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Entries in Rachel Aaron (2)


Writing advice: Triangles both efficient and enthusiastic

Since I got such a great response to my post "Don't write what you don't love to write," I thought I'd share with you the notes I took while reading Rachel Aaron's book.

The basic thrust behind 2K to 10K is that we can all significantly boost our daily writing output if we eliminate or significantly mitigate the parts of the writing process that make us want to beat our goddamn heads against our desks. (My words, not hers.)

Sounds suspiciously credible, right? Aaron uses the metaphor of a triangle:

Side one: Knowledge.

  • Before your writing session, spend at least five minutes writing out the broad strokes of your scene or chapter on a pad of paper. No description, no transitions, no dialogue—you're just working out the hard choices. Who does what and when? And then what?

Side two: Time. 

  • Make note of when you start writing, when you stop, how many words you wrote in that time, where you were writing, etc. Eventually, you may learn from this data (I refuse to use "data" in the plural sense) that your prime writing time is not, say, in the morning as you thought, but rather late in the evening. You may learn that you get a lot more done writing in your laundry room with underwear on your head than at a coffee shop. (The book did not say this. Here I am just being silly, and not at all speaking from personal experience.)

Side three: Enthusiasm.

  • Before writing the scene or chapter, play it out in your mind and try to get excited about it. Look for little hooks, parts that interest you most, and focus on those.
  • If the scene is not working for you, either revise or trash it and find one that does.

I charge you, intrepid writer, to try one or more of these out this weekend and let me know how to goes. Perhaps you might even attempt a story about God's favorite who falls and does not know it?

And if you found any of this useful, Rachel Aaron's book, 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, will cost you one whole dollar on the Amazon Kindle store right now. Well worth it, even if you don't have a Kindle. That shit also works on your computer. Didn't know that, didja?

...Okay, fine, you already knew that.

Have a great weekend, and see you either Sunday or Monday!


Don't write what you don't love to write

So... I think I've realized something. I mentioned before about how I'm trying to write the first book of an eventual fantasy epic series? Well, I've been doing that, and have plodded my way almost to the end of chapter 1. Only 2,503 words in something like two weeks. Very slow going, but I want to be a Real Writer and so I have perservered. 

A few nights ago, however, I was at the library after work. I had every intention of gaining some ground on this book I have told myself I'm going to write. Instead, for two and a half hours, I did every possible thing except writing: I stared at my note pad forlornly, I got up and browsed the stacks, I tried to get three stars on two different levels of Angry Birds Star Wars, I stared at my notepad morosely, I started to fall asleep, and finally I pulled out the Kindle and began re-reading Rachel Aaron's 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. This book is great and I highly recommend it to anyone who's interested giving their writing process an oil change. 

But this passage in particular struck me:

One of the hardest things I've had to learn as a writer is that while virtually any story can be a good book if done correctly, not every story should. It's possible to have an amazing idea and still lack the interest necessary to polish it to publication level shine. I can not tell you the number of books I've plotted, written 30K words in, and then abandoned because I simply could not stand to look at them another second. Every single one of these ideas looked great on paper, and maybe in another author's hands they could have been golden, but in the end I just didn't care enough to push through.


Even if you're not selling your stories yet, your writing time is precious, often gained at the expense of other worthwhile activities. Don't waste it on a book you don't love.

Get the book here. It's only $0.99 on Amazon right now and you can read it on your computer if you don't have an e-reader. It's short but revelatory. Just how I like 'em.

Anyway, while reading the passage above something began to dawn on me: I don't know that I have ever enjoyed writing fiction!

Like everyone else, I came to writing as a reader first. Lord of the Rings and the Dragonlance Chronicles probably saved my life in middle school. Later, it was Shadowrun and the Belgariad series... the point is, I loved fantasy and science ficiton. I wanted to become a writer to write exactly these kind of books, and then in college genre fiction was kind of beaten out of me, and now, almost ten years later, I've finally returned to what brought me here in the first place.

Except... I don't wanna. Through this blog, I've discovered that I really enjoy (and am possibly even talented at) nonfiction. I've also rediscovered playwrighting and have had some success with that. But I can't think of a single instance where I really enjoyed the process of writing prose fiction. I've turned procrastination into a master art form these post-college years, and I'm beginning to wonder now if a large part of that was my resistance to writing something it wasn't in my heart to write.

I do recognize that things worth doing are sometimes difficult, and that, when starting out, you have to allow yourself to suck for awhile and just do the work anyway, but I understand now that this isn't an aversion to hard work or a self-defeating fear of what might happen when I really tryit's a lack of interest. Maybe it's okay for me to read these books I enjoyed so much, but to be a writer who writes something else entirely?

So I'm putting the book down, and I'm focusing instead on my nonfiction and playwrighting, which comes much more easily to me and brings me such joy. 

How about you? Had any trajectory-altering revelations lately?