Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Our question comes from Anna, an aspiring writer who wants to know what in the bojangles you're supposed to do when you get stuck. She can't seem to quite finish a novel, and also has a hard time picking between a plethora of ideas.
Anna, I feel your pain. All writers go through this.
First, let me say this - if your biggest problem is having too MANY ideas, then get down on your knees and thank the good Lord above for this problem. By far, the most important aspect of being a writer is storytelling. Coming up with ideas for those stories goes hand in hand with that. You'd be surprised how many people look in the old thinker and find nothing but slimy goo.
But you do need to focus and hunker down - pick one and go with it for awhile. If you just can't decide, then pick one randomly. You can't let that be an excuse to stop writing! You must, must, must be writing, and writing often.
Now, if your problem is thinking of ideas, I don't know how to help you. Honestly, I don't. Ask any children's author - the number one question we get from kids is: "Where do you get your ideas?" I've never been able to answer it, unfortunately. I just don't know! I mean, I guess they come from watching movies, reading books, thinking, daydreaming, etc. But I've got enough ideas in my head to write 100 books, so I'm either psychotic or very imaginative. Probably both.
Maybe it's writer's block that's killing you. That's a toughie. For me, and I promise I'm just being honest here, I don't suffer from this. Ever. I think that's because if I get stuck, I just write a different scene or start writing dreck until the muse flows again. I realize I'm not helping much.
Now for some practical advice. YOU HAVE TO FINISH ONE NOVEL. I mean it, from beginning to end. Repeat: Beginning, Middle, End, and all the little bits in between. I don't care how bad it is, I don't care how boring it is, I don't care if it makes Goosebumps look like Shakespeare (don't take that the wrong way - I love me some Goosebumps). But write and write until you can type "The End" and be done.
I Dashner Dude Guarantee you that once you accomplish this, it will become much easier to finish another one. And then another. I don't really know why, but it's true. It has something to do with confidence and practice and vision and all that. But it's true.
Also, and this is just me, but I WILL NOT ALLOW MYSELF TO EDIT while I write the first draft. Not at all. I go from beginning to end without stopping, without looking back. This has helped me so much. Creativity and storytelling is all that matters that first go around. Fix all the jive later.
Make yourself a goal. I do this every time I write a first draft. For example: I wanted to write the first go at Book 2 of The 13th Reality in 3 months. That equaled about 1,000 words a day. I met my goal and felt pretty gosh darn golly good about myself. Stephen King does 2,000 words a day when he's hot and heavy in writing mode.
Well, I'm not sure I've answered your question very well. But I tried. Any follow-ups are welcome. Also, please let us know in the comments if you have any advice for Anna.
Now, I'm off to San Antonio. Come see me at Barnes and Noble on Friday night!
Also, I have an announcement regarding agents to make very soon. I'm only waiting because I need to talk to a certain person before I go blabbing about it.
Riverwalk, here I come!
Lyrics of the Day:
Born on third, thinks he got a triple.
- Pearl Jam
Know anyone like that?
Posted by James Dashner at 2:16 PM