On 6 Pieces of Advice on How to Write Your First Novel

Woohoo!  I managed to get a blog post out before the end of the week.  It was getting iffy there for a while.  I’m also going to have to submit something to my writers group soon—who knows how I will make that happen.  Buuut, we’ll deal with that later.

So I follow the “Writer’s Digest” on Twitter, and they actually post some interesting and useful articles about breaking into the industry, tips for those focused on certain genres, etc.  True, they almost lost me when I saw the tweet “Breaking Into Corporate Writing: Contracts & Rates,” but I let it slide.  I am aware that was/is my life both before law school (financial journalist) and after (corporate lawyer), but this blog and my following Writer’s Digest is all about pretending to be a creative, artsy person.  You know, my secret life as creative writer?  So I wasn’t cool with that tweet at all.  But back to the point.  Writer’s Digest recently posted a link to the article  “How to Write Your First Novel: 6 Pieces of Advice” by a novelist/former cookbook writer named Steven Raichlen.   Might as well check it out…

  1. The world has two sorts of writers: people who talk about writing a novel and people who actually do it.  Word. Talking about writing a novel is lame.
  2. Write a mission statement…and contract.  For reals? A contract? Sigh.  Fine, let’s consider this blog a contract.  The consequence for not meeting my goal will be to write a novel about failing to write a novel.
  3. The secret to writing a novel—or any book—is writing.  For all you aspiring writers out there, this is the one thing I’ve heard consistently.  If you want to finish a book, you need to write every day, period.  I’m thinking about starting that…next week? The week after?
  4. There’s no one right way to write a novel. I guess this counts as advice, although I don’t know how helpful it is.
  5. Write with your eraser (or delete button).  Unlike many writers, I actually love cutting out words.  I’m not married to my prose.  I can do this, no problem!
  6. Take the time to celebrate the milestones in your writing process.  I finished this blog post, yay!

The author elaborates on the advice here.  What do you guys think? Are you ready to write your first novel after reading this?

Lawyer Stress Followed By Writer Rest

I most likely published this post during the height of procrastination period, but let it be known that I am writing this late at night.  I have so much freaken lawyering to do this week, it sucks.  I try very, very hard to stay a calm force is the midst of chaos, but even I’ve been getting a little stressed out.  Like tonight (or probably last night by the time you are reading this)– it was non stop, which is cool because it makes the day go faster BUT tonight was my monthly writer’s group meeting!  I missed it last month to work on a deal, so this time when I was dismissed at 8:30 (and before you start talking ish, I started working at 5:30am ok?) I damn near ran to Bethesda, even though they had started at 7:30.

People, let me tell you, it is like a breath of fresh air sitting in a cozy living room in Bethesda, drinking wine, eating homemade treats and discussing someone’s piece in an honest yet casual fashion.  And of course reading the stories themselves truly is inspiring as well.  I haven’t written anything creative in a while, but going over someone else’s work, and being expected to comment thoughtfully on it really is motivating.  It’s also just a completely different conversation than I have most of the time.  I think in any profession, you eventually reach a point where 70% of what you talk about is somehow related to a specific field.  I remember telling someone once that I “acquired” a pair of shoes, and it didn’t even sound weird, for example.  I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s certainly different from those 4 hour conversations about the problems of society that you have in the dining halls in college.  Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why college students are so politically (in the traditional and radical sense) active—they actually have time to think about the world and react!  Anyway, the point is that these meetings are kind of like a flash back to college.  They provide a chance to share your opinion on writing and metaphors and what not, but also to be reflective on life, growth and the media’s portrayal of insert-the-blank.   Ultimately, it’s a much better way to end the day than passing out on the couch with Bravo seeping into your subconscious (although that might happen anyway).

Since I really don’t have any time to read anything, attend any events or make progress on any type of non-legal project, I’m going to leave it at that.  Later dudes!

Networking, Bonding and Possibly Drinking

The title of the post includes the words “networking” and “drinking,” quick– will I be discussing lawyering or noveling??

If you guessed noveling, you’re correct!  If you guessed lawyering, it’s OK, I would have too.  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was extremely flattered and delighted when some people in my writing class e-mailed to see if I wanted to get together monthly to critique each other’s work.  Essentially, the meetings would be a continuation of the class, except I suspect that alcohol may be involved this time.

With this invitation to the writing group, I had an epiphany: no matter what field you’re in, or what aspirations you have, networking is a key component.  It simply cannot be escaped.  I initially joined the creative writing class to hone my skills, but I’ve grown to realize that the most valuable thing I may take from it are the relationships I’ve made.  The last day of class our teacher told us that his writing group had been formed from the members of a class he had taken at the Writer’s Center, and that it was still going strong—that class was 8 years ago! Since then, he has published several short stories and is now working on his novel.

The people in my class/group range in age, gender, writing genre, and profession, and I really don’t know if I would have ever met most of them in another context; however, the reality is that we end up drawing on some very personal experiences when sharing our short stories.  For that reason, I think we all have learned a lot about each other in a short period of time.  For me, the  critique of one my  stories felt like a group therapy session! The personal aspect of it is good though because I believe that for the group to be successful, its members will have to be able to trust one another.  Is anyone out there in a writing group?  How does it work? Holllerrr