Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
EDIT: If you like this journal entry, check out The Sarcastic Guide to Writing ebook www.amazon.com/The-Sarcastic-G… for exclusive content on world-building, character, and dialogue!

So my last five tips on writing were rather well received. I thought I’d do another round.  I just completed my rough draft for the first book in the Hoqikep Trilogy. The Bone Path was started Halloween night and finished up yesterday, the 20th.  I logged about 95k words in about seven weeks, so all you NaNoWriMos can eat yer hearts out.  But despair not, because I’m here to offer tips on how to successfully complete a writing project.

You will NEVER “find time”. Not ever, ever, ever,  EVER.   You MAKE time to write or you do not write.  Period.  People who write get to call themselves writers, and credible writers really, actually do have completed stuff in their portfolio.  Just like artists trying to make it professionally have completed, polished stuff.  I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve met who whinge and whine about “Oh, I’d have the next Harry Potter if I could just find time.”  That is the blatting of an undisciplined wimp, and I don’t really have the patience for it.  Stephen King says find a place that has a door you can close, because it helps you focus and tells the rest of the world to leave you alone.  Considering the number of times I was interrupted by my mom with chores as a teenage writer, I sure wish I’d had a place like that.  I can guarantee you that no book, anywhere, was completed in a cozy forest nook where baskets of S’mores were delivered quietly on the doorstep, while kind but firm overseers coaxed every word gently from the writer’s mind.  Just ask J. K. Rowling.

Try to write at the same time each day.  I think everyone has their ideal times of day to write.  I am a night owl, so most of the time, I feel the urge to write anywhere between 6PM and 9PM.  I can’t operate when I have “things to do”, so the evening is the best time for me, when everything is out of the way.  I swear I can have writer's block up until that time, and then I sit down and start going.  Writing around the same time helps to develop the habit.  I’m not saying ascribe to the  exact time every day and then feel guilty when you’re five minutes late; I mean just attempt to sit down close to the slot and see what happens.  When I am working on a project, what I call “novel mode” I will feel a ping in the back of my head when its time, like a dog that knows he gets a treat the same time every night.  When I’m out of “novel mode”, I will still feel this ping from time to time, and when I feel it once too often without getting it out of my system, I get cranky.  Usually short stories fill the gap between projects; I’m still plugging away at winning Writers of the Future.

Just WRITE. I recently had to come to terms with this one, because I was suffering existential pangs of “not enjoying the process” and “not feeling the flow.”  In other words, I was being a whiny artiste’ .  Art of all kinds is work, as anyone who is as artist will tell you.  Other people coo and think its cute to work in oils on canvas or work in game design, but the folks there know that they work as hard as an architect, a doctor, or a lawyer.  In some ways, we might have it a little harder, because so much of it depends on our own self-discipline. I had a pair of short stories I had to complete before I was allowed to start work on my novel.  So I sat down, every night, and just typed something.  Whether or not it sucked, I wrote it and left it there.  And finished two 17k short stories in about two and a half weeks. And when i went back, they didn’t suck.  I’m not saying they were perfect, but they were much better then I recalled when I was pissing and moaning at the keyboard.  It taught me the lesson.  Just write. That’s all that matters.  Get the words down and worry about herding cats later.

The first draft is for you. So you might as well have fun with it. I know a lot of people,myself included, who sometimes freeze up at the idea of an audience.  Whether it’s your friends who think its rad that you write and can’t wait for your next installment, but might get pissed if a character does something they don’t like, or thinking about the Christian Ladies's Book Club and what they’ll think of your book with all that cursing in it.  Or, hell, the fact that you’re writing about talking dragons and teleporting spaceships, and what a shameful genre you write in. (Word to the wise: every genre feels this way about itself.  Writers are incredible, self-deprecating bastards.  If you don’t believe me, talk to someone who writes romance, especially chick-lit.)  So when you’re just struggling to get words on the page, you don’t need to be worrying about this stuff.  Don’t put the cart before the horse.  It ties in with the ‘just write’ rule, because sometimes its better to lumber along and crush everything in your path then to try and
dodge every obstacle you can come up with.  All it will do is drive you away from the keyboard. The first draft is for you; all subsequent drafts are for the reader.  Keep the gate shut until the time has come.

