Tuesday, July 20, 2010

10 Lessons for Writers


There are lessons about grammar and character arcs and plot development. These aren't those.

10. If you've blocked out a time for writing and you're writing well, the time will fly by in an instant. If you're not writing well, the time will drag on for eons.

9. Writing poorly is far easier than writing well.

8. Characters tend to speak loudest just as you're about to fall asleep.

7. If you're a morning person, you will write best in the evening and vise versa.

6. The realization of "This Is Crap" can come at any point. If you're lucky, it happens in the first 10,000 words. Let's just say I'm not all that lucky.

5. Even if you don't base your characters on anyone you know and the people in your life know this, it will not stop them asking "Am I in it?"

4. You will never read a book the same way again.

3. 85,000 words is a lot of words. A lot. You can't write it in a week. If you can, please go soak your head.

2. You will have all the patience in the world with your characters and very little with yourself.

1. People who ask "But what do you really do?" need to be abandoned on ice floes.


21 comments:

  1. Great lessons - especially #4, which is one of the downsides to writing.

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  2. I rather like #1! Sometimes it's tough to have patience with non-writers who simply don't get it. (But sometimes we need to because they are friends and family.)

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  3. Terry; WHY does no one warn you about this?

    jm; It is, isn't it? I love your blog, by the way. Good fun.

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  4. Oh my gosh, Elspeth! You captured them so well in so few lines! Love it!

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  5. Wonderful lessons. And #1 - I know several people in this category. I'm not certain there are enough ice floes to go around.

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  6. Sylvia; Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed this.

    Carol; Damn that global warming!

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  7. These are great! I always love your ten things, always right on the money! Omigosh how true how true-- every last one of them!!

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  8. Another great post by Beth, another smile on Leese's face. Nice to know there are some things I can always count on.

    :)

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  9. Karen; Thanks! I'm glad to learn I'm not alone...

    Elisa; I can always count on you to leave a lovely comment that swells my head. You owe me new hats.

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  10. Elspeth - These are just wonderful lessons! I am holding desperately onto #3, actually, since my WIP is going into serious overtime. But as you say, it is a lot of work to write a novel. We should acknowledge how hard it is and how long it takes. Thank you for a really penetrating and honest look at what it takes to write. I love it! No wonder I am here every day.

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  11. Love it! And relate to it. :) As far as #1 goes, I just ran into it today. Yes, I make things up for a living. Such as the living is!

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  12. Margot; You'd think we, of all people, would know how long it takes. Sometimes it takes shorter than we thought, sometimes it takes longer. Fast does not always mean better. I look forward to your blog every day as well.

    Elizabeth; Really? One more for the ice floe!

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  13. My characters always talk to me when I should be sleeping!

    And I know a few more folks for the ice floe! :)

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  14. Great lessons. #11 would be: When someone asks you what you do and you say, I'm a writer, they're response will be, Me,too. I'm gonna write a book someday.

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  15. Exactly right. Especially about the time dragging when things aren't going well...and the "This is Crap" realization. I once finished a whole first draft of a romantic suspense novel before I figured out my main character was a wimp. Total crap. Good writing practice, though. :)

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  16. I agree with all 10, but I have to admit #1 was my favorite!

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  17. Jemi; It's lovely and yet annoying at the same time, isn't it?

    Helen; Those folks don't get to be on ice floes. They get the bits that have already broken off.

    Patricia; How wonderful that you could take such a positive spin on that experience! I was bitter for days.

    Jane; I admit it's mine too. I'm pleased to hear you agree with them all - I was sure some were just me!

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  18. I have never felt less like a writer than the last few days. Thanks for this, Elspeth.
    Karen

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  19. Karen; I've been there. I have several tee shirts. Girl, trust me. It'll come when it comes.

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  20. Great list. All so very true. #2 resonates with me very strongly right about now.

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  21. This is a great list, and very true. Characters always speak loudest just as I'm about to sleep and while I can write more words in the morning (I am a morning person) my writing is better in the evenings. Thanks for sharing this.

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