By: L.Z. Marie
I began writing my first novel 5 years ago. Boy, was I naive! Yet, looking back, those 5 years feel like both an eternity and a blink of an eye. Because I taught literary analysis and have a B.A. in Literature (la-de-da) I thought I was ahead of the novel game, but all I had were book smarts not the experience with applying those authorial techniques.
Here’s the TOP 13 things I learned about writing during that time.
- You need to be dedicated. For most of us that means writing EVERY DAY. I can probably count on one hand the days I didn’t write something (and I’m not counting Facebook posts and tweets.) Some days I wrote or rewrote several pages. Other times—after a long aggravating day at work—I was lucky to write a paragraph.
- Take advice from people who know. Go to conferences if it’s in your budget. Read lots and lots of blogs, articles, and books about the craft of novel-writing. You can avoid many newbie errors by studying the craft and pitfalls.
- Your first novel probably needs more rewrites than you think. My final-final-final rewrite of my first novel came after a frienamy (friend + enemy) told me it sounded amateurish and had no voice. Ouch! But, I thanked her and rewrote it twice more.
- Friends and family are absolutely CERTAIN they’re a character in your story no matter how many times you tell them otherwise.
- You discover who your real friends are. Real friends read your story, discuss your story, let you cry on their shoulder, give honest feedback and, most importantly, encourage you to keep writing, keep querying, keep keeping the dream. Real friends don’t look at you in horror and say “You’re writing a novel?” Sadly, my loving well-intentioned parents told me many, many times to stop writing. (They never read my blogs so I know they won’t read this.) Oddly enough, they still want to read all of my novels.
- It gets easier—sort of. The more you write, the more the words flow, the easier sentences are to manipulate. It’s Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule: It takes lots and lots and lots and lots of practice to be proficient.
- Really good beta readers are hard to find. . .
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