Noveling 101 – You’ve Got This, Keep Writing

Inspiration can be seen everywhere
Inspirational Wind Turbine

So here’s the thing. Writing is really hard. Sometimes I forget the struggles I went through on my writing journey. It’s easy to say, “Just write the damn book” after you’ve collected a stockpile of novel drafts, revisions, and a horde of short stories. Writing is hard for everyone, even kids at school who have to do essays to pass their class. That’s why I’m glad that there are sites that provide essay help, particularly when kids end up struggling. Writing should be fun, it shouldn’t be a hardship.

But I understand new writers, you have doubts. Well I’m here to answer all of them.

Everyone has doubts. Take me for instance. I’ve been scribbling off and on my whole life. My first attempts at writing books were all nonfiction ideas, most of them spiritual or scientific in nature, and sometimes a combination of the two, mixed with a dash of Philosophy.

I took a long, hard look back to my first novel writing attempt. If you have any doubt about your ability as an author, believe me, I’ve had it too, and I still have most of them. But writing isn’t one process. There’s no one solution, no matter how much I want there to be (so I can write a book about the secret). Everyone has a different style, a different approach, and every writing process out there has been met with both success and failure. As you are writing your novel, you will have days when you question why you ever bothered starting. You will have doubts. Just bookmark this page, and any time that happens, come back and remind yourself that you are not along, and that you CAN and SHOULD do this. Write the book. Don’t worry, you got this, and I got your back. You can email me anytime.

I’m Not Good At Writing

Here’s the secret: neither is anyone else! Those smug bands of writers that think they posses some magical skill, ignore them. There’s an audience out there for every voice, and a voice for every audience. If you need a reminder of that, then just look around Wattpad for a little while, read some garbage, and then look at the glowing reviews.

I’ve met people who absolutely hate Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling. Haven’t met any James Patterson haters yet, but I’m sure they are out there. Why? They’re awesome bestselling authors, right? Simply put, even bestselling authors have critics. The real difference between them and you? They have enough of an audience that they get flooded with hate mail. Their feeds on social, I’m sure, include a daily dash of criticism. People own forums will openly rant about how much they suck as writers, and deserve no recognition at all. Yes, even the big names, suck at writing, if you ask the snooty grammar snobs and literary wizards.

Maybe you are just finding your voice now, or perhaps you don’t even know where to start looking yet. We’ve all been there. I wonder if I’ve found mine on a weekly basis. The more I write, the more my style changes. When I started, I wanted words on a page, and a good story. Now I find myself fiddling with tone and tempo, and various other stylistic effects. I don’t do this because I feel I have to, the people who like my writing hardly care, as long as they’re entertained, but I pick at my own words now much more than I used to, and I still think that they are crap sometimes.

The secret to better writing, is more writing. If there’s a specific area you want to improve, read a couple blog posts on the topic, and experiment with it as you move your novel forward. There’s no rule against learning, and you can gain insight from reading other authors, but even with all of that, keep writing. When you finish that first novel, and turn back to page one for the first editing pass, you WILL see how much you have grown as a writer, immediately. You could get thesis writing assistance in order to improve how you structure your sentences as well as how you word things, this will be useful as when you start writing for yourself as people may credit you for the better sentence structure you’ve developed.

I’ll Never Get Published

My comment on this is generally, who the hell cares? Did you start writing because you like writing, or is your novel some kind of ploy to make money? If it’s the latter, then stick to non-fiction, and if nobody wants to publish you, then self publish. A block of ISBNs and a great cover design could be considered an investment. Or start your own publishing house and promote other people’s work.

Writing isn’t about getting published, and there are publishers out there who aren’t going to do much for you anyway, aside from the initial advance. Despite my fixation with finishing a first draft quickly, a finished, polished manuscript isn’t a race. Yes, finish the first draft as fast as you can, but then spend some time doing pass after pass of revision. Ask others what they think. A year from now, you might decide that you don’t even want to publish your book, and you can start on another any time between first draft and final product. Especially if you are writing fiction, then writing should be the goal, not publishing. As you get feedback and push your little stories out into the world, and build an audience, publication will come on it’s own. You’ll figure that part out, trust me. But for now, just focus on your stories.

Note, it’s okay to dream about signing books at packed venues, and laughing with your friends about how you made it on the NYT bestseller list, or schmoozing with other famous authors and people. It’s natural. If you are a storyteller, then you are going to have an imagination, and you definitely should think these positive thoughts about your book. But don’t put a deadline on it, unless it helps you write more. I read stories on the forums all the time about writers who finally “made it” after years of trying, sometimes much longer than a decade. They are the ones who keep telling stories, love writing, and never ever quit.

My friend says…

Forget your friend. Kindly thank them for their opinion and move the conversation back to normal friend stuff. Constructive criticism should be welcome, as you can learn from it, but don’t listen to people who just want to tear you down and convince you to toss in the towel. You’re writing because you want to, and there shouldn’t be anything that anyone can say to make you break off that love.

Nobody Wants to Read My Stories

Sure they do. Are you putting your stories out there? During the revision process, you should be encouraging yourself to put stories out. Submit shorter works to magazines. Post flash and poetry on social media. Build an audience. That way when you do get that nice juicy advance check, you will have an army of readers already thirsty for your book. You can also use critiques and criticisms about your shorter works to bolster your book’s writing. Join writing groups. Find writing friends. Even if you don’t want to push anything out publicly, get someone to read your work, and find people who enjoy your stories. Doesn’t have to be a big group, but every writer should collect friends who like their work and enjoy reading it. The Internet makes finding such friends super easy.

I Just Don’t Feel Like It

Then write something else. Plot or outline the next chapter of your novel. Spend some time brainstorming. Every word counts, even if you are just outlining the future plot. If that’s still a problem, then free write for a while. Use that time to be introspective, and get your thoughts down on paper about where you feel you are as a writer, and where you want to be. Copy inspirational quotes down in your notebook. Write your own quotes. Tweet to encourage others to overcome the slump that you are in, instead of dwelling in it. Sometimes we have the perfect advice to solve our own problems, but we don’t realize it until we use it to help others. Freewriting is great because it unlocks these little tidbits of information, it lets you use subconscious areas of your brain to handle the heavy lifting, and most of all, any writing encourages more writing. When I’m stuck, really stuck, I’ll sit quietly with my notebook and scribble for several pages about nothing. This helps to align me once again with the writing process, and even if I don’t crank out 2000 words, I can usually add a couple of paragraphs to my work in progress.

What are your other worries?

If your particular worry isn’t listed above, drop it in a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you overcome it. If you have inspirational ideas for anyone who might be reading this as a last ditch attempt to find inspiration, share them. After all, we should all be here to help each other. Competition in the writing world is pointless. So share your best ideas, ask your questions, and lets get you back on track to finishing that novel of yours.


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Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.

4 thoughts

    1. You’re so welcome. It’s comments like yours that motivate me to put stuff like this out there. I’m glad I could help 🙂

    1. Indeed. Steven Pressfield talks a lot about this kind of thing. He calls it resistance. While he and I differ on a number of things, the end result is the same. Mental attitude to overcome adversity of any kind.

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