Writer Life Lesson #22: Every Piece You Write is Important… Even Fanfiction

What are you writing right now? Is it a novel, an essay, a smut filled fanfiction, literally anything else where you put words on paper?

First: Good for you! You’re writing. 

Second: Don’t stop writing and don’t ever throw it away. It’s important to your writing craft. 

Every Piece You Write is Important. 

Think about your whole writing career for a second. Whether you started writing yesterday or two decades ago, you have a writing career. Now think about all the stories you have worked on, finished or not. 

Whether they were published, or thrown into a drawer never to see the light of day again, they are important to how you see yourself and how you build yourself as a writer. 

Even those fanfiction stories you wrote in middle school and high school. 

Just by writing, whether it’s a short story for school or a long novel series, or even something small like one great sentence, you are improving your writing career and getting one word closer to finishing that story, or chapter, or book, or even series. 

By trying things in stories, even if that story will never be published, or be seen by readers, you are improving and gaining knowledge of how to make things better the next time you decided to use that idea. 

That is why I love fanfiction. Both writing and reading it. It gives me a chance to try things in a novel I hope to eventually publish and see how people react to it without actually using it in my novel yet. 

An example would be the parallels between my novel and a fanfiction story I was writing last year. 

In my novel series, a character suffers from amnesia (clich√© ? Yes, but trying to make it less so). In the fanfiction, a character wakes up after an OD with amnesia, and I got to play around with how to both write and format flashbacks between the characters without it being too clunky or boring. 

Every piece is important to our growth as writers. 

Stuck on how to write something? Why not try fanfiction and see what happens!

Good luck in all your writing endeavors! 

Advertisements

Writer Life Lesson #21: Set a Timer and Write Like Mad

Writing is a difficult task, and yet the easiest task in the world. All you have to do is put words on paper, any words at all. That, unfortunately can become pretty complicated when you add in work, school, family time, shopping, etc etc etc. When you add in all the other aspects of life, writing can seem to become not as important as everything else. 

This week’s lesson: Set a Timer and Write Like Mad!

It sounds easy enough, right? Set a timer and just write. It doesn’t matter what, or where, or even how. As long as words are going down on the page, whatever the medium, you are making progress. 

I usually set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes to start with, since starting with a full hour or even 45 minutes can be very intimidating. This can change depending on your desire to write too, or how much time you actually have. Some days, all you’re going to get is five minutes, as unfortunate as that may be. 

This method works so well because it gets past that feeling of unworthiness and the fear of messing up and helps to break through to that sweet spot of writing where everything just falls into place. It will get you into the writing mood. 

I am off to do 10 minutes, anyone want to join?

Writer Life Lessons #20: Save Your Research for the Second Draft

Imagine how much work we would all get done if we stopped to research every little thing in our writing to make sure it was factually accurate. I don’t know about you, but I would probably get no work done. I would be so into researching and making sure that every little detail was painstakingly accurate that I would never get any words on the page.

This is why you should Save Your Research for the Second Draft.

Let the first draft be what it wants to be. Finish a whole project and then do as much research as your heart desires. Get your ideas down and then find out if they are accurate. If you research after every scene, not only will you be burned out on research, but on writing as well. Writers need to write.

Sometimes in first drafts, we don’t always know exactly what we want to happen, so we just write something that resembles a plot and then hopefully edit the hell out of it later. If we as writers edit every little detail and research as we’re writing the first draft, we might not even use that research in later drafts and that was time we could have been using to write.

Don’t get me wrong, small bits of research, like how to spell or phrase things, is fine. As long as it is under 5-10 minutes (depending on your internet/data speed), then I think it’s fine. It’s when you get sucked into researching for an entire afternoon that it becomes a problem. So try and keep research to a minimum and writing to a maximum.

Happy Writing!

Writer Life Lessons #19: Learn Everything You Can

Some of you may be looking at this title and thinking “Learning? But I’m a writer and I already know what I want to write about”. I understand where you are coming from, and I know how daunting it sounds to learn new things, but there is a reason for it.

Learn Everything You Can because you never know when it will come in handy for your next draft, or even in your own life. If nothing else, it’s interesting factoids at parties. Entertain yourself and your friends!

When you have a voracious appetite for learning, it makes writing easier. Not only do the ideas flow better, because you know more base information to come up with ideas, but you more easily can identify plot holes and glaringly obvious mistakes that might have made your reader put your book down and never pick it up again.

I’m not saying that you should go to college, or back to college, just because you want to write about astrophysics. I am saying learn what interests you. With the addition of the internet and smart phones, tons and tons of knowledge is at the tip of our fingers. If I wanted to learn Mandarin Chinese tomorrow, all I would have to do is type it into my nearest search bar and find the link that interests me most.

The learning doesn’t always have to be online either. There are books and podcasts and shows on television, groups in your area. If you can think of a way to learn, it is probably out there in your community. Anything and Everything is out there if you know where to look.

