The most common questions I get from fans (other than “when is Pretties coming out?”) are those about writing. Where do you get ideas? How do I get started? How do I keep going? How do you get published?
Of course, it’s not surprising that a lot of people who like to read also want to write. And fortunately, I love talking about the craft and business of writing. But I do find myself answering the same questions and giving the same advice again and again. So I’ve decided to start to put my stock motivational speeches together into a series of posts call, oddly, “Writing Advice.”
To give these posts visual interest and the appropriate authori-tie, I wasted many long minutes designing this exceedingly lame logo:
So let us begin at the end:
There will always be a part of your brain that wants to give up when characters aren’t behaving, when you don’t know where to go next, when the inspiration has faded. Donâ€™t give the start-something-else part of your brain any extra leverage, or it will win every time. And once it starts winning . . . Well, let’s just say that the not-finishing habit is a hard one to break.
It’s easy to think up logical reasons to stop writing a story. You say to yourself: â€œThis sucks. Why waste any more time? I’ll start something new that inspires me!â€
Yeah, well, the inspiration of a new story is exciting. But if you wind up not finishing ninety percent of what you start, guess what happens. After a few years youâ€™ll have written 100 beginnings, 40 middles, and only 10 endings. Which means youâ€™ll be great at writing beginnings, only so-so at middles, and you’ll suck at endings. Which means you will almost certainly keep faltering between the middle and the end of every story, which means youâ€™ll keep giving up and not finishing . . . Rinse, repeat.
And thatâ€™s a hole you donâ€™t want to fall into. So finish, even if you know this story isn’t going to win you the Nobel Prizeâ€”itâ€™s good practice to type THE END.
11 thoughts on “Writing Advice 1”
Also finish because it’s kind of pointless rewriting until you have a complete draft. And once you have that complete draft that’s when the real fun begins.
Re-writes fun??? Wow, I must be doing something wrong. 🙂
Possibly – I, too, have a love and talent for rewriting that is only matched by my month-long-commodity-cheese-binge-degree of constipated inability to get the first draft out in the first place. Eventually, I give up and just write yards of pure crap in the hopes of turning a writing problem into an much-easier-to-live-with editing problem.
And, I reckon, that’s exactly the way to do it, Soni. A friend of mine, Sylvia Kelso, shared this great aphorism with me when I was struggling to finish my phd thesis: “You can’t edit nothing but you can edit crap.” It’s so true.
And interesting trackback: David Moles was inspired by this post to put up a few newly written endings to old stories:
The overall effect of reading many story endings in a row (and without their beginnings) is an odd one, however. Sort of like watching cherry blossoms fall with a hangover.
I really like this advice. It’s practical, and unpretensious.
Finishing is my biggest problem. I started writing a book my sophmore year in highschool and I’m still only half way through the first draft…ugh! I like to stick mostly to poetry and short stories…it gets my thoughts out quickly. Maybe when I’m older I’ll be able to concentrate more.
I currently go to UNIS (you came there to talk about your book the Uglies!) It was very interesting. In fact, im working on the reading assignment for your book right now 🙂 I recently finished the book, and it was very interesting. I really enjoyed the whole sci-fi thing going on, as well as the hoverboards!! I wish that there was some pill invented or some drink that we could drink to make us live forever so i could experience what riding on a Hoverboard was like!!!!!!
Finishing is my biggest problem- i have tons of stories uploaded on my computer that i never finish. Well, if you’ll excuse me, i need to get back to my assignment. 😉
Finishing what I write isn’t the problem. I just recite like a mantra some cheesy but effective bookmark quote, ‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been.’ Then the inner dialogue starts up. This is crap, the inner jana says, why finish? Then I backslap the procrastinating, never can finish anything inner jana and say, ‘ha ha, but if you don’t like what you’re doing in life right now, then it’s only crap if you don’t finish. Besides, you are only 23, whereas I am older and wiser. Do as I bid.’
My wiser inner jana usually wins, but her problem is that she’s a perfectionist, and I end up going over my drafts again and again, trying to add layers to it, tying things together, trying to make everything as perfect as I can. So, thought 🙂 So, though I finished my First, second, and third draft, my inner perfectionist won’t let me send it out until my fourth, fifth, or seventh draft is done.
Aggghhhhh!!!!!! When will it end 😉
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