Author Tricia Springstubb visited our library last week to help us launch National Novel Writing Month.
Springstubb has written “Moonpenny Island” and other popular books for young readers, as well as award-winning short fiction for adults.
She offered strategies (and coping techniques) for writing 50,000 words in 30 days. (That’s an approximate word goal. The aim of National Novel Writing Month is to complete a draft of your novel in one month.)
Here are nine pieces of advice she offered our fledgling authors:
1. There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft
“You’re not going to write a book in one month. Very few people can do that. But you can write a draft. It might be a bad draft, but it’s a place to start … I never write just two drafts. I write three or four. I’ve never written a novel in less than a year. Some take me three or four years.
2. Have a pattern
“Especially with novel writing, consistency is important. I sit in a certain place at a certain time and I write. I write six days a week.
3. Appreciate the value of what you’re doing
“You are making something new. You’re not tearing anyone down. That’s beautiful. It’s good for the world and it’s good for you.”
4. When you get writer’s block, think about your characters
“When people say, ‘I don’t know what happens next,’ they’re usually saying, ‘I just don’t know my character well enough.’
“Start listing traits, things that may never make the novel but help you understand your character: What’s her morning routine? Her shoe size? Her favorite team?”
5. If your mind is blank, then take a walk
“I’m a huge fan of going on walks. It’s like giving my brain recess. And I never go without a notebook and a pen in my pocket.”
6. Accept that this is difficult work
“Just accept that, at times during this process, you’re going to feel scared, you’re going to feel frustrated, you’re going to feel dumb. The best thing to do then is write and write and write.”
7. Writers write
“I get worried about talking about writing. It’s fun, but you need to do it. Sometimes talking about writing dilutes the idea.”
8. Don’t let rejection dissuade you
“I have the usual stack of rejection letters from publishers. I still get rejected.”
9. Every writer is different
“Everything I say, you should take with a grain of salt, because you can talk to another writer and they’ll tell you something different.”