Thursday, November 11, 2010

A word of encouragement:

To all of you struggling writers out there, I would like to use today’s entry to offer you a few words of encouragement. I’ve been talking about outlining and world building, but today I just want to tell you the secret to writing.

And that secret is quite simple: it’s not hard.

I know that probably doesn’t help, but here me out. Writing is only as hard as you make it; if you decide that it’s going to be difficult, that you can “only write when you are in the right mood”, that “you need the right things for inspiration”, or any other crap like that, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Samuel Clemmons(better known as Mark Twain), was well known for saying “genius is one tenth inspiration, nine-tenths perspiration”. And he’s absolutely right. Coming up with a good idea is easy. If you’re already thinking about writing, chances are you’ve already got a good idea. Thinking up something original, unique, and awesome probably comes naturally to you. If it doesn’t, stick to making fanfics and whining on your live journal, because you are not a writer.

But if you are the sort of person who routinely trips over an awesome new story idea, then congratulations, you have already conquered the part that everyone else thinks is hard. It doesn’t take much work to train your brain, either; once you’ve gotten used the sort of inventiveness that you will need to make your dream a reality, from there its all sunshine and rainbows.

Yesterday, while struggling futilely to fix the network at my exalted place of employment, I stumbled upon a neat concept for a book series I have been working on for some time. I’ve been planning this one out for years, and have now gotten a pretty good tackle of the first book. I hadn’t yet established an over-arc for the series, and had been struggling for some time to get it down.

That’s when it hit me. It was a simple concept, but I took it and ran with it, and after turning the idea in my head over all day, I had it down. Dashing out the unique, creative parts for 3 whole novels took all of twenty minutes. Sure, there is a lot more work to do right now those books consist entirely of a few paragraphs of “this is what happens in this order”, which no details and tons of missing parts. We aren’t even talking complete outlines here, just information about what is going into the book.

But that’s the one tenth of inspiration.

That part of writing isn’t hard, and the other part isn’t, either. The other part, the nine tenths of perspiration; it’s a lot of work, but it isn’t what I would call difficult. I think what people fail to realize is that it takes time. You sit down and start writing, four hours later you’ve got 10 pages, and you think “When am I EVER going to finish this?” Well, the answer is in about 27 hours, if you can average 30 words per minute(the average adult typing speed) after 27 solid hours of typing, you’ll have a near 50,000 words, a good start for a light novel.

But there is typing, and then there is writing. And while you can probably type 30 words per minute, most of us do not write that fast. So even if you drop it to just 10 WPM(a reasonable speed to allow for creativity to flow), that only brings you up to about 85 hours. Of course, that’s 85 solid hours of work, odds are you will not sit down and then get up 85 hours later.

So, with school, work, family, friends, and whatever else gets in the way of writing, you might be lucky to squeeze in an hour a day. Congratulations, you’ll be done in 85 days. Sounds like a lot? Spend more time at it. Just keep in mind that, realistically, writing a novel is going to take several months. And, once you’ve got the rough draft, look forward to revising.

Author of the Gust took me 5 years to write. This wasn’t 5 years of solid labor, obviously, but to go from concept to completion was a process that lasted 5 years. The yet-unpublished sequel took two years, and the third volume of that cycle took about 7 months. I was probably working a lot more than an hour a day on the last one(its about 80,000 words long), but still, you see my point: writing is a process, the process takes time.

It’s not hard, I want to leave you with that, but don’t rush it. Don’t expect to churn out a finished, polished novel in a week. I’ve been working on the Course Books for close to 10 years now. The next cycle, called Consecution, is only in the initial planning stages, and has been for the last two years.

Work hard, be patient, and you’ll have a first novel you can be proud of.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel Free to Drop a Line