Friday, October 12, 2012

Permission to Write Crap

I just finished reading Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and dove right into Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix, and Finish with Confidence by Roz Morris.
On goodreads
On goodreads


Both are excellent books! The first one deals with everything that makes a story breakout material, from unique premise to sympathetic characters to high stakes to symbols and setting. I highly recommend it.

The second deals with fixing and finishing a book. So, while the first is all about craft, the second (includes tips about craft but) is really about method. That's an important distinction for me because I've been studying the craft of writing for a long time. Years and years. What was missing from my self-education was the study of METHOD.

Roz Morris understands that you can know all about character arc, plot, and theme, and still have trouble working through an entire novel. She understands that you can write an entire first draft (or six) and still feel like a failure, like your book is somehow unfinished. Her book offers insights into the methods that can help you work and rework your novel until it's one you can be proud of.

I expected tips on organizing the plot and filling impossible holes, which I got. What I didn't expect was this insight about writing first drafts:

Dream your way through it. Your dream self isn't criticizing the dream you're having. You're just exploring it, letting your mind fill in the details as you go along (paraphrased from the book).

Sure, I'd heard people say, "Turn off your internal editor," but that never worked for me. My internal editor is sort of my best friend when I'm writing. It's really hard for me to turn it off. Roz Morris' way of putting it - dream your way through the first draft - reached me where I was.

I still feel compelled to edit as I go along if I see those horrible red squiggly lines. But I'm learning that it's okay to let your rough draft be... well, rough.

Roz Morris gave me permission to write crap. Now I'm passing that permission along to you.

Kind of liberating, isn't it?


p.s. Our January 4th-6th New Year's Revisions Conference will be totally free and totally online. We'd love to see you there and we're lining up a fantastic collection of authors, agents, and editors to give us a million new perspectives on the all-important steps of revision. Our agent Q&A is now open for questions. Email your revision questions to OperationAwesome6 (at) gmail (dot) com before October 31st. (Limit one question per person, please.)

8 comments:

  1. Love your comments about the books - Nail Your Novel is going on my TBR list. (Already have Breakout Novel.)

    And the easy way of turning off that particular internal editor is to tell Word (or whatever) to turn off the spell check! Works for me, anyway.

    Good luck with your book, Jen

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    1. Thank you, Jen! (Google chrome squiggly red-underlined your name. It's everywhere! Ahhh!) Good luck with your books, too!

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  2. These are great! I hadn't come across either of them and your motivation to read them back to back has me interested. I'll check 'em out! Thanks!

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    1. I hope you find them both as useful as I have!

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  3. Katrina, thanks so much for this write-up - and to find myself sitting next to Don Maass is a great honour. His books and blog posts are full of useful wisdom - I'd recommend him to anyone.
    It's funny that you picked out that line of mine about dreaming the novel. It took me a long time to give myself permission to do that, but when I did it freed me to delve much deeper into my characters and situation. Remember, the first draft doesn't have to be shown to anyone. It's for you to work with. Good luck with your books!

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    1. Hi Roz! Thank you for stopping by! And thank you for your work on your website and in your books for writers.

      Good luck with your future endeavors, as well!

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  4. I am definitely going to add "Nail your novel" to my list. I am stuck revising right now and it is not very fun. Permission to write crap is liberating. :)

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    1. Krista, that's exactly where I'm at in the process, too. Enjoy Nail Your Novel! May we both end up writing the complete opposite of crap! :)

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