8 March 2011

Guest Post by Laura Drake: A Million Ways Not to Write a Book


Laura Drake
This novel writing is very hard stuff.  Trying to learn craft while balancing plot, ideas, genre, and market. How anyone finishes a novel amazes me.  Sometimes it feels like I’m golfing and juggling . . . at the same time.

We all have our own ways not to write. You know what I mean – the conscious or unconscious things you do to avoid writing the damn book. Mine is the “I can’t write because I don’t know what happens next,” model.  It even sounds legitimate, until the quandary stretches out two weeks, and I’m forced to face the fact that I’m avoiding.
It wasn’t until I joined a writer’s group though, that I found that everyone has their own way of not writing a book. The below are a few of the categories I’ve noticed: 
  • Too busy; life is too disorganized. I’ll get back to it when . . . fill in the blank.
  • I’m blocked. 
  • I have to do more research. I need to take more classes. When I know more, then I can write.
  • I have so many ideas swimming around in my head that I can’t decide which one to write about.
  • I start a story, but when I get to the middle, it peters out, and I move on to a new idea.
  • I’ve completed the novel, but it’s not ready. Years of revision – it’s never ready.
  • I’ve finished the story and edited it, but I never get around to sending it out.
  • I’ve written the first six chapters, polished it, and entered every contest known to man. It’s even placed in contests. I just never finish the book.
  • I have this wonderful idea. No really, no one has ever thought to do a book on this fascinating subject. Why don’t you write it, and we’ll both share in the riches we’ll get from it?
  • I’m afraid the person (family member) I wrote about in a novel (and disguised) is going to recognize themselves. My family will implode.
  • I don’t understand the character well enough. I need to do character studies, interviews, horoscopes on them to be able to write.
  • And mine; how can I write on, when I don’t know what happens next?

I may have missed a few, but you get the idea. Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not being critical. I am right there in the mix, and I believe every author, from Plato to Stephen King, has their own way of not writing the book.

BUT. One of the most important things that separates the successful published author from one who never finished the book is that they plowed through the above. One of my favorite quotes is from Randy Pausch:

“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people"

Those reasons are just roadblocks our brain throws up to cover up the fact that we’re scared. You can’t live with the thought that you’re too afraid of failure to reach for your dreams, so you use a perfectly legitimate excuse. I do it too.

But you know what I’ve found? When I ignore the fact that I don’t know what comes next, and sit down and type, something comes out. Sometimes what comes out is better than I imagined.

All the reasons above are perfectly legitimate.  They’re all true.  The question is: are you going to let them keep you from holding that published book in your hand, and opening it for the first time? From your dream of seeing someone in a coffee shop somewhere, reading your book? I’m not. I’m going now to write the next part, in spite of the fact that I don’t know what it is.

Laura Drake March 2011 

Laura has been writing romance and women’s fiction for over ten years and is currently editing her third novel. Based in Southern California, Laura is a corporate CFO during the day and a wife, grandmother, writer - and biker chick in the remaining waking hours!

1 comment:

  1. So so true. That's how I do it. I work, have 2 small kids, a hubby, and a pain in the butt dog, but I make it happen because I want it THAT bad. Nothing like getting into the creative zone!

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