Let’s Write a Novel #2 — Who Am I and Why Am I Doing This?

Image2I’m writing a new novel and blogging through the whole process so you can learn along with me.

For anybody who just wants to dive right in, you can head over to the Google drive folder and check out some of the planning documents and notes that I’ve uploaded.

Last week’s post explained how the project was going to work and how you can get the most out of it.

This week, I want to share a little bit more about myself and what made me decide to do this crazy project.

I’m 40 years old, and I started writing short stories when I was nine. I wrote my first novel when I was 12 (full disclosure: it was awful.) and I’ve spent most of my life either writing stories or studying writing craft. I spent the summer I was 16 taking college-level writing courses at the University of New Hampshire, and I’ve spent thousands of hours in workshops, writing courses, and reading craft books since then.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from all those hours of study and practice is that the study of fiction writing and the practice of fiction writing are completely different animals. Both are necessary, but you don’t really learn to write a novel until you’ve written a few. (Yes, “a few,” not just one.)

I learned a great deal of information and was exposed to a lot of different systems and techniques for “how to write,” but no one showed me how to expand on those lessons so that I could apply the concepts and techniques to my own writing style, rather than trying to mimic someone else’s or follow a set of arbitrary rules. Nobody talks about the emotional part of writing a novel, the ups and downs, the frustrations and the unexpected joys of this endeavor.

So, I want to share some of that.

I also want to help emerging writers or folks who’ve been “stuck” in their work avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve experienced.

Two years ago, I hit a wall in my writing. I had published several pieces of short fiction that year as well as my serial series, the Foxes of Synn. While all of them had compelling characters and interesting things going on, I noticed the same weaknesses cropping up again and again. It was so frustrating to be able to see the problems but not know how to fix them.

So, I did the only thing I could do at the time. I invested in some more courses, read some more books, and eventually learned what I needed to learn.

The problem was, in order to do that, I had to deconstruct everything that my instructor told me to do and find a way to apply it all on my own, because his methods were basically the opposite of how my creative process works.

 

I tried things his way for several months and the story I created for that class was one of the worst things I’d ever written.  The concepts and story arcs were, objectively, clearer than what I would normally have started with, but the end result was boring and devoid of the compelling characters and relationships that define my work.

I want to be clear. The problem was not my instructors methods. It was that he presented them as a system that had to be explicitly followed rather than a set of principles that each writer could apply in different ways.

My goal with Let’s Write a Novel is to use my drafting process as a blueprint for addressing common problems and struggles that writers deal with. My blog posts will show you my methods and present options and suggestions that you can try out for yourself, rather than trying to “teach” you a writing system that may or may not suit your needs.

You can follow along here by subscribing to the blog, or join my Facebook group for informal chatting and Q&A with me.

If you find Let’s Write A Novel helpful, please add a bit to my virtual tip jar to help keep the project going.

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