Do not share a first draft. Yeah.  I know.  You just finished.  You can’t wait to run out there to show everyone.  But guess what?  You can’t.  That’s right.  You’ve never heard the saying “writing is the loneliest profession?”  Well, now you know what it means.  Granted, this is my opinion, but show me a writer with a rough draft and I’ll show you someone who’s about to get crushed.  I particularly am a savage, brutal bitch when it comes to critiquing manuscripts.  Mean editors make good books.  (I’m sure Paolini had a very nice editor even when he got to Knopf.)  Rough drafts that have not had some plot points rearranged in the hopes of garnering more tension, had some adverbs axed, or even looked over for typos is like walking out for a beauty contest half-dressed.  You are doomed to fail.  And most often, the harshest critic of the writing is person who wrote it, and all we’re doing is holding it out, cringing and saying, "Please validate me!”  It won’t happen.  I firmly believe that all writers have to get to a point where they themselves are confident in their own ability.  It’s too easy for that fragile aesthetic to get crushed, and most often, it happens because the person was not ready for critique. They didn’t like themselves enough yet, and tried to find someone who would reassure them.  But that scenario, even when it works out, doesn’t help anybody.  (Ask Paolini!)  You have to toughen yourself up first.  When you start thinking you’re Shakespeare, then you’re ready for critique, because your confidence can take a few blows and still limp back with enough impetus to write some more.  I do not show my first drafts to anyone.  For me, it’s more like my third or fourth, but that’s not an every-rule.  Let the completed sit, long enough for the words to be strange and alien to you.  (For me, that’s about six weeks.)  Read back over it, and let the rewrites begin!
  • Listening to: The Colbert Report
  • Reading: Needful Things by Stephen King
  • Watching: Too many romantic comedies
Add a Comment:
 
:iconnekofluffybutt:
nekofluffybutt Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2011  Student General Artist
I agree with a lot of tips given in this journal. Mainly with 3rd rule or... um tip? I just feel so frighten whenever I pick up a pencil and start writing and it's for just about everything, journals, essays, poems, addreess, phone numbers everything involving writing ( I do like rp-ing though) but if I picked up that same pencil ad started to draw I am at absolute peace and everything is fine! I have bette results doodling than in serious writing.

But thank you for the advice here, and do you have any advice, tips... rules for getting over this fear writing. I have a comic planned but like I said I rather draw the character and mentally imagine it because I can't seem to write it out. I really don't want to sound like I'm whining but it's nerve-racking at times.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011
The only real answer I have for getting over fear of writing is to write for yourself. Don't sit down with the intention of writing for someone else, don't sit down with a bunch of negative thoughts, and don't write with the intention to show it to somebody. They call writing the loneliest profession for a reason, and if you're not writing for yourself and only you, you're not going to get very far. By and large, writing rarely gives any other reward than personal satisfaction. I don't show my writing to anyone unless it's had a rewrite or two. Expecting your writing to be perfect enough to show someone on the first try is a dream; it doesn't happen that way. Writing is rewriting. When you're satisfied, then try showing it to someone. But that may take a while; I wrote 5 novels before I was willing to show my writing to someone else for critique.
Reply
:iconnekofluffybutt:
nekofluffybutt Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011  Student General Artist
Thanks :) I'll try to someday. And yeah your right but I doubt I ever thought my writing would ever be good enough first try, perhaps for clingy support. I doubt I write five novels in my life though better for crit sooner then xD
Reply
:iconbeabae:
BeaBae Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011  Student General Artist
I have to say, even though I've read very similar pieces of advice before, you put them in much better terms and made them much more entertaining to read.

"When you start thinking you’re Shakespeare, then you’re ready for critique, because your confidence can take a few blows and still limp back with enough impetus to write some more" < -- we had a whole class one day on how much Shakespeare probably had to go through to get his plays out. I think it made everyone in the room feel much better about themselves.

