There are no hard-and-fast rules to writing. There is no handbook that says, “This will be the only way this will ever work.” No author is the same as any other. We may have similar writing styles, but that doesn’t make us the same, anymore than if two artists sat down to paint the same scene. They may look at the same thing, but it won’t be identical on the canvas.
I’ve seen interview questions- what advice do you have for aspiring authors? Where do you get your inspiration? There are so many questions, and thousands of different answers. These truths may not hold true for every author. As a matter of fact, I’m certain they won’t. But these are 10 writing truths that work for me.
1- You can’t just write a book. You have to have read books, many books, find ones you loved, ones you hated, and ones you think you could perfect if given the chance! Ones you’d change the hero the heroine ends up with, ones you’d rewrite the entire ending to, to satisfy yourself…
2- Authors have “fan” moments, too! We have authors we aspire to be like, authors we want to write like, authors we want to meet as colleagues, and authors we hope will someday be fans of our work. I have several authors I chat with on a regular basis, and most of them I was a fan of long before I was “one of them.” It still thrills me to talk to them, and to feel “important enough” for them to talk to!
3- We can be book hoarders, same as those who buy our books. Some of the biggest book junkies I know are other authors. I know some authors who spend the majority of their royalties buying other author’s books!
4- Editing is painful. Small edits are like being forced to perform plastic surgery on your own child. Large edits, rewriting, cutting of entire segments, or God forbid entire chapters? That’s like cutting off a frostbitten finger or toe. It’s painful, even when it’s necessary.
5- Even when you’ve written a book, you have to write more books. You can’t just write one and be done with it. The work won’t let you. YOU won’t let you, and the characters certainly won’t let you! The words will hound you, ruin your sleep, plead with you to just let them free…
6- Lives have to be lived! No author lives the exact same life, but regardless, lives have to be lived. I have a husband and 2 children that depend on me. No matter how vital a scene feels, how much I “have to” write down right this minute, I still have to stop to do laundry, make dinner, or just spend quality time with them.
7- There will come a story idea, and you won’t write it down. And you will lose it… and probably a part of your sanity along with it. I have notebooks everywhere. In my purse, 2 on my desk, 1 on my nightstand. But sometimes ideas come while grocery shopping and I can’t stop to write it down while I’m juggling the food budget. Or I’ll be driving and forget before I reach my destination. Or maybe I’m nearly asleep and too lazy or tired to turn on the light, write it down, and I swear I’ll remember come morning- but of course, it’s gone. No point beating yourself up over it, as other ideas will come, and maybe even better ones….
8- You’ll beat yourself up over the lost ideas anyway. It’s par for the course. That could have been THE ONE! The book that launched your name into stardom, that made your characters unforgettable… The one that you finished and said, “This is why I started writing, because someday I would write this.” Let it go! You’ll end up in a dark corner sucking your thumb and crying… channel that into writing something better. After all, maybe that idea sucked- tell yourself that, and eventually it helps.
9- You have to live your life! This may seem like #6 again, but it isn’t. You can’t write about life if you live in a bubble. Even if you write a historical novel, you need to feel emotions, engage in conversations, interact with people to get the feel right. You need social stimulation, and to remember you’re human.
10- You have to remember to BE human! Food is important. Coffee, nectar of the gods, is still only a liquid. You need real food. And hey, maybe it’ll trigger a scene where a character eats food, and something important happens… Bribe yourself with that to remind yourself to eat! It sucks to only remember food when it’s nearly 7 p.m. and your family is scarfing down chips because you forgot to feed yourself as well as them!
These may not be everyone’s truth, but they are true to me. I hope they made you laugh. And from any authors reading this, which of these apply to you? Now it’s time for me to remember to be human and crawl to bed…..