Friday, September 23, 2011

How I Write-- What have you learned?

This week's question: What have you learned by writing?

Writing for me has always been a way to get out my thoughts onto page, to tell the story of all the voices in my head. I've always been a daydreamer. What else is there to really do on an hour long bus ride to and from school growing up? Oh sure I read, but I also loved to just stare out the window and let my imagination get the better of me. I'd dream up 'stories', of characters and conflicts.

I never thought about writing seriously, not until grade 8 when I decided to try my hand at it. By grade 9 I was writing the WIP I sold to Carina. Yes, it took me a long time. BUT, it taught me persistence. I've put stories aside before. I gave up on them when I lost interest. With this particular story, the characters were just THERE. Yes, the story has evolved a lot. The first rounds I was extra critical on characterization. They seemed flat. And if I saw that, then my readers surely would, so I spent the time when I would read books of published authors studying them. Studying how the characters were developed and what made them tic and come to life. Once I felt I somewhat had a grasp on this, I decided I couldn't plot. At. All.

So... I worked to change that.

The thing with being stubborn (just ask my family, I'm told that all the time), is that I don't let go of things I'm passionate about. For me, this book was IT. It was important to me in a way no other story had. So I persisted and I re-wrote it at least 6 times. The thing about re-writing, I learned what worked and what didn't. Yes, I could have simply shoved it under the bed with the dust and the books I didn't want anyone to know I was reading, but I couldn't do that. I spent years reading articles on how to write. I don't doubt that it's needed to an extent, but I learn better by actually doing it. You can read about how to create characters or plotting all you want, but if you spend all your time doing that, then you aren't writing and you aren't growing as a writer in your own right.

For more on what my friends have learned while writing, click on their links!

Danie Ford
Emma G. Delaney
Kimberly Farris
Kristen Koster


  1. For the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking of permanently shelving Bridesmaid because I've been working on the story for what seems like forever. But after reading your post, I'm not going to keep working on it.



  2. Kim,

    Will be or not? If you love the story, and you see the potential, don't give up. I know there are people in the camp to shelf it. It was a learning experience, blah blah. Honestly, I come from the point of, yes it was a learning experience but unless it's total utter crap, why give up? You got this far writing it, why would you walk away from it? Putting it down for a bit is fine. Going back can make you see it in a new light. But to shelf it forever? I am not in that band camp. (stubbornness again) If the story is really important to you, keep at it. Rome wasn't built in a day, as they put it.


  3. Alexia,

    I made a typo in my earlier comment. I meant, I'm NOT going to stop working on Bridesmaid.

    Your post encouraged me to keep at it. I've spent too many hours on this story to throw in the towel now. Plus, I really love the characters. I'm going to let it set for the rest of the year and then go back to it in January.


  4. Alexia, good points about the persistence and the need to be stubborn at times. I really like the reminder about studying vs writing -- I really think that's why my soak things in / then dump things out on the page cycle works so well. Each cycle of writing new words moves my skills forward a bit.

    Kimberly, I think I started BHT soon after you started Bridesmaid. I've dropped it and come back to it several times. I think I'll need to drop it again for a while and come back and do a rewrite at some point before I seriously start sending it out in the world. The characters from that one and Revealed keep bugging me to tell their stories, but most days I don't feel I'm yet ready to do them the justice they deserve. Usually I can recognize that as the fear it is and ignore it. But other days I believe it. Four years and counting -- it's all a learning experience, but those characters will not leave me alone. What's Devon think about the shelf? I can't see her going quietly. ;)

  5. Kristen,

    You're right, Deven wouldn't go quietly to the shelf. She'd come up with some crazy plan that would go terribly wrong. lol

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. Phew! Glad to see that you'd typo'd before my post went through. LOL