But now that you've called yourself a brutal critique-r I really have to ask if, those who feel they've stopped taking baby steps in writing and would like help learning to run, would you be willing to lend a critique or two?
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
I wish I had the time to critique, but I'm afraid I can't. You might try posting on the A forums that you are looking for a serious crit partner. There are lots of people out there just as serious about getting good as you are. In fact, I found one my best friends that way.
Reply
:iconbeabae:
BeaBae Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011  Student General Artist
Aw, well. Thanks at least for the advice. I've been trying to find someone to seriously critique my work for a while and it's getting to the point where I'm about to give up. ^^; I'll check out the A Forums, though. Thanks.
Reply
:iconsarch:
sarch Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010  Hobbyist Artist
great!!
Reply
:iconecho-impulsivesound:
Echo-impulsivesound Featured By Owner May 4, 2010
this helped thankyou
Reply
:iconmimozablooming:
MimozaBlooming Featured By Owner May 3, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Can you post your 5 tips series as deviations? Would be so awesome to be able to collect them...
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner May 3, 2010
I posted them as news articles, but that's about it. ;)
Reply
:icondarkn2ght:
darkn2ght Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2010
thank you, for sharing your words of wisdom! i very much appreciate it, as now and then i have been feeling frustrated over progress and quality of work.am saving all your 5 tips class into my notepad.and yes, i do agree with you on your point to just do it and bugger pundits! -_- they are...an obstruction to progress and development at times...XD
Reply
:iconashien:
Ashien Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2010
RE: #5, somewhat #4.

That relies on how good a first draft you produce, no? Then there's the skill level of the writer, and the company you share it with.

I know people with pretty good first drafts, and bad, and I've seen them share both; the community I'm with isn't going to tear a story - and a writer - apart for the sake of it. Whilst the good first drafts still needed some work, and the bad first drafts needed a lot of work, some of those people wouldn't have known what to work on without sharing it.

In my opinion, good responses to first drafts offer suggestions; people who say, "this is how you should do it" when talking about the story are not good responders.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner May 5, 2010
Stephen King recommends not showing a first draft ; I ascribe to that rule myself. I've found that for the most part, by the time I take my six week hiatus and read back through things, I know what I need to fix. Therefore, it's not necessarily productive for me to get a second opinion when they're just going to point out the stuff I already know. A second draft, however, is where my certainty ends and the reader's opinion starts to have some weight. Conversely, introducing new problems to solve when you don't even have typos or something like character consistency in hand is asking for trouble; you're already herding cats, now you're just asking them to stampede.
If someone feels their first draft is worth showing, I'll show you a writer who's about to get slammed. It's one thing to ask for help with a story problem; something else entirely to plunk a draft down in front of readers and ask them to solve story problems the writer should've at least tackled twice or thrice.
But that's just my opinion. None of these rules are hard and fast, and whatever works for a writer works. Who am I to question the process?
Reply
:iconutaunna:
Utaunna Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2010
"your confidence can take a few blows and still limp back with enough impetus to write some more."


Haha, so true. And I like the tip about not writing the first draft for yourself. I don't write a lot of stuff 'cause I'm paranoid of what people will think if they read it. Not because I'm afraid it till be bad, but 'cause maybe, just maybe...I might write something a bit bolder than sunshine and daises. And I don't like offending people (a double standard of mine 'cause I also don't give a flying donkey's butt half the time; can't seem to pick a side or even a middle ground, lol).

And...I don't have the time to write. XD rofl Maybe I'll get off my lazy butt and make the time this year. I left my job, yay! Though...usually people write while they're -on- their butt. So...maybe I should stay on my lazy butt and write? XD
Reply
:iconalex-duma:
Alex-Duma Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2009
Duly noted. I don't write, but these tips seem really useful. Maybe I'll give writing a try sometime.
Reply
:iconkrystle-tears:
krystle-tears Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009  Professional Interface Designer
Why do I have sudden, horrible flashbacks of my DP posts on Kiara's Sahifa?
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009
Hey, if you sucked, I was right there with ya. Half the reason I forum RPed was to improve my writing!
Reply
:iconkrystle-tears:
krystle-tears Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009  Professional Interface Designer
:P The good ol' days.

Or was it the bad ol' days.

Neither would surprise me.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2009
I'm inclined to say it was both. :)
Reply
:iconfanatical-chick:
fanatical-chick Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
I find the fourth rule is possibly one of the most important. When I wrote a short-story excerpt from my novel for a class, it came out TERRIBLE, because I was constantly worried about whether it would offend people at first. Even after I decided to say "fuckitall," it still came out pretty badly, because I was just so concerned with whether my protagonist couple would make people frown at Tech even though I was trying to write for myself. Conservative West Texas isn't such a nurturing place for themes that don't fit in with what they see as the norm.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009
Ha! When I went to my agents and editors conference this last summer, there was a guy at our round-table pitching session who had a book about gays in the military being secretly set up by a homophobic general and senator. The general was the protagonist of the story, and the guy sounded like he was from deep West Texas. Needless to say, he got a lot stunned, blank looks (this is Austin, TX, and we, uh, like-a da gays, so to speak) and a lot of the agents cut him off about halfway through. One lady was like "I don't like him. I don't wanna read about him. Next!"
So, if it's any comfort, they can be fish out of water, too.
Reply
:iconfanatical-chick:
fanatical-chick Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009
oh, L.M.A.O! At least that gives me confidence that maybe when I finish it and start looking for a place to publish, it won't be so "OMGRACY!"

