If you think I’m just like everyone else you know who has started writing a novel and never finished I’d like to tell you you’re wrong. At least, I hope you’re wrong. Unlike every other novel I’ve started, I plan to complete this one. I know I said that the last three times but let me tell you why this one is different.
I already have a completed book under my belt
If a full-time mom can complete a book in her spare time in less than a year then she can certainly finish another one now that her kid is in daycare part-time. Oddly enough I never write while he’s in daycare. My creative ramblings spill onto the page in the early mornings or, more often, late a night after the stubborn little bug has finally gone to sleep.
I have super-duper writing software
Now that I’ve gone through the hell of using the wrong software the first time around I smartened up and ditched the free software (and gawd-forsaken Word®) in favour of a paid program designed for professional writing. Apparently, this software will also prepare my manuscript for print and handles ebook production too. How well that actually works remains to be seen… ahem. I’m thinking positive.
I am following @AdviceToWriters on Twitter
This might seem like the most lame reason for my novel completion theory but let me explain. When I started the first three or four or however many novels I’ve began over the course of my life, Twitter didn’t even exist. There was no way I could receive a daily dose of inspiration from some of the world’s most famous writers. Their honest words of encouragement remind me that I’m really just one of them except I’m not famous or published. Otherwise, we are like a band of merry writing brothers.
I finally read Stephen King’s book On Writing
This is one of those books I swear every writer has said they’ve read. I’d heard about it many years ago but was intimidated by the success of Mr. King so I never made the move to read it. Finally, a couple of months ago, I requested it from the library, read most of it in a week and can now say that if you are a writer you have to read the damn thing. It’s part writing advice, part memoir which allows the reader to peek in and see all the small steps it took to produce one of the most popular writers of, I don’t know, all-time? Even if I’m only marginally as successful as Stephen King I’ll be happy.
I write (almost) every day
Heck, I’m writing right now! But maybe not while you’re reading this. I’ve discovered that when I write (almost) every day it starts to become a part of my existence and I freak out if haven’t done any writing like I had forgotten to brush my teeth. It only takes about two weeks to get into the daily habit and about two days of not writing to fall out of it.
And finally, the biggest and most important thing that has changed the way I look at writing forever
I finally understood what Hemingway meant when he said:
Write drunk, edit sober.
He probably meant that literally, but in order to avoid becoming an alcoholic I’ve incorporated the advice of many other writers that basically states:
The first draft should be a piece of sh*t. Write fast, write often and edit it when the whole thing is done.
You see, the writing trap that held me back for so many years was the idea that every word I wrote, every sentence I composed had to be elegant and flawless in the first round. This meant I laboured over ever paragraph as if it were an injured baby bird on the brink of survival. You can’t imagine how slow that was. Every time I sat down to write I would reread everything I had written from the beginning and edit as I went along. Sometimes I would be at it for so long I didn’t even compose anything new.
This was clearly not the path to novel completion. I must admit I’m still learning and retraining myself to type as quickly as possible without revising my work is painful. The current 20 pages of my seedling manuscript are relatively flawless and I’m now embarrassed to admit that.
I pledge to you that I will stop rereading what I have already written and will continue to practice writing a shitty first draft.
Now that I have proclaimed to the world that I am indeed writing a novel I had better damn well finish it or I’ll have a lot of awkward explaining to do.