sure it made sense, but it was too darn simplistic. And easy for her to say, I thought. She had a book series with Harper-Collins. But sometimes, the simplest of answers is the best.
Still feeling sorry for myself, I happened to pick up a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. His advice? “Just do it.”
That’s when the truth hit. For those of us who must write, the discipline to do so lies within that very drive. The manuscript that had sat in messy bits for fifteen months became a finished work within three, and the next novel was written in four.
– Lisa Logan
Found at http://nienkehinton.blogspot.com/2007/05/best-writing-advice-ever_25.html
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
– G.K. Chesterton
I know it has been almost a month since my last post, and for that I apologize. My spontaneous haitus was not supposed to last this long, but ah me, such is the life of a student, right? My programming assignments have been long, a little tedius, and nothing short of infuriating. I haven’t had a chance to add to the WIP since my last post, either, which is also a little frustrating.
So, things to look forward to once I really return: my review of Hood by Stephen Lawhead and possibly Paperback Writer by Stephen A Bly, more notes from my research journals; updates on the WIP (as I get to work on it); and, of course, more tips, hints, tricks, and information about writing, editing, marketing, and publishing.
If it is written and read with serious attention, a novel, like a myth or any great work of art, can become an initiation that helps us to make a painful rite of passage from one phase of life, one state of mind, to another. A novel, like a myth, teaches us to see the world differently; it shows us how to look into our own hearts and to see our world from a perspective that goes beyond our own self-interest. If professional religious leaders cannot instruct us in mythical lore, our artists and creative writers can perhaps step into this priestly role and bring fresh insight into our lost and damaged world.
– A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong
Do not embellish so much in the pursuit of drama that you lose sight of the truth. Beware telling only one side of the story. It’s unfair to your audience, leaving them to think and act on false impressions.
– Jennifer Jackson (arcaedia at LiveJournal)
My New Year’s resolution is to focus on the book and forget all the crap that surrounds the writing business. To lose myself in a story, and not give a damn if it makes any lists, has a good sell-through, gets glowing reviews on Amazon, pleases my editors, hell, even pleases my readers. I want to love what I’m writing so much that none of the rest of it matters, and if I don’t, I won’t write it. Life’s too short to abuse the muse.
– Anne Stuart
You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.
– Neil Gaiman
And for the record, I’ve given up on reading Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. Believe me, I absolutely hate to drop a book, especially when the idea is so clever. She uses this Victorian fiction to theorize that Jack the Ripper was actually the boyfriend of the young woman who had to be staked in the original Dracula; that the Ripper didn’t just kill prostitutes, but vamipiric prostitutes. Did I just make vampiric up? Possibly, but I think you get the idea, right? It’s new, and fresh, and interesting. But Newman drops so many names that my head is spinning and I can’t keep up with who is who and why I care about them, among other things, and overall, I’m disappointed and can’t struggle my way through. If any of you pick up the book, let me know what you think about it, because I just couldn’t do it.
Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.
– Stephen King
And so I conclude my finals week with ever-happy thoughts about my original work-in-progress, The Winslow Charade. It’s funny, seeing that title, considering I just use it because it’s there, and really has nothing to do with the story anymore. In any case, I had a breakthrough the other night while I was studying. I’ve been worried about the pacing of the book. It feels too slow, especially now that I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo. So, at 2 am in the morning, I decided that I was going to shift the beginning of the story forward approximately six months. Now everything is much more condensed, and the story will have to move faster because the characters have less time to make decisions–which means more conflict, which is always, but ALWAYS, good.
I wonder whether other writers ever have mini-breakthroughs like mine? And does the world ever look a little friendlier after, like how my world does?
The key idea to remember is that fixing a broken novel is liked organizing an overstuffed closet: things get messier before they get better. You have to pull everything out before you can get it straightened up, which looks (and feels) like a disaster when you’re in the middle of the operation. Deal with that, the psychological fact that you’re eviscerating first, fixing later, and you’ll go a long way toward meaningful editing, as opposed to rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg.
– Scott Westerfeld is the author of Uglies, Pretties, and many other novels
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. – Scott Adams
Is it sad that I find literary posters amusing? Click [here] to see Bob the Angry Flower’s take on those dreaded apostrophe rules.
In other news, I printed my NaNoWriMo the other day at the computer lab that I work at (I print everything there because I practically have free printing, my quota is so large), and shock and awe! Somehow, I wrote 177 double-spaced pages in one month. It took me three years to write the prequel. Le sigh.
Oh, and I heard somewhere, I can’t remember where but I have this inkling it was at work, that a mother actually dissuaded her child from getting a book at Toys R’ Us because the toy was cheaper than the book. The bibliohpile in me cries aloud at this. The girl telling the story understood me, and she most emphatically said that a person should never dissuade a child from reading. I ask, why stop at children? I wish people in general would read more often. Perhaps if the people around me were more well-read (such as my neighbor, who likes to say everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, that he doesn’t think is cool is “stupid”), then I’d stop worrying about whether my vocabulary is dying or not. Sometimes I worry being a computer engineer has completely drained my creative writing mind.
Anyway, I’m up this late writing because I’ve been studying for my electrical engineering final all day. Which means around midnight, I snapped, and had a solo dance party in my room to work off all my nervous energy. Which means I got my blood pressure up, and even after a quick yoga cool-down, I’m too revved up to go to sleep.
Yet, it seems that writing this last sentence triggered the Sand Man, because my second wind just blew away and I’m exhausted. Good night, you writers, and may the muse be with you.