Writing my first manuscript was a thrilling experience. It opened up a lot of self-discovery; some of which was astonishing, to me at least. Here are a few things I learned about myself and the writing process:
- Writing isn’t as scary or time consuming as I originally thought. I had participated in National Novel Writing Month (or Nanowrimo for short) in which you write 50,000 words in 30 days. After the first five days, in which I struggled and cheated to get my 1,600 words out, I had a sudden breakthrough. Suddenly, I was writing 5,000 words a day, and I often had to stop myself so that I could get some sleep! Once you open the floodgates of creativity, you won’t be able to stop the ideas from coming out.
- I have way too much spare time. In addition to my successful Nanowrimo run, I then spent the next two months pouring over my manuscript-editing, adjusting, adding, tweaking, reading and rereading. I could (and did) spend hours and hours revising, yet I still went to work everyday, I kept my house clean, and managed to cook dinner for my husband every night. Oh, and I managed to get 6-10 hours of sleep every night, too.
- Commas are the devil. With this realization also came the knowledge that my last official English class was over 12 years ago. *shudder* Looks like I might need one of those style manuals after all …
- Share your ambitions with everyone. I had originally started telling friends and co-workers that I was going to write my novel to keep myself accountable. (So I’m a procrastinator, who isn’t?) However, by sharing my plans I managed to find some hidden gems. First, one of my co-workers happened to be a professional editor (woo!), and one of my World of Warcraft guild mates turned out to be the most wonderful, valuable, supportive, and helpful beta reader an author could ask for.
- I’m a needy writer. Thank goodness I found Murph, my beta reader, because I ended up needing him to hold my hand during the entire process. I’ve lost count of the number of emails I sent him asking, “What do you think of this? Does this make sense? I think I’m going in a completely useless direction and I’ve lost the light please help meeeeeee … ” Fortunately, he found my agonizing amusing, and we’re still good friends.
- My music choice when writing is … unusual. Most authors (at least the ones I’ve read about) like instrumental or soundtracks. I liked listening to my Linkin Park/The Cranberries channel on Pandora. It was like reliving my high school years, hehe. That said, I don’t really think I paid a ton of attention to the music. I just found that the words came easier when I had some background noise. I should try writing a chapter of the new book with something classical just to see how well it works …
- Your story will come alive. I always used to scoff at authors who said their characters gained a life of their own, or their story took an unexpected turn. After having written my own, I can attest: This is true. I actually have written proof of it, too. Back in the early days when I was writing, Murph followed along (for word count) and asked my to clarify something. I typed up a 5,000 word synopsis/outline detailing how the story would go. Lets just say, the book did not end as I had predicted. By a long shot. Not only that, but I had one particular passage where I was trying to get one character to do something, and he refused! It wasn’t like the character stood up and said, “I’m not doing that.” (Though my imagination certainly envisioned him doing so.) Instead, it was one of those situations where you type the same like sixteen times and can’t get it to look/read/feel right. As soon as I decided to have him do something else the problem went away. Let me tell you, it was creepy as hell.
- Social media is important. Yup, that’s why I’m here writing for all you lovely people. Now that I’ve started the publishing process, I’ve realized how important it is to get the word out. How is anyone going to find my book if someone doesn’t tell them to read it? Especially if I choose the self-publishing route. Plus, I can use my readers to get feedback on my novel titles, ideas, character names and other assorted information. It all goes back to sharing. You never know what hidden jewels you will find!
- Breaks are important, too. As much as I liked obsessing over my novel, some of my best ideas came when I let my subconscious work itself out while I read other books, played Warcraft, or watched movies. In fact, two of my favorite chapters came to me in my dreams!
- Write for the right reasons. This sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve read and watched a few videos in my research into publishing that made me laugh. When I first started, like most other authors, I had dreams of being the next Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer. But- although I want to be one of those big-name authors, it isn’t because I want to make millions of dollars. Don’t get me wrong, a six-figure book deal would be amazing, but it isn’t why I write. I want to be the type of author that changes lives; an author that gives some kid, teenager, or adult a living, breathing new world to explore and escape to. I want to be the type of author that sparks a child’s dream for their future. My hero and idol is the late Anne McCaffrey. I started reading her books in high school, and I was amazed at the richness in her worlds, and her ability to create multiple universes for her characters to live in. She was the one who sparked that dream for me. Her books were the first ones to make me go: “This is fantastic! I want to be able to do something just half as good as this.” The best part about this particular reason to write? I already lose myself in my story, so in my eyes: I’ve already succeeded.