You’ll have to excuse my brief hiatus from writing, but someone – yes, me – went skiing, hit their head on packed snow and ended up with a mild concussion. Computer screens, television, reading, basically everything I enjoy doing was out of the question for quite a few days.
I did sneak in an audiobook or two though… shhh.
I’m back into the swing of things, editing my novel with full force. I don’t particularly enjoy the editing process. I’m itching to continue writing my second novel, but I know that I need some discipline. To inspire me, I’ve been watching interviews on YouTube with some authors of my genre who I admire: Jane Porter, Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner, to name a few. This has actually been one of the best things that I could have done to reinvigorate my editing process.
While they all tell quite different stories, these are some of my takeaways from these inspirational ladies:
- Read: Read your genre, read outside of your genre, read the paper, read blogs, read EVERYTHING. You need to know what good writing is and what it isn’t. The best way to learn your craft is not just to pound away at the keyboard, but also to consume as much writing as possible.
- Find Your Space: I am unabashedly a coffee house fiend. The white noise calms me and helps me focus to get in the zone. For someone else they may need absolute silence. Me? I can’t write in the same room as my husband, even if he’s playing his video game WITH headphones. I need to be either on my own with noise, or around strangers with noise. Weird, yes, but it’s my perfect writing space.
- It’s Okay to Write Autobiographical: I was starting to feel self-conscious that my first novel was the cliché ‘write what you know’ novel about experiences that I have had with a character pretty similar to myself. But guess what? Most of my mentors have done the same. And they’ve sold millions of copies of their books. The lesson, though, is to make sure you don’t repeat this practice with each story. Every character needs to have their own voice, their own challenges and their own motivations.
- There Is No One Right Way: My writer’s group talks to no end about whether to plot of pants your way through a novel. It’s like we all need to find our own box. But, hey, if Emily Giffin discovers her characters through writing and Sophie Kinsella plots for weeks before starting, even the well-published authors succeed with vastly different styles.
- The Greatest Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere: Keep your eyes open! Jennifer Weiner came up with the concept for Fly Away Home by watching the Eliot Spitzer press conference – yeah, that press conference. Sophie Kinsella discovered the world of Becky Bloomwood through, you guessed it, shopping. Phenomenal stories are everywhere, but we have to be open enough to see them.
The biggest takeaway for me? There is space for all of us authors out there. We each have unique voices and stories to tell.
So… tell them.
What have you learned from your favourite authors?