As part of the #wipmarathon community (they're awesome! Check them out on Twitter) I have been doing a monthly check-in commenting about word counts, what distracted from writing that month and what I learned that month. I've done a lot of learning this year and thought I'd share some of my favourite lessons today.
1) I am going to fall in and out of love with my characters and that’s okay. I can actually still write even if I’m not currently in love with said characters. Sometimes, it’s better to be a little more removed from the story, better able to see its strengths and weakness and write accordingly.
2) I’m a perfectionist and this is not a bad thing. So that 200 word paragraph took me close to half an hour to edit and get just right – so what? Now it’s as close to perfect as I can make it and that’s what each and every sentence needs to be.
3) Writing a synopsis before having written the book is as excruciating as it is enlightening. The whole process was painful but it really helped, especially helping me connect the dots between plot points I had in the outline and fleshing out character arcs. This may be something I adopt as common practice for all new works.
4) Thinking about a book is sometimes as good as writing. Having not had the time to actually set down words forced some much needed distance between me and the work. I was getting a little bogged down in the plot and having had this time to ruminate on the story, I’ve managed to figure out where the problems lie.
5) Write the thing that scares you. Face that fear and get inside your character’s soul no matter how dark it seems. As an author, I have a duty to tell that character’s story and I can’t do that if I’m too afraid to write authentically.
6) Write to your strengths, but don’t ignore your weaknesses. Each new work is a chance to improve your craft.
7) As soon as you stop trying to come up with good lines, the good lines happen. The more I stress about my prose being prosaic or character quotidian, the more prosaic and quotidian they become. The instant I stop thinking about it and just write, these little nuggets pop onto the page and moments between awesome characters just happen. I think I need to hand over the reigns to my Muse more often.
So there you have it. These were some of the best if not always the easiest things I learned about writing and my writing process this year. Regardless of what's happening publishing wise, I know it's been a good writing year when I can look at where I started in January and where I am in December and see the improvement in my craft.
How did 2014 go for you? Learn anything new or interesting?