Writing Advice and the Ugliest Dog in the World

I was reading a particularly interesting blog called ROW80 (it's a challenge blog, check it out if you want! I might participate in their July challenge) and happened across this post. And it got me thinking, once again, about that person I once was who could sit down, write "the" and keep writing until "the end."

And where did that person go?

I finally figured it out. She packed up and left when I started reading all the writing books I could and trying to incorporate all of the advice I got into my writing style.

And it never worked out.

I soon learned that books on writing, that teach how to do it, that is, often tell you how the author of that particular book does it. It might work for you and it might not. Parts of it might work, other parts might not. Even seminars about writing tell you how to do it the way the teacher of the seminar does it.

When I started my new WIP, I went into it with all the goodies and techniques I learned in the Writing Boot Camp I attended with my BFF Angela Alsaleem. And I quickly stalled out.

(Sorry this post has so many sentences beginning with "and." That's just the way it's going to be today. It's Friday and I'm feeling rebellious!)

Anyway, I stalled out and I sat for, shoot, probably a couple weeks trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. It wasn't working for me. I finally decided to scrap any type of form or function for my first draft and just write. Once again I stalled out. I gave myself a million excuses to play video games during my writing hour (my lunch break at ye olde dae job) instead of work on my WIP.

Then I decided to write out a kind of summary (I mentioned doing this many posts ago) of my book, as if I was telling someone about a movie I just saw. Don't care about grammar, spelling mistakes, anything. Just sit and write it out. I finally got around to it.

It was the most fun I've had since I started this project. I wrote something like three pages (single spaced, no less) before I had to stop and help the hubby with dinner.

Since I had three pages of plot, I started thinking about my story.

Let me interrupt myself for a minute here and tell you I'm not a plotter. I'm a pantser. I also want to tell you a few of the main reasons why I love NaNoWriMo so much.

During NaNoWriMo, I eat, breathe, and sleep MY STORY. I live my story. I think about my story constantly and what kind of crazy antics I can put my characters through. When it isn't NaNoWriMo, I'm more cautious and kind with my characters. The best thing about NaNoWriMo is I just don't care. I write and write and I hardly ever use the backspace key (unless to fix a typographical error) and I just GO GO GO!

This dog gives me nightmares
 My husband does not believe this is the "right" way to write a novel (but really, what is the right way? I'll get back to that in a moment) because most of the time what comes out on November 30th is a 50,000 word peice of shit. Disorganized. Ugly. Like one of those Chinese Crested dogs that always win the ugliest dog in the world contests.

Not only that, but it takes me ages to edit because I don't even know where to start. When I do start editing, the task is so overwhelming I end up doing a complete rewrite.

Which is fine. Maybe that's just the way I work. Maybe I write an ugliest dog in the world first draft to get the basics of the story and what happens from point A to B to C and so on so forth.

And here we are, back to the main point. Read all the books on writing you want, but remember, there is no one right way to write a novel. Do what works for you. Figure out your own way and style and all that. As the post that inspired this post says: "Take writing advice with a grain of salt."

I think after all these years (I've been writing pretty consistently since I was 11) I've finally found my way to write a novel and I am so glad it does not involve outlining.

I hate outlining.

Swim, Fish, Swim!

Claire L. Fishback


I'm so similar to you in my writing. I hate plotting. It just makes me so anxious to start. It always feels to me like the people who hand-write an essay and then type it up. Just do it already! But then, I'm impatient. Very impatient. And also excitable. And I use the word 'and' a lot too, and I think that's ok.
I agree. Though sometimes if I'm stuck on screen I'll handwrite a scene. It helps to access a different part of the brain when you hand write. Brings on more creativity. Then I'll type it up. But I don't do whole drafts like that.

We have a bit in common! I'm also excitable. And a very anxious person. And and and... :)

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