Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Author Dean Wesley Smith is Doing What?
(Common Writing Myths)
When it comes to writing techniques and processes, one size does not fit all. What works for my favorite authors may not work for me, yet one techinique used by another might be just the ticket. That's why I've been fascinated with Author Dean Wesley Smith's shared novel writing experience. He is ghost writing a 70,000-word novel, which he's set a target to write in 10 days or less, and is chronicling the writing of the book on his blog.
During Dean Wesley Smith's writing marathon, he's taking the time to graciously answer questions in the comment sections of his posts, providing answers that are pearls of wisdom for writers eager to debunk traditional writing myths.
The ten (10) of the most common writing myths, I personally have encountered include:
1) Fast writing can't be good writing.
2) The writing journey must be filled with angst and struggle to provide validation.
3) Large chunks of time are required to write any words of value.
4) The muse must visit and you must feel inspired in order to write.
5) The writing of a novel is mysterious and difficult, and meant for only a chose few.
6) Only a chosen few actually "get" how to write a novel.
7) Good writers are born, not taught or self-created.
8) If the writing process is easy, multiple revisions must be performed.
9) To write, the writer must have complete quiet and no distractions.
10) Good writing is innate, it does not come from the act of actually writing, then writing some more.
Fast writing can't be good writing.
Dean is debunking this myth with his writing marathon. His theory is that the quality of writing remains the same whether you write fast, while you are tired and more in a zone (which is why he gets most of his writing done in the wee morning hours), or when refreshed. To me, when you are first drafting, your focus should be on the story, not the words. (In his comment replies, Dean addressed this story versus words issue head on.)
The writing journey must be filled with angst and struggle to provide validation.
My parents believed you must struggle and work hard to earn your way through life. Basically, if you worked a lot, you earned a little. Writing doesn't have to be like that. Writing doesn't have to be a self-suffering journey. My chosen writing journey is fun and satisfying, every step of the way.
Large chunks of time are required to write any words of value.
Dean writes in smaller stints, usually approximately 1 hour in length, spaced out so that he can last the distance of the marathon. In 15 minutes a day, a writer could write a book in a year. No large chunks of time required.
The muse must visit and you must feel inspired in order to write.
What if the muse is on vacation in Maui? Or Inspiration is on a year-long sabbatical in the mountains. Writer's write. The end.
The writing of a novel is mysterious and difficult, and meant for only a chose few.
Not too long ago, a writing workshop instructor claimed that you either got writing a novel or you didn't. Um, okay, then why are you bothering to "instruct" a class, Mr. Instructor? I'm not sure whether this tact is ego-based or territory-derived. Either way, sir, with the help of Rock Your Plot and Rock Your Revisions, I beg to differ.
Only a chosen few actually "get" how to write a novel.
By chosen few, I mean established authors, such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Nora Roberts, who have achieved household name status for their prolific writing in the traditional publishing worlds. Or how about J.A. Konrath or Dean Wesley Smith? They get how to structure, draft, and revise, yet the process must be out of reach for other aspiring authors? Not. (Thank you Joe and Dean for dispelling the myth every day on your writer-supportive blogs!)
Good writers are born, not taught or self-created.
You either are born able to write and possess such mega talent, or you are a wannabe and that's all you'll ever be. Savvy Authors provides numerous courses to authors that debunk this myth in a big way. If they so choose to actually write, wannabes can easily become gonnabes.
If the writing process is easy, multiple revisions must be performed.
Which is why so many books now a days are vanilla. The life has been edited from the style, the voice and the words. Any reader, no matter the genre, will tell you they get tired of the same ol' same ol'.
To write, the writer must have complete quiet and no distractions.
This myth is being dispelled by Dean as well. He writes in stints, takes time out for food breaks and to take naps with his cat. I close myself away, but if something comes up to take me away from writing, I address the issue, then return to my desk. The biggy is coming back to the writing and actually writing.
Good writing is innate, it does not come from the act of actually writing, then writing some more.
A multi-published author recently told me there comes a time when no class or workshop or course is going to be more beneficial than the act of actually writing. You write, write, write, then write some more.
Dean Wesley Smith's Progress
On Day 5, Dean has reached the halfway mark of a novel he didn't outline and claims he has no idea where the story is headed. Dean says he trusts the process and believes the story will come together. Should you get a chance, drop by Dean's blog and share in the experience of a professional writer's schedule, his progress, and his gracious sharing of his writing journey at www.deanwesleysmith.com.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Dean. Good writing and onward!