Tag Archives: lessons learned

30 day novel

For those who have not heard, I was inspired by the national novel writing month. I thought, what better way to get started writing? I was right; it was a good way to start. Unfortunately for me, I have never been much of a writer or reader for that matter.

Lessons Learned – I will blog in more detail later about these 7 lessons, but for now here they are.

1st – Good stories take time. Most of the 30 days I was developing mythology, history, and learning who my characters are. Now that I know I can start telling the story.

2nd – I lost heart about chapter 5. I had a good story, but I could see my ability to translate that story into words was weak.

3rd – I am more creative when I am happy than when I am stressed or afraid. It was hard to find my voice from stress and fear of failure.

4th – It is very helpful to have support when you lose faith in yourself. Someone who can put things into perspective and cheer you on.

5th – Even though I didn’t like what I produced, it is not wasted. Even if I have to remove those chapters from my book. I learned about some of my characters, my writing style, my mistakes and can improve now that I know.

6th – The rules for entertaining are very different when your performance is dependent on the words you choose for your book, than the visuals, lighting, music and sounds on the stage.  I need to take time to learn how to apply entertaining rules to writing.

7th – Disabilities can be a strength if we let them. You can’t let anything hold you back.  Being unique can attract new readers.

Life Happens – Just because I want to write a book in 30 days doesn’t mean life stops or even slows down.

1st – Some times life gets busier. Christmas time is not the best month for me to take on a 30 day novel. I want to have family time more than writing time.

2nd – I home school my toddler, preschooler, and kindergartener. Finding time to write with 3 kids under 6 can be difficult; add homeschooling to the mix and it can be near impossible.

3rd – Starting more than one writing goal in the same month can be overwhelming. I also decided to start blogging this December. Consequently I spent most of my writing time blogging not noveling. I have heard that blogging is kind of like a warm up for the big things like a novel.  So I don’t feel bad about it.

4th – Another factor that was difficult for me was the fact that this novel was to be a gift for my husband. I was not able to create with him or share really any of my story ideas with him. I have found I am more creative when I have someone to create with me and bounce ideas off of.

So Now What?

Although I did not start and finish a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I am happy with what I accomplished. It was what I needed to get started. I will someday tell the story I found in those 30 days, but for now it is not the most pressing goal I have in my life right now. I need to raise my kids and practice my writing and get blogging. Yes I will continue to work on my story but it will be a year-long project this next year.  I have a great start and look forward to finding the rest of the story.  What are the lessons you learned or advice you would give to a beginning author?

Rewriting Hamlet

My senior year of high school, we studied Hamlet in English class.  Of all the Shakespearean play we studied, it was definitely my favorite, but I didn’t like the end.  Of course, I didn’t want everyone to die, especially Hamlet.  I mean, he has worked all throughout the play to avenge his father’s murder, and has finally succeeded.  Then he dies?  Even worse for me was Fortinbras.  Who was this guy?  He didn’t even make an appearance until the very end, and he gets to just walk on the stage in the last scene and become the king?  It bothered me.  I thought Hamlet and Fortinbras should at least meet.  So when the teacher assigned us to write an essay about Hamlet, I instead rewrote the last scene.  In the process, I learned a couple things about writing.

Small Changes

I ended up keeping virtually all of the dialog from the original, and I only added one or two lines.  And yet, by simply rearranging the lines, that part of the story progressed in different direction.  I learned that very small changes can make a very profound difference to the final story.  There are two ways that this can affect writing.  First, if something isn’t working, a major overhaul may not be necessary to fix it.  Second, rewriting is a art, and if I’m not careful, I could change a lot more than I expect.

Being True

The biggest thing that I learned, however, was that I couldn’t make all the changes I wanted to.  I originally imagined Hamlet fighting (and defeating) Fortinbras, staying alive, and becoming the king.  As I tried to write it, I realized that it really wouldn’t work that way.  The story had been leading in a certain direction, and I couldn’t change it all unless I went back and rewrote the whole play.  In the end, although I had Hamlet fight Fortinbras and beat him, Hamlet still died.  Fortinbras still became the king.  Writing is about finding the story, not forcing it to be what I want.