Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When I say "Just Write"...

I've recently returned to social media with a vengeance and you might have noticed, because lately I've been writing quite a few posts inspired by events on other social media.

Mainly, the reason for this was that... well... Blogging really helps me when I have a lot to say.

Today is another one of these posts. Although a lot less angry because it wasn't sparked by someone being an idiot.

This time, it was sparked by a lot of first time writers who are being (naturally) lacking in confidence or even down-right insecure. It might be a bit more direct, though, in the interest in helping the new kids see the light faster.

One of them got annoyed because her every writing question got answered by: "Write it first", "Just write"'s cousin.

Others commented that they also got annoyed by that answer, because it was a cop out. Instead of a "real answer" we veterans just pat new kids on the heads and tell them to write.

Honestly, I can't say I blame them. But I do think the phrase is misunderstood.

So here I am, explaining my take on "Write it first" and "Just write", real answer style:

1. This doesn't encourage people to jump into a story unprepared. 


There are plotters, pantsers and hybrids out there, and my telling people in general to just write the damn story isn't a way to tell them all to become pantsers. It does, however mean that once you've start, that you should try your absolute best to finish that story. There are reasons not to finish a story. But you'll know them by the fact that you'll have a reason to shelf it without having to ask anyone else.

2. Just write = Suck it up and keep going. 


We writers have three serious enemies that always fight our attempts to get writing done: fear, inner critics and inner censors.

If you've written past that initial thrill of new inspiration, you'll know them well. What if I don't have what it takes to write this story? I can't possibly let that happen to my characters. This isn't good enough. I shouldn't want to be a writer. Who was I kidding? 

They never go away. And no amount of other people telling you you're good enough and that your story will come out fine will make them leave. The only way to beat them is to keep on writing regardless of what those voices say. 

You're welcome to complain about your doubts and insecurities, but all your true writer friends will tell you to suck it up, buttercup keep writing. This is, in fact, the strongest encouragement we have. We can't promise you that you'll get a million dollar book deal. Or that you'll even get a deal. But we can promise that you can finish a story. And that in itself is a huge accomplishment.

3. Stop over-thinking. 


This is actually what got me into writing today's post. I spent the past few weeks writing answers to questions like:

When is it okay to end a chapter? 

What are the pros and cons of writing in first person? 

I have this awesome idea about writing about this war people don't really know about it, but I'm changing it into a spec fic. But is it a good idea? 

And my current personal favorite: How do I avoid info dumps? How do I discretely disperse information throughout the story? 

Oh and: What should I write to manipulate the maximum amount of readers into reading my book?

New kids, I love you. I really do. I do my utmost to give you the tools you need to get those stories written. But you're never going to get that book done if you're constantly worrying about doing things just right so other people (who you don't even know) will think you're an awesome writer.

Write until you feel the chapter is done.

There are no pros and cons to writing a certain way. Only ways of writing that do or don't suit you.

If you love a story idea, it's a good idea. Now go turn it into a book.

Avoid info dumps by either not writing them, or by writing them and cutting them out later. And then you discretely disperse information throughout your story. COME ON. YOU ALREADY KNEW THIS!!!

And for the love of all that is holy. Stop worrying about manipulating millions into reading your book. Firstly, writers have no power over readers until they've already decided to buy and read your book. If you think that writing a certain story in a certain way will win you readers, you're wrong. If you're writing, thinking that it's the easy track to fame (as brought to my attention by your desire to manipulate millions into reading your book), you're wrong. Seriously wrong. Not only that, you're writing for the wrong reasons and therefore doomed to fail unless you change your thinking.

There is no one recipe for writing success. Only this: If you focus on your story and actually write what you love, in the way you love to write it, you'll find at least some measure of success. Eventually. But know that money probably won't be it. Face it. Love it. Write without worrying about it. Takes off a lot of pressure and makes writing a lot more fun.

