Write More, Care Less?

With November comes NaNoWriMo and by now many people are either realizing:typewriter

a. they might have something worth salvaging.
b. they have a steaming pile of crap.
c. a and b
d. none of the above

I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago that having a steaming pile of crap can be a good thing. Yeah, gross, right? So the age old question comes into play: is it better to have nothing or a bunch of slop on a page?

I think the key is to just care less while you’re writing. This doesn’t mean dishing out whatever random junk you have in your arsenal and hope it works. It means stop worrying about sentences not being perfect or how you’re going to market it. Caring less can allow you to do so much more with your writing than you could ever imagine. I’ll highlight some steps to care less and become a more productive, happy, smiling writer.

1.Write What’s Fun

Feel like you have that huge epic that’s dying to get out of your fingers? Does it feel more of a chore than a labor of love? Then give it the boot and write something fun. Don’t care if it ever sees the light of day. Some of the best stories can be forged out of a lark. If you’re having fun writing it, chances are someone may enjoy reading it. If it’s a daily slog through a marsh of death, there’s a chance that others may not click with it either. Readers can feel when a writer is having fun.

2. Genre Schmenre

Sometimes writers can get trapped within the bounds of their chosen genre and be afraid to dip their toes in any other waters. This could be a mistake. If your romance is dying for something weird to happen, let it. If your fantasy needs a little love triangle to spice things up, go for it. Don’t bind yourself and you may see the words flowing out of your fingertips.

3. Dialogue Is Your Friend

Dialogue is that wonderful clog-buster that can get any sloth-like novel moving again. Sometimes just letting characters riff can be a way to not care too much, but still get some good writing in. If you’re a more descriptive writer and you find yourself drowning in a sea of words, you might try out more dialogue that allows your characters to shine. And let them say stupid crap sometimes. It’s fine.

4. Oh, a Dragon

One of the coolest things about the game Skyrim is that you could just sort of be wandering around and a dragon would just be like “Hey. I’m going to roast you now.” And you could do little to nothing at the early levels to combat it. Sometimes you may need to let your writing do that. Let it dump a dragon (or equivalent) in the middle of things. I don’t mean a “random encounter” but if that gets things moving, why not? You can make it all more cohesive in the dreaded edits.

5. Share, Learn, Grow

One of the best ways to care less is to show more people your work. Of course you should care what they think (only a weirdo wouldn’t) but try to care less about getting your feelings hurt or ego bruised. Most people who critique are giving good advice and if you bottle yourself up because you’re “not ready” then you may be short-changing yourself.

6. But By All Means Edit That Crap!

I don’t mean “don’t care.” That would be someone writing something without edits, slapping on some hastily scrawled cover, and hoping someone plops money down on that donkey dung. You should still edit to the bone. Just when you do edits, don’t worry about cutting some awesome scene. You can always use it later. As long as everything makes sense in the end, that’s all that matters. Care less about making everything perfect.

I hope my words will help you stay productive well past NaNoWriMo. This is the first year I haven’t participated and I’ve sort of enjoyed it. It’s nice to sit back and write at my own pace and watch everyone else scramble for word counts and fall in and out of love with their novels. It could be a spectator sport.

So what do you do to stay productive and avoid letting your inner editor eat your dreams? Share in the comments below!

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Britanica
Britanica
5 years ago

Very good tips! When I was still writing I would find myself hitting road blocks and I would keep second guessing and going over and over things. I would actually just take 2 or 3 days to myself, not thinking of the book and then come back. It always helped to refresh me.

J. Paul
J. Paul
5 years ago

I’m not going to contradict the advice, but I’ll give another perspective. Outline, and outline well. I used to be a “stream of consciousness” writer, but I produced a LOT of the aforementioned crap. Sure, I fixed it with revisions, but it was still a huge waste of time. Then I started outlining in stages. Now I don’t have to waste time with the “this is crap, time to rewrite it” thing, because by the time I start writing the actual prose, it’s already been through final-revision-level scrutiny.

Kelly Knight
Kelly Knight
5 years ago

Great advice!! This is something that I need to do more! I need to spend every day writing something, even if it’s crap like you said. 🙂 I can then turn that like into something great one day. 🙂 thanks for the pick me up, I needed this since I’m about to start writing a brand new story.

Philip Overby
Reply to  Kelly Knight
5 years ago

Thanks, Kelly! It’s always good to start with a positive mind set when beginning a new story. I have always looked at writing like any work. Sometimes you have good days and sometimes bad ones. Good luck!

Andrea Robinson
Andrea Robinson
5 years ago

This is such fun and practical advice for those “writer’s block” moments! Personally, my big bugaboo is, and always has been, perfectionism. I will literally write something for hours one day, and because I ran out of time to dot that one i, the piece will sit there for months collecting dust.

Write what’s fun — what great advice!

🙂

Philip Overby
Reply to  Andrea Robinson
5 years ago

Thanks, Andrea! I think that perfectionism was my big stumbling block for years, but I reached a point where I found certain kinds of fantasy writing blocked me. I found when I tried to be too serious, I ran out of steam. So I started writing “lighter” (although that might not be the right word) fantasy to keep my gears turning.

