Every month at Aussie Owned and Read we have certain things we post on certain days. This month I chose the advice post, and I’ve been thinking long and hard about what advice I can give that I haven’t attempted to do so already or that someone else hasn’t also done. Sometimes I feel as if I have given everything I have to offer, and the challenge of coming up with something new becomes just that, a real challenge. So, this month I want to take a more personal approach, and tell everyone what’s been going on in my writing world, and how I’ve coped with all the things that get tossed my way.
There are three pieces of advice I hear constantly when it comes to writing, and being a writer, and I want to share how they have helped me.
Write what you know
Just recently I finished the second instalment of The Tate Chronicles, Fight For Me, and I sent it off to my beta readers. This book has been a really hard slog for me. I stumbled over a few hurdles along the way, and I got to a point many times where I questioned what I was doing, and if my writing was good enough to see the light of day. I ended up having to take a step back and ask myself, why am I writing this story? Once I figured that out, everything came more easily than it did before. I was writing it for me, and I was writing about places I’d been to, feelings I’d experienced, and characters I’d fallen in love with. This is where the ‘write what you know’ advice resonated with me. I’ve spent so much time with Grace, and Josh, and Seth, and all the others, that they have become real people (yes, I know that makes me sound a little crazy), and because I know them so well, they ended up guiding me through their story, instead of me forcing them along a path they didn’t want to take. When it comes to setting, even though the places my characters live in and visit are fictional, they are heavily based on real places. This is such a good base for creating story and events, and because I’ve renamed towns and cities I can put things where I want them, and adapt real features to fit my fictional setting. In terms of feelings and emotions, everything my characters go through, whether they are happy, sad, madly in love, or hate someone passionately, it all stems from my own experiences. I believe that what we have encountered throughout our lives, where we’ve been, who we’ve met, and what we’ve felt, all contribute greatly to our writing. Our experiences add that wonderful authenticity to our stories. I think the advice ‘write what you know’ is a pretty good place to start.
Write every day
In the past I have been guilty of not following this one, and I would have weeks where I wouldn’t write anything. Those weeks sucked. I’d get grumpy, and snap at my family. I love writing, and I find that when I’m doing it I’m a much happier person. I’m currently studying my BA at university, and I did Creative Writing last semester. This was the most amazing experience, and it gave me the opportunity to really get connected with my writing. I went back to the old-fashioned method of pen and paper, and I enjoyed it so much I really noticed the change within myself. When I take the time to write every day I find all the other things that need doing also (magically) get done. Maybe it’s because I’ve become more organised, and have learnt to manage my time better. I may not be adding words to my WIPs on a day to day basis, but every piece of writing counts. Even if it’s just a line or two in a notebook, a piece of conversation I want to remember, a blog post, or a short poem. The habit of being creative every day is good for the heart and the soul. When I finally got myself into the routine of sitting down to write, I found that my writing took on a new dimension. It came more easily because I didn’t have big gaps between writing sessions, and I could remember where I was up to and not have to waste time reading over things to get back into the groove. I still miss a day or so here and there, but I’m doing what I love, and I’m so lucky to be able to do it on a regular basis.
As Stephen King says in On Writing, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
I totally agree with this in every way possible. I’ve heard people say there are no new ideas, only old ones rehashed in some way. Based on the infinite number of books in the world, that is probably true, but isn’t that half the fun? Finding new and unique ways of writing the same story? Everything I take in when I read gets filed away into my subconscious, and when I write this information can really help in a lot of ways. I love getting lost in a good book, finding out how other authors do things, and exploring the worlds they create. I believe my writing is so much better for the amount of reading I do. I always aim to read at least one book a week throughout the year. For some that isn’t much, and for others it’s a huge number. But my point is, in order for us as writers to be able to use our imaginations to their fullest we need to explore what others have imagined before us. I can’t expect myself to be good at writing unless I practice, and observe. While Fight For Me has been with betas the past week, I’ve done a lot of reading, and it’s filled me up with so much love for the craft.
What are your thoughts on these three pieces of common advice? Have they helped you in any way? What are some others that have?
K. A. Last is the YA author of Fall For Me, Sacrifice and Immagica. She drinks lots of tea, is obsessed with Buffy, and loves all things pink. K. A. Last hangs out on Facebook or you can find her on twitter and Goodreads. She’s also been known to blog once in a while. And yes, she has cut all her hair off!