Speaking of Austin, are you in Austin, now? I just moved here last winter, and I have to say, I'm looooving the more-liberal atmosphere. I didn't think it was that bad in Lubbock until I moved here.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009
You poor thing! Yes, I live right outside of North Austin. I went to Texas Tech University for 2 semesters, and it was pretty shocking. The liberal atmo is sooooo much nicer. We're like an island.
Reply
:iconredmagesalyre:
Redmagesalyre Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
The first one is always something I actually had big time, especially when I was working half time at stores with weird hours. Especially during the Holidays, I could never write or I would get something and forget about it in the next couple of days or I would have someone look over my shoulder when I was trying to write or have someone ask "ohh, what are you writing/what is it about/maybe you should do this or that" it can get on the nerves and it hurts. Probably serves me right for trying to write during breaks.
Reply
:iconaen-riv:
Aen-Riv Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
I especially agree about not sharign the first draft. Otherwise you'll have too many co-authors who'll flood their own wishes and ideas into your head, and it will no longer be your story, but rather a collab. This, and it takes individuality and independent thinking away from you. If I were to compare it to drawing, I'd say that it will look something like this:
"Hey! I'm going to make a painting of a Spiderman versus Otto Octavian in the lab environment. What colors and what dynamics do you think I should use?"
It's just that.. a first draft is a fragile thing, and changes made to it can affect too many things :XD:
Reply
:iconomniwitch:
OmniWitch Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Professional Writer
I recognize a few of these from King's book. They're good tips. Now to apply them, ahhh.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
Hey, no book can work miracles, but I think King came pretty close.
Reply
:iconomniwitch:
OmniWitch Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Professional Writer
True that. Hey, did you ever get any short stories or anything published? I'm just curious it you got your name out there yet.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009
No, not yet. I've had some illustrations published, but no short stories. I"m actually much better at the writing part of things than the marketing part of things. I need to get better about it.
Reply
:iconomniwitch:
OmniWitch Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009  Professional Writer
Ah, well that's something at least, yeah?
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
at this point i'm up for even a 'crushing' review of a 'rough' draft! because i've got a 10th draft, and no one willing to read it!! ;p
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
Oh, it's Xmas, isn't it? Send me your first chapter; I'll see what I can do for it. Not me for my email.
Reply
:iconyoski:
yoski Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh dear god, how I wish you could read Spanish... do you know how difficult is to find someone willing to help me edit in my mother language? TOT
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
awesome! :) thnx much.
Reply
:icondaystareclipse:
DaystarEclipse Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Student General Artist
The trouble I have is my best ideas come when I'm almost asleep and just laying there half-thinking. It's such a pain when you're trying to sleep.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
That's what the little notebooks on your nightstand are for.
I also ascribe tot he Terry Brooks rule: if the idea doesn't stay with you for more than 24 hours, it probably wasn't worth it in the first place.
Reply
:iconmirime-duinram:
mirime-duinram Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
All of these are good tips. When I clicked on this I thought, 'hope the butt-in-chair rule is in here' and then of course it was, right at the top. Whenever people tell me they're gonna write a novel someday (or even better, 'I have this great idea! You write it for me, and we'll split the profits!';) I just laugh. Ideas are easy. Ideas are cheap. Self-discipline and work are the hard parts.

That said, I am procrastinating on my obnoxious picking-through-the-plot-with-a-nit-comb stage before I start on exhaustive rewrites. Whoopee.
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
Hey, jockeying plot points into position is a very important part of rewriting.
Reply
:iconmirime-duinram:
mirime-duinram Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
So I have to tell myself. Otherwise, it just devolves into juvenile "writing is haaaaaaaaard" internal monologues and those just don't get anything done.
Reply
:iconlorenith:
Lorenith Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think "just write" is the best thing ever, even if you're writing crap, it goes really well with "first draft is yours" cause if you write without thinking about anyone else seeing it it's easier to not get dragged down by worries of the quality, that's what editing and revising is for (to me anyway).

