Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 Writing Things in 2010

 Top ten things I've learned about writing in 2010.

1. Craft books are not the devil.-- Maybe it's a tad weird that this is my number one, but it really is. I used to hate any books, or even blogs, aimed at writing advice. That has nothing to do with MY story, I would think as I flipped scathingly through.

And then... sometime around my third or fourth week of writing classes, it hit me. The book I was reading (Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell) could save the Book That Wouldn't Die and make it something that might actually be publishable. Since then, I've learned to look at craft books as they pertain to my manuscript. I'm not looking back.

2. Writing really is 99.9% revising. I've been reworking the same manuscript for months, and I know it won't be submittable for a long time. That's okay. I'm learning to write. I imagine the next one will go more smoothly, but I'll still be revising and revising. It really doesn't look much like what I started with. But eventually it will be all the better for it.

3. Read to learn. That's what my book musings are all about. I've spent my life reading books-- 1,515 of them according to GoodReads-- and yes I osmose so they've influenced me, but only recently have I started looking more closely at plot and character. I think it's helping.

4. Writing can take over everything. I started this blog at nine this morning. It's three. Granted, I had other things to do in that time, but also? I was writing. The important thing is to make sure you don't miss out on living to write. Don't skip that concert, the keyboard will keep. Plus, I've found that when I do things during a project my writer-brain is on and I never know where it's going to take me.

5. It's okay to abandon a manuscript. I felt guilty about constantly working on Current WIP, so I started a second draft of a different project. The magic wasn't there. It took me ages to realize that honestly I didn't like m main character. And why shouldn't I work on the WIP? I knew it wasn't finished. I gave myself permission to let it go, and maybe go back to it eventually.

6. Workshopping is not the devil. Really, it's not. I was terrified the first time I gave a chapter of my current WIP to my writing class. I really thought they'd say it was awful, horrible, terrible, no good very bad. They didn't, and they gave me criticism that really helped. Will I not be afraid next time they get a segment of it? Probably I will. But I'll be ready for what comes.

7.  The rules are there for a reason. I used to read about people whose writing vastly improved once they realized this, and laugh. My writing's fine. Those adverbs are TOTALLY necessary. Plot? Psh, this novel is all about memory and association. It doesn't need plot.


Me-a-year-ago, do yourself a favor. Go read the rulebooks. Please. They help, really they do. Really, no really, no really.

8. Writers are real people. Seeing YA authors like Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson and Maureen Johnson on the web gives me hope. They're goofy, and fun, and obsessed with things like Doctor Who and Grey's Anatomy the same way I am. Also some of them (Stephanie Perkins) have alternatively colored hair just like me!

9. I want to be a writer. It wasn't something I admitted for years, but now... I'm up for the rejection, perseverance and possible living-with-my-parents. I'll work, and fight, and work some more. One day I will be a published author, like I wanted to be at thirteen. That I am certain of.

10. I have so much more to learn.

1 comment:

  1. Another good book on writing that blew my mind: Story by Robert McKee. When I thought I knew everything, it changed the game. It comes from a script writing perspective, but it's worth reading for any storytelling.