As a fairly unknown author (don’t worry, I will make it big – no way I’m pulling out of my life dream), I often sit with questions and doubts… If you write, you will know them intimately.
- This belief that my writing is gold coupled with crippling self-doubt, do other writers suffer from this?
- Getting feedback on my stories kills my spirit, do I really suck that much?
- Getting feedback like “I liked it” is nice, but it means nothing to me…how do I get feedback that actually means something?
- How on earth am I supposed to get around to writing if I have a 9-5 job/kids/household chores/friends?
- How do I get people to give me feedback on stories? I mean, they know it’s not ready for publishing and they don’t feel like reading it. How do I convince them?
- People look at me like I’m a bum because I choose to write and be poor for now. How do I deal with the constant judgment?
There are many more. They haunt me everywhere I go.
Luckily, I have found like-minded people. One of these is Richard T. Wheeler, an absolutely invaluable asset to my writer self. Richard has a passion for fellow writers. He loves helping writers find their way. He loves sharing what he has learned in his relentless quest to learn the three big things in writing: craft, organisation and marketing.
I highly recommend checking out his website for fiction writers: Dauntless Writing. He’s adding content as often as he can and it’s all about the stuff independent writers need and want to know.
When I started out writing for STORM I was rather self assured of my writing skills. I was sure that I could write up something that would blast my fellow contributors away. It took quite a bit to bring me back down to a position of humility.
But, back to today’s story… I asked a fellow writer, Richard, to help met out with a bit of beta reading… And did he beta read. My oh my. He came back with criticism of 8 pages on a short story of just over 9000 words. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.
Now, usually when you get feedback on a story, you have to steel yourself. You have to take a deep breath and remind yourself that they are not criticising you, they are criticising your work. (Fat lot of calming down that does. :P)
Richard’s feedback was thorough; it was honest; heck, it was a good read…. But most importantly, it was edifying and positive. I’m not sure how he did it, but after reading his feedback, I wanted to know more. I wanted to talk to him and find out what he could teach me, what we could figure out together.
If all beta readers could help writers like Richard did, I think more people would make it through the editing/rewriting stage. I really hope that I can provide the same kind of feedback to other writers who ask me to beta read in the future.
So, National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner. Every year in November, this organisation encourages writers (and aspiring writers) from across the world to attempt writing a whole book in one month. Having had contact with writers who have attempted this before, I have been put under the firm impression that this challenge is not for sissies.
Writing 50 000 words in 30 days is a massive undertaking…especially if you have a life that is notorious for happening at you a lot. Some writers do this in their spare time. Some writers dedicate every waking moment to it. Some simply write to write. Some write to make progress on novels they have been planning for a while.
However you look at it. It is a massive achievement to have written 50 000 words in a month. It comes down to writing 1666+ every day for 30 days. 1666+ might not sound like a lot, but if you want to write anything resembling an actual story, you might run into some difficulties in filling that quota. Just ask some of the veterans and look at the amount of ‘beat the block’ kind of links on the main page, and you’ll quickly realise that very few writers don’t get stuck.
I might just be idealistic, but I hope to use this year’s NaNoWriMo to get my writing habit firmly settled and to prove to myself that I can, in fact, write a 300 000-word novel in less than a year.
Good luck to all the writers taking on NaNoWriMo this year! May your fingers find their way on your keyboard and may your ideas flow like the mighty Amazon. We can do this!