Advice for wannabe writer(8 Posts)
I'm a full time mother of three, and ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer.
I now have 2.5 hours in the morning on weekdays to myself because my youngest has started nursery. I have been so excited about this for ages, but actually I'm finding I'm not getting down to it.
There's the usual distractions that get in the way - house, kids etc.
But there's something more fundamental than that....I'll try to explain it here:
I need a framework, a plan, a goal. I need to know that I'm getting somewhere, that the time I am spending "writing" is actually going somewhere. Because sitting in a room with a laptop for a couple of hours with nothing much to show for it seems like a strange thing to do, when there are hundreds of other things I could be doing to make my busy life easier.
I am very sure about the genre and length of book that I want to write. I have been on loads of writing courses in the past years, so I know as much as I think I need to about the craft and how the publishing industry works.
I have a few ideas that I daydream about and write about, but something is preventing me from really getting going on it, and treating the ambition seriously. It's almost like I don't dare put full trust in following up on an idea. Or I think that I could, if only I had a bit more time to do some research.
Does anyone have any advice or experience on just getting on with it?
I don't want to go on another course. But I have really enjoyed the courses I have been on, partly from the knowledge gained, but also partly because I am in a group of like-minded people who will give me feedback on small pieces of work. And on longer courses, knowing that you were expected to write something every week gave you the motivation of a deadline.
Does anyone know if there is a kind of writer's buddy scheme -a way of pairing or grouping up like-minded aspiring authors who could comment / encourage / regularly check in on each other's work?
If not, are there any other aspiring authors out there in a similar position to me, who would like to try such a thing? And if anyone has done such a thing, what is their experience of it - has it worked?
I know there are local writers groups around, but it's not that easy for me to go to meetings in the evenings, and I'm not sure that they would offer exactly the support I am looking for.
I have also seen that there are all kinds of systems like "Write a novel in x number of weeks" out there. Has anyone actually used one of these, and does it work? Is there something that offers some kind of framework, but is not all prescriptive and boot-campy (as the one I mentioned above seems to be). I think this would knock any creativity out of me.
Sorry about this very long post. In short, I need a framework and I need feedback. Any ideas?
I wasn't quite clear from your post - are you actually getting any words down, or are you sitting down at the laptop and not producing anything? Have you ever completed a full-length draft?
IME (and this is a normal view) you don't need feedback on your first draft, you need to finish it and probably rewrite it. Feedback along the way will slow you down. Then after the first draft it'll probably be fairly obvious what's wrong, if you've done creative writing classes. Once you've polished it up with a rewrite or two, that's when feedback from other people comes in handy.
Things like NaNoWriMo (write a novel in 4 weeks) don't actually have any kind of a system, they just have a deadline.
If you want buddying, find an online writers' forum - there are several. I like AbsoluteWrite but it's not the only one. If you're sitting down at the computer but not typing any words you could try writeordie.com/
Hope some of this is useful.
Thanks very much, yes it is useful.
I was doing a bit of disjointed writing, and a little bit of research, but not really committing to anything.
It's made me realise that I've got to get a first draft of something done. With that in mind, I've set myself a basic timetable to get the first draft of a book done by June next year.
You've also made me realise that having feedback at this stage isn't useful. I think that I have never really done anything as a sole venture before. But it would be a useful experience......
Just thinking a bit more clearly and seriously about it has made me feel like it is possible.
This is one of the questions I get asked more than other; how do you going? Actually, where do you get your inspiration from is probably number one, but how to get going is more interesting, right?
There are lots of ways of course, but I'll start with what works for me.
First percolate the idea of the novel in some detail. Who are central characters? What is the central story? What are the main themes? What am I actually trying to say?
It sounds like you might have done this?
My next decision (and I view writing as a series of conscious decisions) is to choose the structure. What will work best? What structure will best encapsulate what I'm trying to do.
I know others don't do this consciously. They let the structure find them. Zadie Smith for example, works her opening endlessly until she finds the tone. From that tone she will see her structure (though looking at NW I suspect she set herself several structual challenges from the get go).
Once I have the structure, I make a detailed plan (actually I don't any more, but then I'm an old hand so I have a better feel now. But I did for the first three books).
The plan is a scene by scene account. For each scene a page setting down whose POV the scene is from. Where it is set. What happens. Why it is necessary. What am I trying to say (keep coming back to this one). I like to juggle POVs, and have a pattern. I also check that each scene segues into the next properly.
When I have my master plan, which may contain a hundred of more sheets, I begin ti write. I show up every day and write out the scene in order. Sometimes that scene will now be fully fleshed, but at other times I write little more than is already on the card and move on. Sometime sit might say only FFS something needs to happen here!
When I get to the final card/page, my first draft is complete.
The fun, for me, is over and the horrible process of re-writing begins .
Write-track is really useful. It's simple but just setting yourself official goals and logging what you do every day gets you working.
Having said that I've done a first draft but need to get down to my editing after being side-tracked by other stuff for a week or two!
As a strictly amateur writer, I'd say that if you want to be a writer then you need to write. You mention courses, but have you written anything that was just for you rather than an assignment? A finished story, with a beginning, a middle and an end? If not, you probably want to do that with something rather shorter than a novel. Maybe a vignette based on one of the ideas you daydream about?
Wanting to have written is not the same as wanting to write.
I second the recommendation of AbsoluteWrite. Great site, very welcoming of writers of all levels of experience, and their critique forum is really really good (and utterly terrifying when nobody's put serious amounts of red ink on anything you've written since school...)
I am also a mum of three. I decided to write a novel last January. I made myself sit down and write for 2 hours every weekday, 2000 words. And that's what I did, on and on, until it was finished. You need to give yourself a year. The more you write, the better you'll get at it, and the more you'll want to do it.
I actually enjoyed the re-writing more than the writing and would have done it for 8 hours a day if I'd had the time.
For me personally, I didn't do courses or writers groups or critique partners as I see these as procrastination. My opinion is you just have to write and write, then put it out to beta-readers when you're done, to see if the things any good!
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