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Things I Now Know

When I started writing seriously (as opposed to laughing my head off at the very thought)I used to (and still do to a certain extent) devour books and magazines and articles about writing and authors, as if I thought they might reveal the secret to success - a sort of magical formula that would unlock the writing beast lurking within. Instead, all that was revealed was what I already knew in my soul. There is no magic formula. You simply have to Get On With It. In doing so though, there are some things I read at the time that I understand properly now, and plenty of things I've learned. For instance:-

Even if you start out with a definitive plot, it will sometimes veer off in directions you hadn't expected. I used to stick to a story religiously, like an architect with plans laid out, scared it would fall apart if I didn't, but now try to go with the flow.

Your characters often don't come 'alive' until someway into your book. The amount of times I've gone back and changed the first couple of chapters because they didn't 'sound' right, I could have written three novels! I now realise it's best to get to 'know' them properly, just keep bashing away, before going back to the beginning, when they were saying or doing things you now know to be out of character.

Once you get going, the words will start flowing, even if it's rubbish to start with. So true, so true. If only I could get going more often!

You'll know you're a proper writer when you're still doing it, despite the rejections mounting up. After my first rejection, I thought, that's it, I'm rubbish, I'm giving up (sob). But I didn't. I couldn't. I do it because I love it.

Walking the dog is when most ideas come. A lot of writers said things like this - and there's definitely something in it. When/if I ever am published, I'll have to dedictate the thing to Molly-dog.

The more you write, the better you'll get. Looking back, my first novel was pretty awful. Fun and spontaneous, but a bit cringey. I think I've definitely developed an 'ear' (or should it be 'eye') for dialogue and flow now.

Most writers' first novels (the ones that usually stay in a drawer) are the closest to being autobiographical. I couldn't see it at the time, but looking back, it SO was! Maybe you have to get that out of your system first. Unless you're writing a memoir, of course.

Writers' should read - a lot. I kind of knew this already, and have always been an avid reader, but reading as a writer is a different skill and surprisingly useful in terms of studying structure and pace. I'm able to separate reading for pleasure and reading as a writer now - no wonder my brain feels scrambled!

You don't feel quite like 'you' unless you write. That's true. I tried other creative outlets over the years (photography mainly) in a sort of extended form of procrastination, but finally succumbed properly to the writing urge about five years ago. Better late than never (though some would disagree!)

Any other insights I might have missed?


Lane said…
I think you've just about covered it there. Great points:-)

Funnily enough I never get ideas whilst dog walking. Too busy keeping an eye on them. Driving though - yes and when having a 'creative nap':-)

(am really hoping my first book isn't autobiographical!!)
Maddie Moon said…
I can definitely identify with all those points. Trouble is, I'm still on my first novel and reading it back does make for some cringeworthy moments.
I guess it depends what sort of books we're writing. It's more to do with thoughts and opinions I think. Looking back, it was quite obvious they were mine, rather than the characters'. Doh! Plus, one of my male characters was based so closely on someone I used to know, that I'm sure he would have recognised himself (not in a good way)had he ever read it, so maybe it's better it'll never see the light of day!
FPDuck said…
I get ideas whilst out walking- then get back through the door, completely forget about them (I think someone has installed a memory wipe around my door), and make a cup of tea instead.


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