It’s been a little over a year since I quite my management job, became a part-time shit kicker, and focused my attention on being a writer.
Over this past year I have been devouring resources about writing. I have completed courses on plot, characters, dialogue, structure, and planning. I have subscribed to blogs and newsletters from around the world. And you know what I discovered? Writing is a world of contradictions, and sometimes hypocrisies.
Some articles tell you the planning stage is the most important. Once you have a detailed, documented plan, preferably plugged into a writing program (‘and here’s a link to buy the program I recommend’), then you can whip out a novel in a matter of seconds. (Ok, maybe I exaggerate by saying seconds. Perhaps it was days.)
Some resources tell you the most important thing to do is write. Don’t worry about the plan – the story will come to you as you write. Don’t worry about the quality – that’s what editing is for. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you are doing – you’ll figure it out. Don’t worry if it’s no good – you’ll get better. A lot of encouragement, very little practicality.
Some bloggers tell you the most important element of writing is the main character, or the dialogue, or the setting, or the realism. Only write what you know. Don’t write from imagination alone. Research, research, research. But also, have fun! WTF?
I’ve struggled to put all this information together in a way that is easy for me to understand; that’s applicable to the way I think and work; and that actually contributes to me becoming a better writer.
Until recently, when I read an article in Writer’s Digest t – 15 things a writer should never do by Zachary Petit. Zachary managed to cut through my confusion with these 15 basic rules, from rule 1 Don’t think there is any single path or playbook writers need to follow to rule 8 Don’t ever lower your guard when it comes to the basics (referring to spelling and grammar, etc). Zachary made sense, didn’t make me feel like I was doing it the wrong way, and was practical.
Despite my confusion, I have done well, so far, in making these rules, resources, and ideas work for me. I completed the first draft of a novel, which is now fermenting for a month before I begin editing. And I’m working on a five novella series. Yes. Despite my confusion, I have actually succeeded in writing.
What I would like to see, from writers and bloggers, are resources, guidance, and support around how you go about pitching your book to agents and publishers. How did these authors get published? Have they had the same agent and publisher for all their books? How did they get an agent? If they are self-published, how have they managed the publication and promotion? How are their sales? What kinds of promotional events do they run?
It’s one thing to write a novel. It’s a completely different thing to know what to do with it when it’s written.