Monday, February 6, 2017

Everything I Know About Writing

Twenty-five-ish years of writing novels and short stories;
Five-ish years of writers’ conferences, conventions, and classes;
Three-ish years of interviewing writers, artists, and nerds.

I finally know something about writing. I know, I know. Took me long enough. But this is something so important and complex that it needed to be researched for YEARS.

Here’s what I’ve learned: 

  • Writing forces you to make weird faces so you can describe them. This usually happens when you’re in a public place.
  • Talking to critique partners often feels like going to a support group for addiction recovery. “Hi, I’m Michelle, and I’ve been writing since I could hold a crayon.” [Insert people making appropriately sympathetic, concerned faces here].
  • The first draft is, and always will be, perfect as long as you don’t let yourself think about it*.
  • The second draft is, and always will be, possibly the worst thing you’ve ever written*.
  • Your furbaby can offer some of the best plothole-filling advice in the galaxy—you just need to be a couple of shots in (whiskey, wine, Kombucha, OJ…) before you understand any of it.
  • No matter how often you remind your characters that they live IN YOUR HEAD, they will continue to act completely independent from you. Especially during tense scenes when you have spent HOURS briefing them over exactly which actions they need to take.
  • Sometimes you will love something, and someone else will think it’s pretty much on the same level as sliced bread. Nice, but not revolutionary. This is normal and should be encouraged.
  • Nothing you write will show up in the reader’s head the way you expect it to. Ever.
  • No matter how much research you do about what to write, how to write it, and the industry, nothing beats learning things the hard way.  

 Michelle is still learning.

*IMHO, mind you. I know of a few people who detest their first drafts. I do not understand this. Why are you writing it if you hate it? But really. WHY.

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