I've never written much before in my life (I fail at finishing things sadly because of fear of messing it up). But the one time I sat and said to myself I don't care I just want to write something and have fun! A got more of a story written out than I have ever done at any point in my life. I still didn't quite finish it, but eh baby steps, I have to willpower myself to finish something rather than falling back to my comfort zone of not finishing...

It's still hard though, I'm the sort of person that has to sit there with the document open all day and pick at it as thoughts come to me (yes I have a lot of time on my hands, a minor break from college will do that). Sometimes I might write a couple thousand words in just an hour or two (I bet that's probably peanuts to you) but I dunno. I think it would take a really long time to get myself trained to sit and write during only a designated time. No time like the present to get started though...
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
A couple thousand words in an hour? That's not peanuts!
Reply
:iconlorenith:
Lorenith Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Mind you that only happens very rarely, like maybe 2-3 times in a month of writing every single day. Most of the time it's anywhere from just 600 words to a little over 3000 in 12 hours. XD
Reply
:iconsenkaaudra:
Senkaaudra Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009   Writer
^ ^ It feels good to see people paying attention to writing, first I've seen in my one year on DA. Heheh, probably just don't look cause I'm lazy >>; Heheh. Anyway, I wanted to ask do you think its bad that you can write anytime of the day? Like, when you just things pop into mind and you can't ignore it cause it builds in your mind gradually till you just have to write it? Or do you think, you should just keep it locked away to you can get to a scheduled time like you advised? And last two rules, could you elaborate more? Or just maybe give more? I don't know, I just like to hear words from a more experienced writer since I'm young and still trying to get there. And you words, outta anyone else I talk to, actually make sense. And I can grasp them, and they get through to me. ^ ^
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
I think someone who can write anytime without procrastinating is great. Go for it. Most people aren't that lucky, and most people have a hard time with that kind of self-discipline. I don't presume to tell anyone how their process should work, all that matters is that you're getting it down.
The last two rules are basically warning against over-thinking the rough draft and rushing it into critique. Manuscripts need time to "incubate", to be set aside for a while so that you can come back to it with a clearer mindset. I don't think anyone can finish a rough draft and then turn around and be able to objectively say what's good and what's not. You need a break from it.
Reply
:iconsenkaaudra:
Senkaaudra Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009   Writer
Ooooh, okies. Thank you so much for the advise! :]
IF I may, if you make about of your Tips, you should write something about those who have trouble finishing a project or a story.(Something I have trouble with ;P)
Reply
:iconneilak20:
neilak20 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Once again I wish I could favorite individual journal entries! This is a great help, as a writer/artist for me. ^_^ Alot of this (if not ALL) of your 5 tips can be applied to comics too. :P
I gotta stop worrying and whining about stuff and just get it finished! *determined eyes*
Thanks for posting this journal! ^_^
Reply
:iconinstantoatmeal13:
InstantOatmeal13 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
I love your Paolini bashing. It makes me so happy you would not believe.
8D

Also, great tips. Other than NaNoWriMo, I don't really write at all, but reading this is not only helpful, but somewhat inspiring.
8)
Reply
:icongoredguar:
GoredGuar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
THANK YOU so much for this! :heart:

And are you publishing your Hoqikep Trilogy? - because from what I've heard (and seen in your drawings as well) it looks to be a VERY good read. :}
Reply
:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009
That's the hope someday. It's a ways off, though; the world isn't even a year old. My other stuff is about 8 or 9 years old and has much more solid plot. However, I learned a lot with this draft, and I'm excited to go back and apply what I learned to my urban and high fantasy worlds.
Reply
:iconlochingbird:
Lochingbird Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Student General Artist
THANK YOU! Now I might finally get to finishing my characters and actually start to WRITE my story! You also stopped me from a humiliating breakdown with the last rule. I should have learned by now that getting critiques right after finishing isn't good for my confidence.
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:icondroemar: More from Droemar


Featured in Collections

Tutorials, Steps, Resources by JiechuLieren

Writing by Iggwilv

tutorials and references by AtlantaTheAristocrat


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
December 21, 2009
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
2,920
Favourites
25 (who?)
Comments
54
×