If you can think of a best seller in our time, odds are there are a lot of people who didn't think it would do well. Those books' authors wrote them anyway. 

Go you and do the same.

Just write.

Perfection comes from editing anyway.

Writing veterans: what does "Just write" and "Write it first" mean when you use it?

55 comments:

  1. Love your last line about perfection coming from editing... That is so true. My first drafts are just brain blurbs thrown onto paper...hehe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha same here. I think we writers get a lot more done if we give ourselves permission to write badly in the beginning.

      Delete
  2. I throw myself into writing and worry about revising and editing later.

    My first novel took me so much longer to write than anything I write today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here. I think that once we finish a book and know what to expect, it's a lot easier for us to write the next ones. :-)

      Delete
  3. Just write.
    That's why I love free writing exercises as warm ups... where you just write... and write... and write... in response to a given prompt, and worry about everything after.
    It's uninhibited writing that stems from deep inside...
    Writer In Transit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also love drafting like that. Uninhibited writing definitely is the most productive way to write.

      Delete
  4. That's why I love writing by hand, it saves me from even thinking about editing or the right words - I just splurge onto the page. The 'problem' with new writers is they seem to think there's a secret to it, and there isn't!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here. I write by hand to keep those savage enemies at bay. ;-)

      Delete
  5. There is no power in the world to get people to read.
    And yes, over-thinking can mess you up big time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't even know why people think it's possible. :-/

      Delete
  6. This is awesome! And encouraging, even to an 18 year veteran of the writing life :)

    Info-dump: that's the most perfect term! I always tend to do that and I'm teaching myself how to let the pertinent information trickle into the story, not appear all at once! No one can promise you that anyone will read your story, but it is a huge accomplishment to complete one!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fantastic summary. When I was a newbie...it would have been helpful to read what you have in your post today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a newbie it has helped. I especially like the 'suck it up buttercup'. Think I'll telling myself that one.

      Delete
  8. Just write is the best advice because it's true. I find that when I sit my butt at the computer and suck it up the scenes just fly from my fingers and that fear and insecurity go scurrying out the nearest window. Like Nike says: Just do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you. Sometimes it just takes sitting down to write.

      Delete
  9. "Just write" is great advice. At least if you have a first draft (no matter how messy), you have something to work with.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "New kids, I love you. I really do. I do my utmost to give you the tools you need to get those stories written. But you're never going to get that book done if you're constantly worrying about doing things just right so other people (who you don't even know) will think you're an awesome writer."

    THIS. YES THIS.

    Which is why, i think, so many authors offer as their first piece of advice: Read. Read all the time.

    How can you know if you don't read?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. No use trying to write if you don't read first.

      Delete
  11. What a great post. I never thought about that seeming like a cop-out answer, but I get what they mean.
    Early on in my writing journey I got to hear Donna Jo Napoli speak. She said in her first draft if she can't come up with the right word she just uses the most basic. Sad, happy, mad, etc. And that's what 'just write' means to me. If you get stuck on a line, just write something and move on. You can fill in the 'right' way to say it later. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the way I write too. If I can't find the word, I use something else until I can remember.

      Delete
  12. As one of those newbie writers, I accepted a while ago that Just Write It is critical. I don't know how many times I have read about other writers editing and editing and editing again. However, if you don't have rough first draft, you have nothing to edit. It is in the editing that your WIP really begins to shine.

    As for the Info Dumps, I read on another blog how someone overcome it with this advice: always write in the moment. If you stay in the moment, you tend to avoid info dumps. As your character knows it, feels it, thinks it, write it. That made a lot of sense to me. I think that it has helped with the info dumping since I started thinking and writing that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I never thought about handling info dumps that way, but it makes perfect sense.

      Delete
  13. Ahh just what I needed to read!
    I didn't even know I was questioning myself at the moment, just figured I was too busy to write, but I'm reading this post and I'm like.. yes, yes, uh-huh, true! lol... I didn't feel stumped BUT now I feel inspired. Loved this:

    "Face it. Love it. Write without worrying about it."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad to read that. Good luck with your new book!

