Tag Archives: non-writers

Taking Advice, or the Difference Between Writers and Non-Writers

Just as there are blogs and posts and pictures and near anything else dedicated to “Tips for Writing” there are as many out there about doing it wrong, what not to do, and generally what to avoid. While nothing is wrong with these, it can be if the person has had no previous experience in what they’re talking about, instead just passing the word.

The best word comes from someone who knows what it means, both through experience and observance.

I was reminded recently of a former friend who, after I had finished November last year, took to badgering me about finishing my work. On several occasions, I got messages with the caps lock on telling me to get to it already. Pushed and bullied, I felt the stress of having to complete something under someone else’s watch, but I never let him force me to do things.

One of the biggest reasons I didn’t take his words to heart  was because he wasn’t a writer like I am. He wrote journals every so often, and mostly he wrote about science fact, but on very rare occasion, he would write about something that related to his situation. Depressing, rather awful tales, that he wouldn’t touch after getting them finished. Which, I won’t judge: if that’s what he felt most like writing, more power to him, that’s fine.

… But when it comes to policing someone on what they should be writing and when, it is a lot better if you know by some experience what they’re going through before you cast judgement or forcefulness. Not that either of those are acceptable to do, either, because everyone goes at their own pace, not yours.

Fiction writers know fiction writers. It’s going to take some time, whether a small amount or a large amount, and we’re all different. We have good days where we can write chapter upon chapter and revise several and then move on to the next and further into our story. Then we have stretches of days or weeks where we just can’t get into things where they’re at (which, if that’s the case, try changing things up with how you see them at that moment).

If anyone is going to pressure you, it should be yourself, but not to a breaking point, and certainly not making you feel like trash until you do it. To make progress, you need to have some kind of confidence in yourself, to feel like you’re making headway instead of just doing something you should have done. While pressure and negativity work to help motivate some, it is not always the case for others.

Really, too, if you’re writing something for yourself, it shouldn’t have a damn lick of pressure to it. It’s yours. This is your story. You write when and how you like.

Your ideas for publishing, too, are your own. Don’t let someone deter you from doing what you want because they “think” that they have a better idea of how to go about it. There have been plenty of singular books published as a first publication of a first time author, the same as there’s been the first in a series, or the first in a trilogy.

I guess part of this I’m writing for myself. After months of being pushed around and chewed on like I don’t know what I’m doing, I want to do my best to prevent it from happening to anyone else. Thankfully, this person no longer corrupts my daily life, but he left a lasting impression that I don’t care for. Not that I really took any of his “lessons” to heart (I have Friend for that, I trust him more), but I still listened to what he had to say.

What bothered me most about him was that he kept shoveling advice at me that I didn’t ask for. “Publish this first,” “work on this, I want to see it, I want to edit, let me edit for you,” “You do too much of this, you shouldn’t,” “don’t do this,” “why would you do that?” “Why don’t you take out the parts you worked on with this person and work on it with me instead?”

Not only did I not ask for it, but from someone who didn’t write like I did, who had no aspirations to do such or even to publish himself, he found himself qualified because he had heard from others who did. A non-writer telling me that I was taking too long was exactly the way to make me want to scream.

I have trust issues with people who dispense unsolicited advice. Even more so when they’re not qualified to give it.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, do it on your terms, do it because you want to. Writing the book is going to take time, series writers can sometimes take years to bring about another book, and getting published can range from fairly easy to ‘holy shit, is this ever going to happen?’ Read advice from people who write what you write. Who know the endless worlds that you get into, who have seen what you want to see. Learn from their experience, not someone who has a lack of it.

– The Novice Wordsmith

( I guess on that note I have some room to talk, but as a writer, I like to think I have some license to it. )

Advertisements

NaNoWriMo 2014: Preparing, Week 2: Write-In

The general consensus for any activity is typically that it’s better done with more than just yourself. Sure, you can go it alone, but is it nearly as fun? And is it at helpful as having a good environment of people who help each other with the same interest?

Write-ins, held throughout the month by the municipal liaison (also known as a sort of leader figure for the region you’re a part of) and other wrimos in the area, can be about meeting others as much as about writing as much as possible in an environment that pulses with enthusiasm and encouragement.

They are especially great for extroverts and people who don’t mind the company, whether it’s simply having more presence or actively talking.

Even as an introvert, getting out and meeting other writers has always been exciting to me because sometimes, it feels like an exclusive club, and those who don’t write don’t exactly understand what or why I do what I do. Acceptance, a place that doesn’t make you feel left out. It’s nice, and so were a lot of the people I met at my first outings.

One thing that write-ins remind me of is a phenomenon seen in runners, where if you run slow, and you have a friend that comes along with that has a higher pace, you’ll see an increase in your own performance to keep up. It’s personal motivation to keep going: If the person sitting beside you has 10k words on the first day and still counting, it makes you want to push harder, and focus more.

Though there’s always the possibility of focus being lost. When you spend the time talking to others instead of working, mostly, it doesn’t entirely defeat the purpose, but it does hinder your wordcount.

Kick off parties, whether at midnight on November 1st or later in the day or week, are especially exciting, typically, and you might get some goodies for it (stickers, a calendar for what days you’ve completed as you go through the month, and other small things).

Most-all of these, by the way, are organized via the forums for your region on Nanowrimo.org.

Along with meeting new people at write-ins, you gain a support group, which can also hold true for the online community just as well, if you have friends all over the country, or even the world, who participate with you. You have people to trade experiences with and relate to, someone else to laugh with and bounce ideas and thoughts off of.

For this case, I remember an article from someone or somewhere about non-writers viewing your work and why it’s a bad idea… ( I have been looking for this godforsaken thing for thirty minutes and turning up empty handed still. I WILL find it. It will be here shortly…)

Of course, these gatherings are totally optional. You could spend all November curled up in the safety of your house without a care in the world, but it gives you a chance to get out and meet others if that’s what you like. Personally, knowing there are people like me, locally, who I can connect with, is exciting, most of my friends close by aren’t writers.

I did want to touch again on the online friend groups again, though, because the idea for this post sprouted from a facebook post that got some attention. I know a few people (and encouraged a couple) to do NaNoWriMo this year, and after becoming writing buddies on nanowrimo.org, I got really excited. For the first time, I had a group bigger than two or three people (myself included) that were going to write all through November. I have more people to talk to about the small writer’s blocks and the flash burn outs and the wordcount I surprised myself with, the writing frenzy I got into, or feeling stuck.

Friend is always there with me for Nano, of course, but sometimes, don’t you just feel the need to talk to people and geek out outwardly?

I guess in a way, that is the essence of Nanowrimo write-ins: to geek out with fellow writing geeks and to feel like you have a place to go, if you want.

Some people are more comfortable with staying in or away from it. For those who aren’t, November holds the potential for dozens of opportunities to meet, greet, and geek.

-The Novice Wordsmith