Thursday, March 7, 2013

Writing Self-Help Books: My Worst Enemy

Writing self-help books. Are you as addicted to them as I am? I swear, I've read too many for how many completed novels I have. Which is what again? Oh yeah. A big fat 1. One. O. N. E. A lot of good all that reading has done! So my epiphany: Writing Self-Help books are my wost enemy!

 I try to tell myself that I only read a billion writing help books because I'm dedicated to my novels and want them to be the best they can be. Which is true. Partly. If you've spent even five minute on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, browsing books about writing, you know the selection is MASSIVE! And I mean massive! Like female-hygiene-isle-in-Walmart massive! But I was so determined to improve my writing dramatically that I got a sample of just about every book in a several hour period. I quickly started plowing through them and deleting ones I didn't like, so excited about how much my writing was going to improve. I bought a few, then rented some more from the library, then sampled a few more, then add twelve to my wish list. I have a huge notebook which I keep as my "writing improvement" book for all my notes. Which is a GREAT idea if you don't have one already! No more flipping through dozens of books for the highlighted sections! So here I am, dedicating several hours a week to reading and taking notes, when I had an epiphany.

Yesterday, I wrote over 2k words in my novel. It is on it's third draft (I know, 3rd!) and I'm still changing huge chunks of it. When I finished, (mostly because I got antsy and my wrists hurt) I looked at how much I had written. It was double what my daily goal was. Double! I realized just how much time I was wasting on reading all those books, never getting a chance to put their tips to use. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't really a "waste" since I got some great notes. But when I'm trying to be a novelist, not an expert on writing novels, it seems to get in the way and by the end of a couple hours, I feel like I accomplished nothing. But oh boy, when I finish writing a couple thousand words and actually working on my novel, I feel so accomplished I could yell it from the rooftops! And I have!

 I decided that I will improve my craft once a week. That is all. The rest of the time, I will be working on the actual craft. I will get the novel on paper. There is time to perfect when I'm in the revising stage and cleaning up the copy. I realized I will never learn all there is to know. I will never read every book on writing there is. Even if I did, that doesn't mean it will automatically make me an amazing writer and I'll be able to zip through my next novel like J.K. Rowling. I must write. For that is the goal. So I'm sharing this nugget of wisdom with all you fellow writers that feel you can never learn enough about the craft and find yourselves reading writing book after writing book, but your novel stays the same length. We are procrastinating. We are afraid. I know I am.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a novel that is calling! And so do you! Or at least you should! Stop putting off the writing, sharpening that character, improving that plot line and just do it. Finish the book you're reading and then write! Learn a few tips every month so that you are always improving but don't forget what is most important: your novel. We learn by experience. Your second book will be better than your first. And your forth book will be better than your third! That isn't due to a ton of writing books. That is due to you actually writing and finding out what works, what your readers like, what you like, etc. Wow, I sound a bit like Tony Robbins. You'd think I'd have actually published a book with the way I talk and lecture. Nope. Not yet. Just a writer trying to share her epiphanies with other writers. Here's to your novel! And keep an eye out for some tips coming soon from books I've read so you don't have to!

From One Writer...


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