So if you’re not a writer, you may not know that November is officially NaNoWriMo month. What is that? Well, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s really a way for writers to band together, give their writing some importance in their lives, stop letting the editing monster slow them down and get a really good solid start on a new piece of work.
One of the fabulous editors at Orbit, Dongwon Song (who is not my editor, but did edit FEED by Mira Grant) wrote a great post last week about how people shouldn’t attack the event (read it here since he can explain it himelf better than I can). It’s funny how often writers do attack each other. If you write fast, you must be a hack. If you write slow, you just aren’t trying hard enough, if you write genre fiction you stink, if you write whatever you’re… well, you get the picture.
I’ve been writing a long time, publishing multiple books under another name (not fantasy/zombies) and I’ve learned a few things. So if you are a writer, here is what I know:
1. If you want to be a writer, write. That’s the main thing you have to learn. Write. Write some more. Then write again. A NaNoWriMo type challenge is definitely a great way to get yourself jump started, write without fear and just go for it.
2. There really are rules. Each genre has basic concepts, there are grammar rules, there are rules of professionalism in how you submit and interact. You should learn them.
3. The rules can be broken. It’s just easier to break them effectively if you know what you’re doing when you’re doing it.
4. Writing is hard. Especially if you are writing with an eye toward publication, the industry is very tough. Money is very small in most cases. Success is hard to grasp and then it’s sometimes fleeting. It’s really easy to compare yourself to other writers and that is always a big trap of pain and crying and drinking.
5. Writing is awesome. There is nothing better than writing a sentence and thinking, “Damn, I’m good.” Or finishing a book and knowing you put your all into it. Or getting lost in a scene while you’re writing it. Or having someone email you and tell you they loved your book and it made them laugh/cry/puke/scream/whatever. It’s an amazing, wonderful job.
6. You can’t do it wrong. Rules aside, whatever gets your butt into the chair and gets you writing pages is the “right” way to do it for you. If you are a plotter and that works for you, then that’s right. If you can’t plot but you don’t write yourself around in circles and drive yourself nuts, good job, you’re doing it right. If you write fast and can push out tons of pages in a sitting, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you write slow, but you get the pages done even though it’s like pulling teeth sometimes, that works, too. If you love writing fantasy or thrillers or romance, you are not a hack. You are writing mainstream fiction that millions of people LOVE and buy.
So don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Now go write (or read if you’re not a writer).