I’ve worked on my novel for more than six years. On multiple occasions, I did full stops with writing. Luckily, I didn’t give up and I’ve grown as a person and as a writer. Nearing the end of my revisions, I decided to make a list of some of the most important things I’ve learned as a writer.
Writing Is More Work Than You Expect
Sometimes, it takes serious commitment just to get down the rough draft. After accomplishing that, you’re “perfecting” your story. There’s cutting out excess words or scenes, filling plot holes, and rewriting. A lot of rewriting.
Writing is an art and it doesn’t adhere to any timeline. Remember, never rush perfection.
Plotting Is Better Than Pantsing
For a long time, I believed I was a Pantser, someone who flies (or writes) by the seat of their pants. They go where the wind (or story) takes them. Some writers can pants and finish a novel in as little as a month. Others, like myself, take longer.
My advice is to plot, even if only a little bit. There doesn’t have to be a strict or clear outline, but any outline will help on days where inspiration or ideas aren’t there. Whether it’s fiction or a memoir, it’s always good to have an idea of where you’re going.
Write Every Idea Down
Seriously. Nothing is too small. And, no, it won’t be remembered in the morning. It may never used, but it’ll always be available to add to another story or later on in a WIP. There’s nothing worse than having a brilliant idea strike and forgetting it.
Write With The Door Closed (And Internet Off)
This I learned after reading Stephen King’s On Writing. I mentioned that writing takes a lot of time. With it comes endless interruptions. During a writing session, I kept track of how long I can write before I was interrupted by my husband, son, or my phone. Five minutes. If I was lucky, ten minutes. And I’m a stay at home mom.
There are many writers who work a part time or full time job, then come home to take care of their family, bills, appointments, and countless other things. Finding time to write is making time to write. It means holding off on binge-watching the new season of a show on Netflix, setting the phone to silent, and telling your loved ones your busy. Close the door and lock it for whatever time squeezed out of a busy day. Even five minutes a day can make a finished manuscript.
There Will Be Doubters
And they will make you doubt yourself. I’ve been told I’m wasting my time, that I need a real job, and that I have too much time on my hands to be able to write a novel. You may have heard the same or worse. Pay them no mind. Seriously. None. At. All.
You’re creating something people only dream of. Many start, but never finish. No matter what anyone says, you’re novel will be important. It doesn’t have to be a best seller or make millions. It will mean something to at least two people: you and the reader.
Writing is a never ending learning experience. These are a few of the many I’ve discovered in the years working on my novel. While I’ve had to utilize every minute and opportunity that presented itself to make it happen, it’s worth it. I’m farther than when I started and closer to the finish line. My novel will soon be ready to share with the world and it’s because I didn’t give up on my goals. Do what you can to make sure you don’t also.
Think back on your writing process and efforts. What have you learned during it? Let me know in the comments!