Healthy Writing 101

happy writer copyI have been known to moan loudly while working on novels. I mostly laugh out loud while working on picture books. Sane perspective: Why do I keep writing novels?

I’m not sure I know the answer. But it might be that nothing in this world is as satisfying, to reader-me, as connecting with a novel. I love thinking about the book I’m reading all day, finding moments here and there to read five pages, curling up in that imagined world at night.

january-resolutionsThis year I came to the table determined to be a healthy writer. So far, so good. (And yes. I am well aware that it is the first double-digit day in the very first month of the year. Shhhh.)

I’m working on my third novel. The first one was, amazingly, published! The second one is awaiting a reading by my agent. Those two were written in the most half-assed way imaginable. I can’t even describe it. I don’t want to remember it.

Looking back, I wish I’d paid more attention in grad school. I believed then I’d always be a short story writer and didn’t listen closely enough on the day that my professors must have shared their magic words about how to write a novel. It goes a long way toward explaining my recurring dream about attending graduate school again.

I have one resolution this year: to not drive myself crazy when writing a novel. So far, so good. Which is not to say that each day’s writing is good writing. Far from it.

calvin-kick-assBut I no longer have to come up with convoluted ways to get myself in that chair, writing. I used to send my family away and write eight thousand words a day for a three-day weekend (see earlier paragraph re/dysfunction). Now I’m working at an even pace, writing almost every weekday.

I always said outlines were not for me. But when I read about the Snowflake Method, I thought, some of that works for me. It makes more sense for me to think about the manuscript I’m writing in terms of sentences and paragraphs than Roman numerals. I’m not an outline girl (apologies to Mr. Scher, 9th grade social studies teacher, who really, really loved outlines), but that doesn’t mean I can’t pre-plan in a different way.

It’s been so long since I started a novel—both my first and second sat in a drawer for years before undergoing intensive revision. I remember this driving, desperate feeling of MUST INCREASE WORD COUNT. I was unhappy about the pace of my progress until I reached what I thought would be the halfway mark.

harrietBut this time around, I’ve been enjoying some of the things that happen early in the process, like the way my story surprised me by not being entirely about what I thought it was entirely about. It makes me fall in love, a little bit, with my subconscious.

And I’m proud, so far, of being not dysfunctional.

Do you have any writing resolutions or goals?

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1 Response to Healthy Writing 101

  1. I know what you mean about letting your story surprise you! I had that experience while writing my novel.

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