Sunday, May 17, 2009
Just write the book
A new writer can worry so much about the technique of writing that they don't actually get much writing done.
Concerns such as: How should I begin my novel? How many words should a chapter be? Do I need to make charts beforehand? Should I outline? Are common questions not just to self but to other writers and tutors.
My main advice about this is if you worry too much about technique it might sap your creative energy.
When I first started off trying to write a novel around ten years ago I had similar questions, but realised one day, it was time to just get on with writing. I already had a plot in mind: a teenager who goes missing after chatting with someone on the Internet. My main character was a detective called, Declan McKeague. A large Irishman, who bungled things up, but was a lovable character.
Initially, I wrote a chapter or two and read them out at the writing group I attended at the local library. They went down quite well, so I wrote more chapters but run out of steam and put that project aside. I never finished the book but I completed 8 chapters of it.
What I had done though in the process was learn a lot about novel writing. How to maintain pace, how to create suspense, craft a scene, etc.
I wrote three trial run novels that way, and to be honest, when I look back on them now, I can see how much my writing has improved! What I'd done without realising it was to give myself a masterclass in novel writing and all for free!
Sure, I read books about the topic but I threw myself in the deep at the same time. That's why I believe that Nanowrimo , National Novel Writing month, is a great thing for new writers. They are forced to turn off their internal editor and get into the process of novel writing to create a draft of 50,000 words within the month of November. Of course, you could do this yourself during any given month, but taking part in the challenge with other writers can help to motivate and inspire you to get that draft down.
Reading books about novel writing and taking courses is a good thing: learning from people who have already achieved their ambition, but there is nothing like getting your toes wet and having a crack at it for yourself. Don't fear failure. Rejection happens to everyone, even the big names out there. Most authors were once in the same position and have probably got drawers full of dusty, flawed manuscripts before going on to get published.
As Nike says:
Just do it!