Monday, February 22, 2016

#WritersLife: Importance of Writing Everyday

#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

This post is my 100th for the blog, and I am so happy that it will be for the #WritersLife segment! I want to hone in on a lesson that every writer (published, aspiring, or as a past time) talks about as the best advice to give.

To be a writer, you must write everyday.

Sure, if you're a writer, you love it and want to do it every waking moment. But we often don't do it eight hours a day let alone eight minutes a day. There are plenty of things to talk about in terms of why we don't write everyday and what those reasons may be, but I want to focus on the reasons why you, as any kind of writer, should write at least a few sentences every single day for whatever project you're working on.

So you don't forget what happened in the book

I have a beautiful outline that shows me what happened in the first draft and what I want to happen in
Three chapters in & I'm already scribbling on my revisions.
the second draft. Heads up: I'm 7K words into the second draft and have followed about 20% of what I outlined to do. Things change and you should embrace the story your characters are pushing you to tell, but you should also be careful not to forget what those voices are telling you to do.

Because that beloved outline may change or you may realize you want to go a different direction, you should write a little everyday in order to maintain the change you're trying to implement. Otherwise, you risk having to reread everything you wrote up until that point, decipher your own handwriting to figure out what it is you wanted to do, and then start writing *after* all of that.

Basically, unless you have a photographic memory, you're going to forget every scene that happened in your own book during the draft and revision processes. It happens. Sure, Protag learns she is Chosen One, fights Evil Villain, and saves the World, but what about that conversation about butterflies? Always remember the butterflies! (this isn't a reference of any kind, I'm just stuck on the flying critters). 

So you maintain the voice for that book

Voice is the most difficult part of writing for me. I've been rejected by three agents so far, and each time, voice was mentioned. Not only is it hard to find that perfect, unique sound for either the narrative or the main character, it's even harder to maintain it if you haven't written in that voice for three weeks.

Have you ever read a draft where the beginning sounds like a 14 year old boy, transforms into a 29 year old woman, and then by the end goes to a 17 year old teen? That may have happened because you wanted to experiment with how your character is perceived by his world and your readers. If you knew exactly what you wanted him to sound like, you may have lost the voice you wanted.

Voice is the part of the sample pages in your query that will make or break a request for a full. If you write everyday, this voice will become so ingrained in you that the conversations you have with yourself will turn into this voice instead of mother's.

Doesn't everybody's voice in their head sound like their nagging mom, or was that just me?

So you don't lose the skill to write

In college, I majored in creative writing. I also spent the first three semesters taking core classes and having fun joining organizations. I didn't write. When I sat down to write a story after a year and a half of not diligently pursing my craft, I realized I didn't know how.

Writing is like any work. If you stop running, you won't be the fastest in cross country. If you stop eating vegetables, you're going to gain weight. If you stop doing your laundry, your mom starts to think your legs must be broken or that you need to get out of her house (I'm only kidding; my mom is super cool as long as I do laundry). 

Writing is a skill and even if you were born with that desire to tell stories, you weren't born with the hours of study, practice, and endless audio tape session of listening to On Writing by Stephen King. You need to write or else you lose the style you found yourself perfecting over the weeks and months and years it took you to find it. You'll end up writing about Mary Sue who falls in love with a boy as soon as she meets him and saves the post-apocalyptic world with a team of three to five teenagers who are secretly vampires but I think one is just a man who can transform into a black dog. 

Find your style. Find your voice. 

So you never forget why you love writing

It's easy to get caught up in finding a job after college, paying off your car, house, or student loans, caring for your children, and putting up with your spouse. You may think you can put off writing until the next month when this next credit card is paid off or after you get this promotion because then things won't be so hectic.

Don't do this. If you love writing, do it. I don't care if you do it as a hobby or if you want to see your work in the hands of readers will do some hardcore fangirling over your OTP. If you love it, make time for it. You love your children, so you make time for them. You love your friends, so you make time for them. You once loved your spouse, so let them have the shower first once a month.

You love writing. Do it everyday because you love it, and I promise it won't throw a tantrum... although it may make you want to rip your hair out.

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