Oh ho ho! It’s Monday which means it’s time for another round of Meditative Monday. And today’s post is all about writing issues that come up, but aren’t always talked about whether it’s about the writing itself, before you set pen to paper, or after you write ‘The End’.
Understanding Of Your Story Only Comes After Its Written
Because the moment you start typing that draft is the moment all of your shortcomings and blindspots will splatter against the wall.
It’s very easy to feel comforted by the outline we just typed up or the table talk we just had with our friends, but chances are, unless you just never generate ideas, new things will come up, old things won’t fit. And stressing about this while you’re writing is an energy sinkhole.
It’s because we average joe’s don’t make very good fortune tellers and also the creative process is still a vague strange thing that science is still trying to wrestle with.
The good thing about this is that it means that you don’t really have to sweat your draft while you’re typing. If I would’ve known this instead of getting hung up on where a novel was going, I’d probably be on novel 4 or 5 by now and not 2.
Send Your Novel To Yourself Before You Publish It
No, I’m not talking about that pseudo copyright thing of sending your book to yourself in the mail (btw, don’t do that, get the real copyright).
I’m talking about sending your novel to your e-reader, especially before you hit that publish button. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know why the word formatting can trigger me like no tomorrow. Amazon’s Look Inside has scarred me for life and let me tell you…
There is nothing that ruins your day/ week/ month quite like repeatedly seeing Amazon shred your newly published book that you worked hard on until it looks as presentable as a pile of skunk doo-doo.
This is crippling if it happens during your novel’s New Release period because you’re wasting your thirty days of special days of special attention on fixing a problem that can easily be overlooked.
You might be thinking, “Well I’m getting it formatted by a professional, so I don’t have to worry about that.”
Always double and triple check yourself, no matter who does it.
People are human. And our human word processors usually don’t agree with the websites we upload to. There’s tidbits of code that we don’t see and don’t understand until you see the jumbled mess your novel turns into on the product page.
But on a less dramatic note, it can also be used as a revision help tool.
If you’re me and your novels span over 100,000 (or in the case of my current novel, it’s going on 290,000), the advice of ‘print it out’, is not happening. Other people need the printer as badly as me, and on top of that…
That method never felt helpful to me. In most cases, I just wind up reading off my computer anyway. And mind you, my computer is probably the least comfortable thing to read on.
My kindle on the other hand, doesn’t take up extra space and it’s my most preferred device. I can check my notes and highlights easily and I usually always have it anyway. This way, I can go through the novel and trim it down a little before I consider printing it for further revisions.
Knowing this could’ve saved me a whole tree and two weeks of my life.
Don’t be me please…
‘Just Writing’ Doesn’t Cut It For Good Growth
Don’t get me wrong. Writing books will make you better at the act of writing books. Writing will technically make you better at writing.
But if you want to be very good at your craft, as in more than just okay, ‘just writing’ won’t help you very much, except to finish the draft you’re working on. Vague experience will not help you much either.
There is a very interesting study on this…
In Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, a study was conducted on physics professors and their students to see what makes an expert.
And as it turns out, the physics professors, even though they had their degrees, research, and experience, did not outperform their students. In some cases, they actually made the same mistakes their students were making on novice-level problems.
So as it turns out, years under your belt actually doesn’t mean a thing…
By itself. There is a type of experience that does mean a thing.
Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness looked at two more studies, one involving singers of different skill level (amateur to professional) and one involving violinists.
In both groups, they noticed something interesting: the amateurs practiced however they liked and usually stuck to doing what they found fun, but as they got to the professional and world-class performers they saw more of the performers doing targeted exercises to improve certain skills instead of random practice.
And incase you were wondering, the participants were practicing for the same amount of hours a day, so it’s definitely not a matter of just putting in your 10,000 hours to be a master.
And this is why I don’t buy ‘just write’ or ‘just fix it in editing’. If your base writing skills are not that great, you can’t put it all on an editor to save you. They can only work with what you’ve written after all. They can offer suggestions on interesting developments you could pursue, but the chances that your book will come out sounding like a Pulitzer or Hugo Award Winner if you’re nowhere near that level yourself is very slim.
Some people could care less if they never improve as long as they can pull the Benjamin Franklin’s out of their bank account and that’s perfectly fine. Personally, I feel like the skill will make it easier to get and save the Franklins in the long run. And even more than that, when people pick up my books, I want it to be because my writing gave them a vivid sensory and emotional experience that they can’t forget.
This won’t happen if I skimp on practice. In fact, whenever I skimp, I actually notice my skills getting worse.
But this of course really begs the question of where exactly do you want your writing career to go. I’d add this to the list of things that are here, but unfortunately, I’ve spent enough time here already.
Until next time~