Novel Writing: Fun or Work?

This term, the novel writing class is not only large, it’s serious. The first week, I suggested the students start thinking of themselves not as writers-in-training, not as “someday writers,” but as real writers. The following class, many of the students reported not getting much writing done, so I challenged them to have fun with it this week. That’s what writing awful first drafts is about.
Writing Tip for Today: Famous writers, from Ken Kesey to Anne Lamott counsel beginners to write as badly as they can, as quickly as they can. “Junk it through,” the late Kesey said. The whole idea is to give yourself as much access to creativity (right brain) as possible while finishing a draft as quickly as possible. Then the real work can begin. Are you able to junk it through? What does this mean?

  • No editing. Harder for some writers than others, the idea is to not short-circuit right-brain creativity with left-brain analysis. Yes, it may result in some laugh-out-loud moments when you workshop or read your work later. But don’t be shy–if you workshop your stuff it’s not meant to be a flawless performance. It’s about fixing things until it’s as flawless as you can make it.
  • Let Characters Rule. The crummy first draft is where you can allow your characters to “take over.” On revisions, you may have to start a mutiny and take back control, but in draft you are inventing this stuff from a sub-conscious place. Get in the zone and write in the fast lane.
  • Get it Down, Fix it Up. Another key to writing fun and fearless is to understand you won’t be able to leave your story like this. Odds are, you draft portions of the story that read perfectly obvious to you but the objective reader has no idea what you’re talking about. When you get the draft finished, it will require many revisions to be appealing to readers. But right now you just get it down.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

3 comments on “Novel Writing: Fun or Work?

  1. As Tracy said, that’s how NaNoWriMo works. One thing I learned the first time I did NaNo was that I can’t suppress my inner editor, but it drives her nuts when I agree with her. So when I hear that evil little voice that say ‘you are writing crap’ I just say “yes I am, now just let me get on with it”.

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