Ann
Ann
5 years ago

The story I have is a bit different from the typical writer….my husband went to school to learn to be a screenwriter….and though he hasn’t had one picked up yet (it’s all about who you know, unfortunately) he has some very, very good stuff that has placed high in competitions. And he writes what he knows and loves….and I have a friend who started writing a few years ago, she sent me her story once it was done. It was a good ebook, and though she hasn’t made a ton of money, she does get a lot of sales on Kindle/Amazon for her .99 cent book. I say write what you love, and the rest will follow. As Rachel Ann says, “And at the same time it’s the only way to become any good and make something of your work.” Now I’m not a writer myself, but I love books, graphic novels, and such. And I love reading on how writers come up with their ideas and whatnot. (Our 11 yr old has started showing some interest in writing, so I’m doing some research and stuff to be able to help her) 🙂

Philip Overby
Reply to  Ann
5 years ago

Thanks, Ann! It’s great to hear that your daughter is interested in writing. I guess it runs in the family! I think writing has to definitely be a passion and not necessarily a money-making thing. If the two come together, that’s great!

librarylady
librarylady
5 years ago

Excellent advice. Unfortunately I’m one of those editing nerds who love the process of polishing and perfecting the written word. Left to my own devices, I’d stop every three paragraphs and start editing. I think the biggest favor a writer can do for themselves is say “I’m just going to write for fun, and no one ever needs to see this. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself and end up with something worth showing after all.

Philip Overby
Reply to  librarylady
5 years ago

Thanks! I’ve done that multiple times. Just say “the hell with it” and write for fun. Some of my favorite writing has come from this way.

Rachael Ann Mare
5 years ago

100% agreed, Philip! Great post. I think all too often writers, especially newbies, ignore the fact that just writing a lot is a skill like any other. Sitting down and doing it and ignoring your self-doubt is something you have to school yourself to do, over and over, and that’s hard work. Kudos to anybody who keeps showing up. And at the same time it’s the only way to become any good and make something of your work.

Philip Overby
Reply to  Rachael Ann Mare
5 years ago

I always like the analogy, working out your “writing muscle.” It’s definitely working out for sure. Thanks!

Ciara Ballintyne
5 years ago

I don’t do NaNo, but when I write a first draft, I do try to care less. First drafts are for getting the story out. I try to make sure I weave the basic building blocks of good storytelling in, but I do not worry about sentence level stuff, and I do not LOOK BACK. Things that get left out of my first drafts? Character descriptions, emotion, body language, and scene setting. I do specific edit passes to fill those things back in where appropriate. The first draft, and the first edit, is for the plot.

Philip Overby
Reply to  Ciara Ballintyne
5 years ago

Yes, that’s similar to what I do. I call it a “skeleton draft.” Just getting down the bare bones and then I spruce it up later. If I feel the need to add a little decoration, I’ll do that on occasion.

Caring less has definitely helped me get through first drafts!

Thanks for commenting!

Arranah
Arranah
5 years ago

Thanks for this. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been writing a pile of dung. Not that it’s bad writing, but it seems I’ve written the same stuff before with a different story line, same old same old. Usually when I’m three-fourths of the way through one book, I get a huge urge to write the next one. By the time I’m finished with the one I’m working on, the impetus for the next has faded a bit. I can usually get it back, but this time it’s not working that way.

So I decided maybe I need to change my focus to be more humorous. I’ve had a heavy life, lots of bad stuff has happened. It’s excellent fodder. However, now I want to lighten up. That can be hard to do when the heaviness sets on a person. I’ve been working on it and added a few wild card characters to my works to help with that.

I recently learned that one of my writing heroes is a control freak. Now, he’s helped me a lot with what he’s written, and he’s been very helpful to me personally. Nice guy, except…. So I decided that I would focus on the god having feet of clay in my current novel. I’m 18,000 word into it. No, I’m not writing a book in a month. That’s a sure way for me to end up with crap. What I can’t seem to do is find a way to make this more fun, even with my wild card characters.

I ordered a book on adding humor to the story. I’m hoping it will help. I’ve considered dumping the story and starting again. I’m sitting on that, waiting for the book to show up…I ordered it online, and I live in Podunk.

Sorry, I’m rambling here…kind of like my current novel in progress.

On a lighter note I have two novels currently being considered by publishers, one a university press for a nonfiction work and the other a novel being considered by Simon and Schuster. Do you know of a good agent to handle the contracts, if I’m offered contracts? Fingers crossed.

Philip Overby
Reply to  Arranah
5 years ago

Thanks for commenting! I know there are some good websites out there for finding agents or you could check out the latest Writer’s Market to find listings there.

I tend to make things fun by not taking my characters too seriously. I know that’s hard if you’re writing a serious book, but I find a dose of humor always helps propel a book a long more than one that is serious all the time.

Good luck!

Arranah
Arranah
Reply to  Philip Overby
5 years ago

Good idea about not taking the characters too seriously. Sometimes I insert goofy characters to lighten things up.

I know about the agent lists. I’ve been to all the ones I know about. I’ve been doing this for years. Finding one is not the issue. Finding a good one is. I recently learned that my agent is too heavily into the sauce to be effective. He could be brilliant…and then he’d be the opposite. I didn’t want to admit it. I thought maybe it was my work. But after some of the things he wrote to help promote me, things he wanted me to rewrite for him, I realized he’s also an incoherent drunk. So I’m looking for a new one.

The issue here is finding one who would take on a couple of projects which are already at publishing houses.

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