Tag Archives: novels

Guest Post: Getting By With a Little Help from My Friends

Writing a blog is a daunting task. Everyone and anyone can have a good idea, but past the initial ‘hey this is cool’ aura, a public blog lives and dies by its readership and authorship. But not in the way you might think.
Authors are driven by two opposing forces; writing and being read.

Some of us are heavily on the ‘writing’ side, where we can churn out mountains of text, some of it looking like snowy peaks, and others like coal mines with smoke pouring out of them, or the occasional volcano of a novel that blows up in the middle and spews ashen destruction everywhere.

Others are deeply moved to write by a need to  share writing with other people. To teach, to entertain, to be loved for your art of the amazing prose.

Writers block hits both types just as hard.

For a writer-side person, all it takes is a good kick of inspiration.

For a read-me type person, a little outside help is what’s helpful.

So here ya are, Novice Wordsmith.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to read your work, and to inspire you to write things. No matter what you do with this blog, you will always be a writer, and you will always have a fan in me, as long as I can see, and tell you just how far you’ve come along from where you were writing story fragments and leaning on cliches to where you are now, spinning worlds and universes and coming up with ideas and plot twists on the spur of a moment. I love the fact that you’ve chosen to share your love of writing with the rest of the universe of the ‘net, whether they care or not; you want to show others that writing is for everyone, writing is a passion, and with passion comes power.

Everyone has a novel inside of them. Whether finished or not, the more important part is the Idea, the Character, the constant Struggle to Succeed that they go through, and life — yours in particular — is a novel that is unfinished. You’re writing the hard chapter now, where the heroine is at loose ends and looking at a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in front of her.

In the novel, the hero or heroine can’t always solve things on their own. You learned as a writer to develop good supporting characters, whether foils, confidantes, staunch allies, comic relief, or constant reminders of why they do what they do.

You learned that obstacles make you stronger when you defeat them – and the hero or heroine (almost) always succeeds in the end by …what?

NEVER GIVING UP.

I’ve written blogs before. Advice blogs. Writing blogs. Ways to help me connect with friends and strangers, and strangers who became friends. Eventually I left those blogs behind, but they’re still there, as a reminder of who I was then, who I met at that time, and a smile or twenty of good memories because I lived through that part of the story, and though the folks I crossed paths with there have moved on, and so have I, sometimes I peek back at what I’ve done and remember. And say…

“…I wrote THAT?”

Exercise of whether it was good or bad is up to the reader. Hindsight is everything, concentration is often what’s lacking, and inspiration comes of being able to accept that not all ideas look good on the surface, but sometimes start as obnoxiously ugly first drafts.

And sometimes, as you’ve found, it takes a little help from a friend to get things going again. Of being able to fall back to where you were before you were this awesome, giving yourself permission to be bad for a little while so you can find the good parts in the brain-muck that is writer’s block.

Some of the best novels have come out of horrible ideas.

Some of the worst novels started out amazing but ran out of steam or premise.

Some of them have even been published.

Quit worrying about being perfect today. That’s what editing is for.

Give yourself permission to write badly. But write something. Nobody judges painters when they create misshapen faces, bleeding clocks, or crayon drawings — some of them even get paid for it, too. Perhaps you’re trying to beat out the writing of some literary idol you aspire to be like, and you shouldn’t — because they have editors too.

Wordsmith, you have people who like your stuff here. And others will find it in time. For being someone who doesn’t market herself much at all, you have a following — and even if they aren’t a legion, it only takes one fan to make you realize that someone likes your stuff.

Hi. Can I be your number one fan?

Whether you accept it or not, I’m here to help you out (for her amazing fans, I’m giving her a break so she can get her writing chops back under her — don’t worry, she’ll be back, but you could speed up the process by leaving her a note or giving her a like or something….).

Beware! I am invading your blog with bizarre ideas that are not your own!

…um… prompt, please?

Journal-ism

One of my favorite, writing-centric gifts I ever got was a journal. I’d gotten so many before, but this one was special, because it came with a prompt: “Write, on the first of every month, about everything that happened in the last one.”

Simple as it was, it was perfect for where I was with my writing. I wanted to get into the groove of daily writing, but hadn’t quite had the motivation for it. Having something monthly to do and look forward to not only helped me figure out what I was going to write, but how I was going to write it. I had a tool that would stoke my creativity in a way that was different from my typical fiction writing, but it helped no less.

Writing about yourself and how you feel might be some of the easiest writing you do. It comes from your heart and your head and requires no other effort than to figure out how you’re going to word it. Most of all, it’s a great place to start if you want to work on writing more!

Blogs are great things for this reason. They encourage you to share as well as to keep writing. It gives you an outlet, and a place to let go of whatever’s been cluttering your head, and in some cases, it helps you reach out to others when you need it.

I’ve always had a fondness for journals. There’s a kind of magic to them, open, blank, and ready for your words. It’s a literary canvas, waiting for the paint, eager for it. Use a pencil to write in and erase and keep writing until you’ve filled up every inch of every page. One of my happiest little achievements will always be filling up that journal that I was given. I ran out of space for November, even!

The second year I got a journal, I didn’t write in it as much. I’ve written December and January,  but the rest remains untouched. Part of me feels guilty about it, but the other part sees it as growth.

I’ve gone from sometimes struggling to write monthly to writing daily, at least 500+ words, and sometimes more, depending.

On the other hand, journaling can, in some ways, help your quality of life. When you can’t speak to someone, or when you’re afraid of what they’ll say, having that outlet at all is a great step forward. Get out the thoughts that you don’t like or can’t keep silent about. Personal, intimate things need to be said, too, and writing them out is sometimes the best way for that.

Keeping a journal, whether it’s physical or online, intimate or general, is a good place to start if you’re having trouble writing daily. Make a commitment to do it weekly, or monthly, or however you’re comfortable, and see where it takes you.

The beauty of keeping a personal journal is that it’s yours. There’s no one to worry about pleasing, it’s you and your thoughts alone in a book or a blog tailored to you. Your creation, your writing, your whatever. You can doodle in the margins, get some drawing practice with font designs, or use it as a scratch pad for when you get inspired on the run or anywhere.

I should have called this post ‘back to basics,’ thinking about it: the versatility and simplicity of a bound book of blank pages has been a go-to since the beginning for anyone with ideas. And on the other hand, the filled book, be it a novel or a finished notebook, has just as much magic in it, both for its potential, and for the effort put into it.

-The Novice Wordsmith