Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thirteen Random Birthday Thoughts About Writing...

…and life in general. It’s my birthday. I’m allowed! :)

1. There’s no great mystery to being a writer. A writer applies the seat of her pants to the seat of her chair, and writes.

2. First drafts are not the time to be careful. First drafts are designed to let you glop it all out, get the voices out of your head, unleash whatever beast that’s hounding you to get the story down on paper. It’s meant to be messy. Roll in it! Get your hands dirty!

3. Write every day. Even if all you can write is “I don’t know what to write,” do it. Over and over again. Fill pages with it. Eventually your brain will get bored and want to write something else.

4. Waiting for your muse to inspire you, IMHO, is just nuts. You want to be a writer? Siddown and get started. Your muse will just have to eat dust until it catches up with you.

5. Read. Widely and often. Never stop learning.

6. Observe.

7. Listen.

8. Don’t be afraid to try out any story idea. 100 pages that don’t pan out are still 100 pages of learning experience you never would have had if you hadn’t tried.

8a. Don’t be afraid. Period. I mean it. Just stop it right now. :)

9. All reviews are good. Really. So what if a reviewer hated your book. Did they spell your name right? Then it’s a good review.

10. On the other hand, learn to put aside your emotional attachment to your manuscript, and listen to constructive criticism. Your editor is on your side!

11. You’ll never make story perfect. There will always be a typo, a flaw, something accidentally left hanging. It’s possible to revise the life out of a story. Learn to let it go. (This is one I’m still working on—note the claw marks on my manuscripts where my editor had to tear them out of my hands!)

12. You will never please everyone. Write for yourself first, the markets second. Make the market follow YOU.

13. Learn to love your Shadow Self. She is the part of you that makes you—and your stories—fully human.

Now available: Wildish Things

More Thursday Thirteens!


N.J.Walters said...

Happy Birthday, Carolan, and great advice.

#8 is especially a great one. I had about 50 pages of a book I never finished. I've used the ideas from it in about three different novels that I've published. Nothing is wasted.

Carolan Ivey said...

Thanks, NJ! My toughest challenge has been (and still is) the last one - about accepting the Shadow Self. Nobody likes to think they have a dark side, but by pretending it doesn't exist, we aren't living full lives.

TJ Michaels said...

Yes! To all of it, but especially number 13.

Happy Birthday, darlin' !!


TinaGerow said...

Great post Carolan and happy birthday!!

Denise A. Agnew said...


All very good advice. Although I'll have to admit that I'm not writing for a week or two...just finished a manuscript that is 110,000 words first draft. Need to let in percolate and my brain needs some creative juice replenishment. But I've already got ideas for two other books, and I'm putting down ideas for those books before I forget them. :)

Denise A. Agnew

Denise A. Agnew said...

P.S. Happy birthday!!!

Denise A. Agnew