GOOOOOOD MORNIN! How the hell are you? Probably not very good, you’re probably upset with me because you look forward to my blog posts every day and there wasn’t one yesterday! I do apologize. Time got away from me and it did not happen.
HOWEVER, it is happening today and I am excited to bring you my top five list of things I wish I had known when I started writing! I have been doing so, on and off, for years, but for the last year and a half or so I have been fully committed.
I have learned more in that time that I could have ever imagined. I am thankful for the experiences that I have had on this journey so far and I learn more every single day. It truly is an amazing thing to be obsessed with!
Quickly though, for the writers, I hope NaNo is going well for you. It is coming to an end! Only 10 more days left including today! Time to buckle in and bang out some massive word counts! Especially if you are behind like I am….its okay though! I got this and YOU freakin got this.
Alright, who’s ready for the list? You? Good, me too, lets get rolling. First though, a quick warning.
These are MY top five and I will tell you now that many writers will not agree with some of these, so this should be interesting! Enjoy!
1. THERE ARE NO RULES
This is number one for a reason, because realizing this is the key to getting the momentum going in this game. Once you accept that there are no rules, no lines to stay within, you can truly let your imagination run and create something amazing!
I say that I have been writing, on and off, for years and that is true. I wrote my first book in second grade. It was about 15 pages and self-illustrated. My first attempt to write a real novel happened half way through my senior year of high school.
I got three chapters in and quit. I was experiencing “writers block”, doubt, anxiety and stress because I was trying to follow a set of non-existent rules. I had to write this way, in this genre, to this page count, with these big words, for this specific type of reader.
I tried again in college and again, these things pushed me off my path. However, my love for writing has come back again and again, and finally, at the end of 2018, I finished my very first novel. It took me over a year to write. Why? Because I struggled half way through it before coming to the realization that I was following rules that didn’t exist!
At the end of this month I will have written two books in two and a half months, both longer and more detailed than my first because I no longer have rules to follow. I just write. I let it flow and so far, it just keeps coming!
2. YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ A LOT TO BE A GOOD WRITER
If you’re a writer reading this, easy now, take a breath. Don’t go grabbing the torch and pitchfork just yet, let me explain.
I do love to read, and I do so almost daily, mostly audiobooks as I spend quite a lot of time in the car. HOWEVER, I do not believe that it is essential to be a good writer. I will say that since I have started writing pretty much daily, I have been reading more and more.
I think it CAN be beneficial to your craft as a writer, but not required. As a matter of fact, it can actually cause you to be derailed if you aren’t careful, here’s why.
Any story we tell has almost certainly been told before. Obviously, it hasn’t been told our way. It hasn’t been told in our voice or from our experiences. So, Porter, what’s the issue then?
The issue is you will come to a point where you have a really good idea, an idea you are excited about, and idea you are convinced the world needs to read. Then you’ll read something because most writers tell you that if you want to be a writer you have to read a lot, and you will come across a story that is essentially the same as the idea that you had.
Incorporating logic here, that doesn’t mean don’t write your story, because your story, although similar in premise, is going to be totally different. It is still a great idea and the way you are gong to lay it out is going to be wonderful, but most will not end up writing the story.
Why not? Because they can’t get beyond the fact that the story has been told before, no matter how different it is from their idea. In turn, what could have been a tremendous, life-changing story has now been lost forever.
Another point I would offer is that I did not read much when I first started writing, all the way up until I wrote my first full novel. Up until recently, in fact, I haven’t been an avid reader, if for no other reason than I just can’t find the time. I spend most of my extra time writing!
I have definitely gotten to be a better author which each book, but I attribute most of that to the writing itself. It is no different than anything else. The more you do it, the better you will become.
Again, I am not saying don’t read. I would never say that, read to heart’s desire, it is a wonderful thing. Without readers, we wouldn’t have writers and that would be a shame! I am simply saying it is not a requirement if you want to write so I don’t want you to feel like you have to go out and read hundreds of books to be a writer if you don’t want to, because you don’t.
3. IT DOESN’T REQUIRE AS MUCH TIME AS PEOPLE THINK
When I first started, the thought of writing an entire book was daunting to say the least. It was because of this that it took me over a year to write my first book. I went through it thinking every single letter and space had to be perfect.
If I did get on a role with my word count, I would slow down thinking I was going to fast and that fast equaled bad quality.
If I have one regret regarding writing, it is that I took so long to write that first book. The reason why is that by the end of November – 10 more days – I will have written two novels in two and half months, both of which are longer than and , I consider to be, better than the first. I will have another complete by the end of December, it is already half finished.
How many books could I have under my belt by now if I had written is as quickly as I was capable of? A FREAKIN LOT! That’s how many!
Always gotta throw in the sidenote that if you are a naturally slow writer, DO NOT try to write fast. Follow your process whatever that is. However, if you are a faster writer, go with it. Don’t think you have to slow down because it “should be taking you longer”. I have heard that quite a few times from people who have written zero books.
4. WRITER’S BLOCK DOES NOT EXIST
Yeah, Porter is putting out all kinds of controversial stuff today. Most people will tell you that there is this thing called writer’s block, an insidious effect that results in a writer not being able to come up with the words to put on the paper.
Here’s my take, it’s a made-up term. Writers talk about writer’s block as if its this awful thing that happens TO THEM. The fact of the matter is that a lack of ideas or creativity on a work in progress is self-induced!
I have experienced this mysterious sickness before and it kept me from completing my project. Why? Because I wasn’t excited about the project. I wasn’t committed to the project. I was writing what I thought people wanted to read, not what I found exciting.
When you write for yourself first and write about the things that actual interest or excite you, there is no lack of anything. You are motivated to write and creative by nature because you yourself want to find out how the story ends!
In my opinion, writers block is either the devil child of writing the wrong thing, or trying too hard to get it perfect. The most important thing is getting the words on the paper. Just start writing. It can always be fixed later, but if you never get to actually putting the words down, it will never get finished!
5. SELF PUBLISHING IS THE WAY TO GO
One more polarizing statement today! Self-publishing is the freakin way to do it. I tried the traditional route and I did a previous blog post on that, so I won’t go into a bunch of detail, but if for no other reason that the sake of getting books released in a timely fashion, self-publishing all the way.
I don’t see myself as a control freak, but I absolutely like to control things when I can, especially when it comes to writing books. I want the final decision on the content, title, cover, promotion and distribution of my work!
When I finished my first book, I was dead-set on getting it traditionally published because I had the mindset that everyone else has, self-published authors aren’t real authors. The truth of the matter is, however, that self-published author ARE real authors and more than that, they are REAL business people.
A self-published, or indie author, start out by writing a book which is a damn-near full time job as it is, that takes hours and hours of time. After that, they get to invest their own money into the editing, formatting and cover design of that book.
Once those things are handled, the fun stuff begins. Promotion! They get to be the ones to spend months, if not years, building social media pages, mailing lists, and subscribers to ensure someone will actually read the book.
Then they get to do it all over again…and again….and again! They constantly have to create new content for their readers to consume! Now, personally, I love all of this. I love the work load and I love every piece of this game!
It’s a hell of a lot of work, but it is so worth it because you had a hand in every single piece of it AND you control the process!
There you have it. Those are my top five. I have more than that and I learn more every day that I do this, that is one of the reasons why I love it so much! I hope you found this helpful, and for the writers, do me a favor and answer this for me. What are your top five?