This post is a companion piece to yesterday’s The DONT’S of writing. (Because it never pays to be too negative!) Now that we’ve discussed what traps to avoid, what are some healthy habits to develop?
- DO your research. This might sound basic, but it’s important that you know what you’re writing about. And hey, maybe this is just me the ubernerd, but research can be fun at times. One of my favorite things to research was how inks and paper were made in the late medieval/early modern period. Learned some cool things!
- DO give yourself a break when a scene’s not perfect. None of my scenes have EVER been perfect the first time around. I’ve looked back on some of them and cringed. Nowadays when that happens, rather than doubt myself and my abilities, I pull up the screen and do one of two things: find a way to make it better, or cut it. (Sometimes the first involves the second, at least to some degree.)
- DO be true to yourself as you write. Write what you would want to read, what you care about, and what touches your soul. Writing a book is a long and lonely task. If you do it to please someone else, you won’t make it to the end. It’s got to be about you. Write something that YOU find interesting and that will teach you about yourself.
- DO develop the habit of writing at the same time each day. This is standard, common advice for a reason. IT WORKS.
- DO remember what the editing phase is for. This goes hand in had with number two, I think. Keep in mind that the writing phase comes first. The editing phase comes after. If you try to combine the two you are in for a world of frustration and hurt. You will make slow, stumbling progress through your novel, grow discouraged, and doubt both the strength of your writing and your ability to finish. The purpose of your writing time is to WRITE. You can tweak, fix, and perfect things later.
- DO let your characters guide and surprise you. You might be writing FOR you, but you’re writing ABOUT other people (unless you’re a memoirist, I guess. Then disregard this.) Your characters have their own lives; their own wishes and desires; their own frustrations, fears, talents, and weaknesses. Get to know them and let them tell you how they would react to the situations in your novel. That’s the only way to have believable, well-developed, and interesting characters people will care about.