I am currently reading Writing the Breakout Novel by literary agent Donald Maass. As I am going through this I am not only highlighting like a mad woman but I’m going through my own writing as I go along.
Before I went to bed last night, I had some thoughts. It was a good thing I keep a notebook on my nightstand. And as fellow writers, I’m sure you know the importance of that too. What? You say you don’t keep a notebook by your side? Shame on you. Some of the best inspiration come in the middle of the night or right before falling asleep. So get a notebook! And a pen! The worst is fumbling around in the dark for a pen and then a minute passes and the thought is gone.
I have found that not only do I sometimes feel writing is a chore, I often put it off. Shame on me! I need a little guy on my shoulder to lecture me when I’m slacking. But why am I slacking?
Some ideas I’d like to share that I’m going to apply to my own writing and was sparked from Writing the Breakout Novel is about my novel as a whole. Why isn’t it finished? Why aren’t I submitting it to Lit Agents? Why aren’t I doorbell ditching my novel just in hopes that someone will read it?
I have discovered and come to the resolution that if I don’t get excited to write my book, how can I expect my readers to be excited to read it? If I don’t cheer for my character, cry with/for my character or fear for them, how can I expect my readers to? The point is, I want to write a book I want to read. I want to write a character I like and can relate to and want to succeed.
Do you scramble out of bed in the morning just to find out what is going to happen to your protagonist? Do you stay up late to see what your Villain is plotting? Me either! Am I being a little dramatic? Yes. Are all great writers like this? No. But I want to be. And you should too.
Why do I write? It used to be because I enjoyed it. Now its because I want to have written. My joy for writing is going with the wind as my need for having written hardens. That’s just not right. Read any writing self-help book and different authors will say different things. One told me that if you want to be an author, you must treat it like a job. You must set hours, not have fun and just do it. I also read that to write you need to want to write and as a newbie author I should want to write. I’ve also read that writing is a chore to writers and most writers don’t enjoy writing.
What the??? What sense does that make? Yet somehow I’m that writer. Yet I’m a newbie. It is a little comforting that another author has validated my odd lack of desire to write. I’m not crazy. I’m a writer. But I tell ya, not wanting to write doesn’t make me feel like a writer. It makes me feel like a loser.
So here is my plan- maybe one of my New Year’s Resolutions: I want to enjoy my books. If I’m not enjoying writing them, why not? How can I enjoy them more? If I were reading this, what would I want to happen next? What would I hope would happen next?
More to come on liking what you write and how to do that … once I figure out the secret. In the meantime, pick up the book Writing the Breakout Novel and get out your trusty highlighter. Now take what I’ve gathered and assess your own novels/short stories. Do you like to write them? If you do, you’re awesome and I fully expect to see you on the book shelves soon. If not, find out why and fix it.
If your characters don’t suck you in or you can’t connect with them, now you know what to work on. If your setting just doesn’t envelope you, work on that! If your stakes just aren’t high enough for you to care, raise those babies!
Go get ’em! Let’s change the way writers are. Let’s make it “writers love to write” instead of that they don’t. Cuz after all, you should only do what you love. We want people to go “Man, you’re a writer. Lucky duck!” and have us think, “Yes I am,” not “Ugh, if you only knew”. Focus on the writing and not the payoff, the completed project or being published. Write for the readers. Write for you! If nothing else, at least you’ll have a book you’ll read over and over again. And that should be a comfort.