How Not To Write A Novel

The internet contains endless resources of how to write a novel… but at a certain point, what you really need is for someone to tell you exactly how not to write a novel.

Devote an hour a day to writing, then spend that time on Twitter.

Tell yourself it still counts as writing because at least you’re thinking about writing. Conveniently ignore the fact that your novel has remain stuck to the same word count for weeks.

Read a load of books about writing a book.

Inevitably you’ll run out of time in the day to actually write, but that’s okay because at least now you know the theory of how to write a novel. It doesn’t count as a waste of time even if the book taught you nothing new.

Stare at your Pinterest moodboard.

Similar suggestions: scroll endlessly through Instagram, DeviantArt, even Google Images in the hopes that a muse will grab you by the neck because, let’s face it, that’s the only way you’re going to get any writing done.

Create your characters in Sims.

Get distracted, design an entire house for them, turn them into Vampires, and rejoicing as they celebrate Winterfest together. Yeah, I just downloaded Sims 4 Seasons, why do you ask?

Switch to a new project every two weeks.

I’m just not feeling it this week, you might say, and doom it to die a cold death in the depths of your Scrivener folders.

Send your boyfriend cat memes, then get sad about missing him.

I know I said I was going to write in five minutes, but now I’m three pages deep in a page devoted to cats pulling funny facial expressions, and then I was reminded of how much I miss my boyfriend. I’m sappy. Sue me.

Completely give up.

Accept defeat and decide you’re never going to finish the darn thing. Surrender any and all dreams of ever seeing your treasured work in print.

Most importantly: write a blog post with all the bad habits you’ve developed (and try to beat) over the years, partially for accountability, and partially in the hopes it’ll help someone else.

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Meet the Writing Projects: THE NEIGHBOUR

Another week, another writing project. This is the third “Meet The Writing Projects” post. Today’s writing project is THE NEIGHBOUR. It’s the smallest project I’m working on and is largely about a frail old woman watching and discussing the lives of her neighbours.

Influences

THE NEIGHBOUR has a couple of inspirations: Half Broken Things, the works of Gillian Flynn, and the cumulation of short stories I’ve read over the three years of my degree.

Aesthetics

I have a fainter idea of the aesthetics of this short story. I have a more concrete idea of the atmosphere than the physical setting: isolation, loneliness, and what happens when people withdraw from society.

Soundtrack

I don’t yet have a soundtrack for this and I don’t necessarily think I will do. I’m not even sure what form this will have – short story or novel – so there’s a lot left to figure out. I don’t think I’ll really be writing to a soundtrack with this project. That might surprise you, given the solid soundtracks I have for my previous two projects… but I think the level of focus required to write it right, since I’m going for a very literary tone, will require more focus than the other two in their first draft.

Progress

I have about 500 words written so far from this. I’m in the process of going back over it and deciding a little more where I want it to go. I think it will be a short story, so I need to make my writing and precise and my plot as smooth as possible.

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The best (and worst) online writing communities

Not all online writing communities were created equal. It doesn’t take much effort to find one – but it does take work to find the right writing community for you. Before I start ranking the pros and cons of each online writing community I’ve been in, I should run through what I mean by an “online writing community”. Essentially, I’m talking about online spaces where writers have grouped together. These aren’t websites dedicated to writing – rather, they’re general social media platforms where writers have congregated together.

Twitter

The most prominent online writing community is on Twitter: it’s where all the indie authors go. I have had huge success over on Twitter and it is where I spend a lot of my social media. It’s easy to see why writers flock to Twitter. The platform is super simple to get started on, required minimal effort due to the character limit, and the writing community there is already huge (just check the #writingcommunity tag and you’ll see the number I’m talking about).

However, Twitter does have its problems, just like all communities do. Let’s explore. A large number in the writing community engage in writers lifts and follow trains. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t effective – true, you will get a lot of followers very quickly, but you won’t be getting engagement to match the numbers, and that kind of growth isn’t sustainable. Too many people spam hashtags, links to their books, and then get frustrated when their marketing isn’t going well. It’s exactly the topic I talked about in last week’s blog post.

However, Twitter is still a great community – it’s just going through a period of reinvention at the moment. Good hashtags to follow are #writersq, #writerscafe, and all the discussions in this thread.

Discord

Being a member of a writing discord is a much more intimate experience – but with that added privacy, comes an added difficulty finding the discord in the first place, since you’ll need to get an invite. Public discords are generally very welcome, while still having airs and illusions of being exclusive. Personally, I love writing discords – but I would be biased, because two years ago I founded one. Discord can take a little time to get used to but it is certainly a platform I recommend taking a look at.

Instagram

Personally, I haven’t much experience with the writing community on Instagram. Much like Twitter, there is a lot of spam content and writing is very difficult to get noticed on the platform due to sheer oversaturation. The book community, however, is someone I’m very familiar with, so I know how the platform functions in general. Instagram cares primarily about the aesthetics of the content being uploaded, rather than the content itself – a huge problem for writers. It’s fine for book marketing, but a very different story for discussing the actual content of books in big detail; that, of course, is the main reason why book bloggers cross-promote on Instagram so successfully. They match up their beautiful photography with longer form posts over on their blog. That brings us to blogs as writing communities!

Creating a Blog

This one is a little different, but there are big reading and writing communities on blogging sites like WordPress. Never heard of it? Congratulations – you’re already here! The difficulty with sites like WordPress is that sites are very disconnected from each other, and usually rely upon discords, online forums, or group chats to keep in touch. But… unlike all the other platforms already discussed, creating a blog by default means focusing on longer form content, which is exactly what you want with a writing community. You don’t need to even create your own blog! Find a blogger you love, and engage with their content in the comments section. You never know who you might meet and connect with.

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Are you a member of any online writing communities? What is your experience? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Meet the Writing Projects: JIMMY WEST KILLED A MAN

This is the next post in my Meeting The Writing Projects series! Today we’re talking about JIMMY WEST KILLED A MAN, which I mentioned in a post last month, What I’m Writing Right Now.

Influences

JIMMY WEST KILLED A MAN is influenced by the works of Gillian Flynn and the novel Lolita. The best way I can describe it is as a mix between the style of literary fiction and crime/fiction novels. It also has elements of replication a biography.

Aesthetics

I haven’t got a definite time period set – I need to do a lot of work on the timeline – but I do have some specific settings in mind. The beginning of the book is set in a trailer park and follows the protagonist growing up. A lot of the book will be dedicated to his life as a teenager and that’s my favourite part to write and plan so far.

Soundtrack

I don’t have any real specific albums or genres for JIMMY WEST KILLED A MAN, but I do have another playlist to share. I’m sure the soundtrack will shift as the protagonist ages – at the moment I’m focusing on the teenage years and the soundtrack is reminiscent of that.

Progress

I’m about 17,000 words into this project. I’m taking a mini break from it to write more for Alice in Cyberland and once I return, I’ll be working on the plot, and then maybe editing some of the stuff I have so far. The timeline of the book spans at least fifty years and I’m finding the early years of the story are dragging on a lot more than I originally anticipated. It’s a very messy manuscript so far – but I have a lot of words written for it, so I’m pretty proud of this progress in just a few short weeks.

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