With it being November and NaNoWriMo I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I’ve also been thinking about writing a lot and I’ve spent some time with groups of writers. Some of these are published writers. Some write fiction, some write articles. Some are very experienced and have written novels for years but aren’t at the stage of submitting them yet. Some just write for fun, and some are just starting out.
Writing groups are interesting things. I’ve been part of several different versions of two very different writing groups over the years. One of those groups no longer exists. The other does but basically in name only because I am the only person still attending regularly from when I joined in 2007 and it’s set up is completely different. I like it but it no longer gives me what I would like in a writing group.
Anyway that’s a bit of a long winded way to say I’ve been thinking about what tips I’d give to people who are doing NaNo for the first time or who just want to get into writing.
Do it because you want to. Writing is not easy and it’s not going to make you masses of money. And certainly not anytime soon. At the last nano meet up I went to someone said Danielle Steel is quoted as saying it took her 15 years to become an overnight success. Most people think My Best Friend’s Girl is Dorothy Koomson’s first book. It’s not, it was just her first smash after being part of the Richard and Judy book club. Her first book was The Cupid Effect published several years before.
Pick the right people to talk to about your writing. I have several great friends I can talk to about writing in general. Tips, tricks, mechanics it’s all good. But with a couple of them I’ve learned not to talk about what I’m writing. One of them doesn’t like the sort of stuff I write and thinks it isn’t “proper writing”. The other does but if I say “I’ve started a story where XYZ happens” they immediately tell me everything that’s wrong with the idea. I’d happily show them a finished project for nitpicking (although probably not as my first beta reader) but not for new idea encouragement.
Read. Read lots. Read things that are like what you want to write and which aren’t. I’ve not been reading many books this month, I’ve mostly been reading fanfic. And I’ve been thinking there was something missing in what I’ve been writing. A few days ago I started listening to an audiobook and I twigged. It felt flat because it needed more descriptions of setting etc. I’m not sure my writing is much improved by that but it feels better.
50,000 words is not really a novel. It’s not long enough unless your writing kid lit or YA. Nor are you like to come out with a finished novel (hell I doubt I can ever call what I’ve got a first draft). Put it away and then go back to it fresh in a few days/weeks/months to finish it and give it a damn good edit. And for the love of god do not finish writing it in November for NaNoWriMo and submit it to publishers in December. Apparently that happens a lot. From what I’ve heard from a few publishing types they hate it and generally end up wanting to bitch slap people who do that for the sheer stupidity of it.