      Delete
  14. I always feel the key ingredient is love. If you love your story, that will come through--no matter how raw the writing is. The writing can always be refined. As can the story, but love cannot be manufactured. It's either there, or it isn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you. If the love isn't there, the writing feels dead.

      Delete
  15. Yes people always expect the vets to have all the answers. Sometimes you have to get off your keester and find your own. Just write damn it. *Grins*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. Most of us got where we are by finding answers on our own.

      Delete
  16. You said it very well. I used to want to write like Steinbeck, but you know what? I can't because I'm not Steinbeck. Each of us has to find our own voice in our own way. As far as I know there is no method for accomplishing that except... just writing.

    Write what you love. Write what you want to read. Forget everything else, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely. No one wants you to be someone else. You're the best you we have.

      Delete
  17. "Suck it up, buttercup" is one of my favorite sayings. :D Unfortunately I have to say it to myself often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha yeah I also love it, although I tend not to say it much.

      Delete
  18. When I think of "just write," I think of getting that crappy first draft down. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be written. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree there. It's better to write a crappy first draft to fix, than trying to fix something that doesn't exist. :-)

      Delete
  19. 'Just write' is great advice. It's so simple we doubt it when we start out and can easily forget it later. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. As we goes on, it becomes second nature.

      Delete
  20. Love this post. For me it means as long as I keep going anything can be fixed later. I keep working and everything gets worked out. Yes it takes effort and work, but I can fix it, as long as I keep writing.

    The advice is not just for newbies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. Nothing can be fixed if it doesn't exist on the page.

      Delete
  21. I couldn't agree more. Good post!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I really enjoyed reading this post! In all honesty, some of the questions you pointed out, I also have thought about in the past. The constant over thinking about certain aspects of my novel and how to make things a certain way stressed me out. As of recently, I did go through a few hurtles, but I'm back on my feet and still preparing my story!

    This post could be very helpful for not only novice writers but advanced also! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know people think along those lines and it's fine. I'm just pissy because every time I encouraged people to just write, they accused me of being unhelpful. :-/

      Delete
  23. Fantastic post! It is sometimes really hard to get past those self doubts, but only a few people ever finish a book. So if you have a complete manuscript, congratulate yourself. You've gone farther than most. Just write to get there. And write it first because, as you said, perfection comes later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. One of the rarest announcements we see is someone finishing their first book.

      Delete
  24. Hi Misha,

    I heartily concur. Personally, I don't write with any preconceived notions. Just go with it, relax and indeed, over thinking, if anything is going to make the writing seem forced.

    Take care and fulfilling writing, your way,

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. I always say that you should write for yourself first, and edit with an audience in mind. :-)

      Delete
  25. I wonder how people thought that they could manipulate other people into reading their books, hmmm... I especially agree with what you said about finishing a story. When I first started writing, I would start several stories but never finish them. It was always easier to start stories, of course, rather than to stay committed to them all the way through.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah it's easy to start writing when you're inspired, but the feeling fades and all you have left is commitment.

      Delete
  26. I've been writing for more years than I care to remember, and you'd have thought I would've learned all these lessons by now. But this is what I needed to hear--Suck it up, Buttercup! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm not actually a writer, but I've recently come up with an idea that won't leave me alone. I think I might eventually pay it some more thought later on, and I find this post completely helpful. Thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. I really do need to just write!!!! Always fascinated by your info!

    ReplyDelete
  29. "Just write" is a form of commitment. One of the toughest things to do is finish a draft, and the only way to get to the end is to keep writing. It's a way to see if you love it enough to continue chasing the dream...'cause it can be a tough road. It's also a great way to learn!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! I love to read what you think.

Feel free to ignore the check-box saying "Prove you're not a robot." My word verification is off, but I moderate comments to posts older than two weeks.