I take this lesson very personally, because as of now, I have been in school for most of my life and am just starting to break out into the workforce. I have learned a lot in all the schools that I have been in and all of the classes and units that I have taken. Even now, after I have graduated, I still am learning new things everyday. I want to know as much as possible, so my characters, my scenes, my writing can be as amazing as real life, and so I can help as many people as possible in my life.

Recently, I learned the basic information about computers and laptops, and brought my old laptop back to life with a few parts from my lovely boyfriend, and the assistance of my dad. It’s running great now, and it is what I am using to write this post right now. Sure, I could have just bought a new laptop, when I get a job, but I get the satisfaction of knowing that I fixed it and that I have a new experience and new knowledge to fall back on.

So go out and learn something new, and be proud of that knowledge!

And as always:

Happy Writing!

Writer Life Lessons #18: Finish Your First Drafts

Progress is measured in several different ways. If you are an athlete, progress is measured by how well you perform at your sport or sports. If you are an artist, progress is measured by your art portfolio. If you are a writer, progress is measured by words written on the page, and the amount of pieces you finish.

Can you call yourself a writer before you finish a piece? Of course. If you are putting words on the page, or the screen, or whatever you write on, you are indeed a writer. Can you call yourself an accomplished writer? Sure! But do you have anything to show for it?

When I first started writing, by hand, in pencil, in spiral-bound notebooks, I used to read unfinished pieces to my best friend. Yes, I was a writer,  and yes, I wanted to feel accomplished. Some of those drafts I finished, but a lot of them I just left him hanging, waiting on the next cliffhanger, for the next chapter or sometimes even word.

The lesson for this week is: Finish Your First Drafts.

There are tons of quotes out there about finishing what you start, how blank pages are ugly and how you can’t edit a blank page. All you have to do is google the words “writing advice” or “writing quotes” and you’ll get a ton of advice on how to write, how to finish your drafts, and even how to edit them.

Yes, this advice (Well most of it) is true. To move on, to mark your progress and to grow as a writer, you need to finish your first drafts, or at least move on to a new project if you get stuck. There is nothing worse than looking at an unfinished piece years later and thinking “Now where was I going with this?”.

Yes, you can leave your pieces and come back, but eventually you should try and finish them. This is an area where I need to take my own advice, I have about three times the amount of works in progress than I do works finished. The point is: I do intend to go back to them once I finish current projects, or if I don’t continue them I at least plan to rewrite.

Finish your first drafts, even if they suck, because there is always room for improvement. There are some pieces that I look at, from several years ago, and when I reach the point where I stopped writing for whatever reason, I wish there was more there. Often times I think “I wish I could remember where I was going with this”.

You can take a break from pieces, but at least write a little outline so you know where you left off, or even a little note in the margins that explains what happens next. You will thank yourself when you come back to it later.

Finish your first drafts so you can edit them and make them shine later.

Happy Writing!

Writer Life Lesson #17: Don’t Be Afraid to Write the Hard Stuff

Writing, like every other form of art, strives to make people feel something. This is usually accomplished by making the work feel real, using real emotions and situations that force the reader or the viewer or the participant to feel something. Sometimes, this means including things that hurt us, or make us feel vulnerable, dirty, or embarrassed.

There are several events, and people and objects that make us feel that way, and as many things as there are, there are a thousand more ways to write them. A lot of writing advice will tell you to avoid things that will make the reader cringe or feel offended, especially if it has to do with real events, especially if you can find a better way to further the plot and your story, but I say

Don’t Be Afraid to Write the Hard Stuff

Why? Because if we avoid the hard stuff, the triggers and the pain of events, then we cannot get past them as human beings. If we sugarcoat everything in our writing, make it fluffy and pretty and wrapped up, it will not seem real, or plausible. If we want our readers to feel something, we have to dig deep and find the things that hurt us and bring them forth.

I’m not saying force yourself to write what hurts you, or force it out for the sake of readers and the ability to sell. What I am saying is when you feel that you are ready, just try writing what hurts, what scares, or what embarrasses you. You might be able to get through it, or you might not.

I know all about what it feels like to write the hard stuff and the difficult things. When my mom passed away in 2013, it was hard for me to write about her, about any mothers. So in 2014, I decided I was going to write a story similar to my experiences for a short story contest. I started to write it, but it was just too difficult, so I put it away for later. Will I continue it? Maybe. Will I throw it out for good? No way!

Hard things to write could be anything. It could be murder, rape, incest, or any other various tragedies or joys. I’m not saying add these things, or anything like them, in for shock value, but if it is necessary to your plot, to motivate your characters, or further their development, then add it in. Write it to the best of your ability, and then edit it like hell for it to have the best impact.

Don’t be afraid to write because the themes or events scare you.

Go forth and write!