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The Worst Writing Advice EVER – that helped me finish my novel

writewild:

I post so many writing tips (even though I’m not posting much currently – sorry about that) and many of them actually helped improving my writing – but no matter how often I read how you should just ‘get up and write’ and ‘just WRITE EVERYDAY’, it wasn’t that simple. 

So here are a few truths I’ve learned during the process of writing my first novel (and actually finishing it! HELL YES) – possibly the worst writing advice ever that somehow helped me (so maybe it’ll help you, too):

1. Forget your book – give up on it 

This sounds crazy, I know. But it was the best thing I did. If you and I are in any way similar, than you probably get crazily excited about an idea and start writing like a maniac. You manage to write a few chapters. If you’re really crazy, you even get half of the book done! But then that dreadful feeling starts: what the hell now? You’re officially stuck. You try to keep going but it’s SO difficult to even get 100 words out.

So, yes, I gave up and basically forgot about my book. To be honest, I started writing another one. After a few months I went back to the first one and read through everything I’d written and BAM! Suddenly, the scenes that I’d had such a hard time writing before were flowing out of me so easily, I couldn’t believe it. So this is a legit advice: Forget it. Move on. Write something else. And then go back to it – I noticed how easy it was after I’ve spent some time apart, because I couldn’t remember most of the stuff I’d written so it actually felt like someone else had written a book and left it there for me to finish.

2. If you don’t want to write, don’t write. 

This is probably the one thing that I’ve never read in any of those writing tips I’ve posted. Everyone says to write even if you don’t feel like it and so on. Well, I tried. It didn’t work. So what did I do? I did make myself start: I wrote a few sentences and MOST of the time that was all it took: suddenly, I was actually writing two pages. But sometimes I just couldn’t go on – and I didn’t. Whenever I started to feel like I just didn’t KNOW how to continue – I didn’t. I stopped. 

I don’t know if it’s some psychological thing, but this seems to have decreased the level of pressure I put on myself or, I don’t know, made the whole process a bit more fun? I just know that actually allowing myself to NOT force anything helped me  – I wrote everyday and finally finished my first draft.

3. Procrastinate as hell

Yep – and while you’re at it, try being your own biggest fan. This sounds stupid but if we don’t fangirl over our own work who’s going to, right? So, whenever I felt like I couldn’t write, I started to procrastinate in an ‘inspirational’ kind of way: I created covers for my novel; I created playlists for each character or chapter (tumblr-fanmixes-style, you know); I created moodboards for characters on Pinterest. You get the idea. I procrastinated like a pro, but it did help me because it made me feel so very excited for my book.

4. Let your character’s lead the way

This may sound very weird. But I swear that the end of my novel kind of wrote itself. I had planned something entirely different and somehow that didn’t happen. Instead, I felt this wrongness whenever I wanted to write what I had originally planned – it just didn’t feel right, so I kept deleting everything. Once I started writing whatever came to mind – and by doing that, abandoning that original idea – things started making much more sense. It was as if my character’s refused to go with my plan – and created their own ending. Weird? Maybe. But what do I care! It’s done!

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Do you have unconventional writing advice? I’d love to hear about it!

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Author: Penny Wilder

Penny Wilder is a queer human who writes and reads far too many books. She lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and four cats. Her favorite thing to do at the end of a very long day is to curl up with her tablet and read. She does bookkeeping for nonprofits by day, and by night moonlights as a blogger, artist, illustrator, actor, director, performer, and also sometimes as a business manager for a fledgling theater company. (Not all at once though, because that would be crazy!) She has spent a good deal of her life working in theater; either onstage as a performer, or backstage doing just about every job imaginable. Her love of writing dates back almost as far as her love of reading.

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