Novel Writing Tips: How Novels REALLY Get Written
Today, I want to talk about a dangerous myth about writing. This is a myth that you've probably heard. You may even be a victim of it.
This myth is harmful to writers because it sets them up to fail.
I'm referring to the myth of the inspired genius. You know, the great writer who gets a stroke of inspiration and then sits down and pours brilliant words out onto the page.
It's very important to understand that writing doesn't normally work that way.
There's a more complex process behind the writing of most successful novels. But we don't see that process, we only see the finished pages. So most people are unaware of what really goes on behind the scenes to produce the novels they admire.
What happens when you believe the myth? First of all, it can be very intimidating. There's a lot of pressure if you think you have to sit down and be brilliant. No wonder so many people procrastinate about writing. They're waiting for inspiration, or they're scared even to try.
Another thing that often happens is that people will start to write something, and then they'll run out of steam partway through. They reach a point where they just don't know what to write next. That happens because they just jumped right in without a plan.
A third hazard of the myth of the inspired genius is that it can make you lose confidence in your writing. Again, no wonder.
You sit down and write something, and then you compare it to someone else's novel. But you don't see everything that went on behind the making of the novel you're comparing it to. You don't see all the failed first attempts, the outlines and the planning, the messy drafts, and revisions and more revisions.
What you're doing is comparing your FIRST draft to someone else's FINAL draft. That's not a fair contest.
When people talk about writer's block, they're generally talking about one of the three problems I've mentioned. They have trouble getting started, they run out of steam partway through, or nothing comes out the way they want it to. And this myth of the inspired genius feeds all three of these problems.
It helps to keep in mind some things about the REALITY of how most successful novels get written:
- The authors don't wait around for inspiration. They just sit down to work.
- The writing doesn't come out brilliant right away. First drafts are messy.
- Many writers spend months and even years planning their novels. The writers who don't plan generally do a LOT of revising instead, often throwing away whole novel drafts before producing the pages that you see.
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