I am going to help you “Right” that novel. “Right” that novel, not “write” that novel. There are plenty of places you can go for writing mechanics and marketing advice and a host of paid services that can help you get your book in perfect shape. But that’s not the trouble is it? Getting the novel written has been the hardship. You’re not alone. Did you know that 70% of Americans say that they intend to write a novel? Of course most of them will not. Some will get a few chapters complete and then put them away. Others will have one false start after the next as their great idea becomes a frustration of dead ends and writer’s block. Even those who are dead serious on a writing career will spend years poking and pushing the words around without ever reaching “THE END.” The reason is that for all of the writing seminars, groups, and services available, there exists little help in “Righting” a novel.
Often the worst writers seem more capable of publishing a book than those who demonstrate the greatest talent. I have seen short stories by truly talented people who at some point disappear into some other “job” and never give the public the enjoyment of experiencing their stories. Perhaps a part of that is the fault of publishing industry and the difficulty in getting noticed. If that is true then an equal part is that talented story-tellers just lose their way. Lost in writing seminars that will help them develop characters, but not their characters or help them craft excellent sentences but never motivate them to put those sentences together in a complete story. I’m not slighting these services or this training. We should all work to improve at our craft. But mechanics are a small part of a great story. And to write a great story you don’t need another grammar lesson. You need, passion, motivation, and techniques to keep you energized and engaged. You need to Right your Novel through process not through practice.
There are a number of reasons why you aren’t writing your novel. Some are actually legitimate, but mostly all of those reasons can be overcome today. Many talented writers are currently not writing their novel. They are engaged in seminars, writing groups, research, workshops and those “write a novel this month” contests. They are also writing blogs, reading blogs, and pretty much doing anything related to being a writer without actually being a writer. I know – I’m with you – it happens to me all the time. I also know that you are “real busy” right now. You have a lot on your plate. Things like school, finals, a job, feeding your family, raising your kids, going out with friends, chores, shopping…the list is endless. And if you just had the “time” you would defiantly finish your book. Or when you are done with <Insert activity here> you will get back to writing.
Like I said you might have legit reasons for not writing that novel…but with few exceptions…I’m calling bullshit.
Time is not the problem. Your skill set is not the problem. The problem is either your story is boring you or you aren’t having any fun writing it. That’s okay we can fix both. It’s funny but I have never met a great writer who thinks they are good enough to publish. I have never met a bad writer who doesn’t think their stuff is a best-seller. Confidence whether real or delusional drives success more often than talent. Now a hack writer with tons of confidence will not succeed in the long term. But a talented writer without the motivation to finish shares the same exact fate. Look there is plenty of research to be done on the writing business. Marketing, promotion, and publishing are all critical to your success. They are not, however, critical to finishing your novel. Nor is improving your present skill set required. As Stephen King wrote in his non-fiction book, On Writing, you already have all the tools in your writer’s toolbox that you need. If you still think you need to learn more about writing, then you shouldn’t even be reading a blog about writing a novel. But if you’re frustrated that you haven’t written or finished then this is the right place.
What you really need is a set of techniques and motivation to move the process along. You also need a deadline to finish. A deadline means that shortly you can stop boring your friends with your dream to be a writer and start boring them with endless conversations about your book sales. That deadline should be six months. Yep, six months to write “The End.” That’s what Righting Your Novel is all about. It’s turning a 2 year or 4 year or “never happened” dream into a six month process. And its as simple as a good idea, some moderate skills, and a passion to tell the story – that – infused with the correct techniques, atmosphere and motivation.
“Six months? To write a novel – that’s crazy, it will be trash”, you say.
“BS.” I say. “If you can’t write it in six months you’ll never write it at all.”
It will take me 16 more posts to give you all the steps to Righting Your Novel. That’s an investment of your time that could be spent writing. Your time is valuable. Am I qualified to help? That should be your first question. So let me give you a quick run down of my qualifications –
First and foremost I am a self-published author of two novels. I have had short stories published, but I have never worked in the publishing or book industry. I have a degree in cognitive psychology so I know a few things about motivation and habits. I have years of experience conducting training and education seminars on employee behaviors. I have written volumes of training manuals. I’m the Senior Vice President for my company (an international loss prevention and pharmacy compliance services and consulting firm) and among other things I’m in charge of marketing. I write weekly articles, white papers and monthly business eBooks for said company. All of my creative writing occurs nights, weekends and vacations. I’m married, have five children and a home (with all the requisite chores and stuff).
So those are my qualifications. I apologize if it all sounds self-serving. If it makes you feel a little better about my humility I’m short at 5’4”, I have lost thirty pounds at least ten times in my life..and to date have gained it back 11 times, I know nothing about sports, my poetry is freshman, and I can’t whistle. But good and bad aside I can help you Right that novel. Not every technique will work for you but if you find one or two gems you will work a lot faster and have a lot more fun.
So if you’re game, if you’d like to write your novel in six months and have fun doing it then join in. Be warned, however, there is a healthy mix of psychology and introspection in this process. If you believe writing to be a clinical, cold and mathematical process then this series is not for you. If however, you want techniques that focus on “you” and “your story” in the writing process then I think you’ll will enjoy this journey.
Since this is post one, I’ve included an outline of the rest (may be subject to change) which I will create links to as they appear.
Part 1. Right that Novel – An Introduction
Part 2. It Can’t Be Done
Part 3: Nothing Happens for a Reason
Part 4: An Object in Motion
Part 5: Emotions in Motion
Part 6: Passion – Tell a story don’t write a book
Part 7. Are You Cliche?
Part 8. Name thy Chapter
Part 9: It has a start, a middle and an end
Part 10. Theme Music – Set the Tempo
Part 11. Visualize – If you can’t see it, neither can I
Part 12. More Speaking less Thinking
Part 13. It’s “what” not “where” it happened
Part 14. Read it Aloud
Part 15: Make it a series
Part 16. Maybe that’s another story
Part 17. Perfection is Thine Enemy