Sneaky gremlins snuck errors in your text? A writer’s path inevitably leads to literary misery? Surely not! On locating the most usual traps for new authors and how to safely steer around them on your literary journey: novum publishing offers writing tips for new authors and everyone with the ambition to become one in the first part of their series „Creative Writing for Writers“.
The endeavor of writing a book in and of itself is quite an enormous task. Thinking, typing, jotting, writing, pondering, failing, rejecting and starting all over again – the ever-so idle process of writing can be a tedious journey: right from the preamble up to the absolution to be found in the two little words “the End”. Many though already succumb to the silent creative threat that is the notorious blank page, which, in its sheer endless and pristine whiteness, has forced legions of ambitious writers to their knees. It makes a lot of sense, if you stop and think about it: Hardly anything is more intimidating than the mute whiteness of a single sheet of untouched paper, silently issuing a dare to face and question yourself, your story, your characters – and not only the fictional ones, mind you – and, of course, your own basic substance.
Luckily for all bibliophiles, bookworms and bookish philosophers there exists an indomitable and exclusive circle of authors with quite a few tricks up their sleeves – and they are willing to share so that your literary journey does not end with page one, killing of the stream of words shortly before its peak. We at novum publishing happen to have the best connections to the most savant of writers and have taken it upon ourselves to start our quest for the most vexing of ambushing gremlins all new authors might encounter. What we found, how to locate its hiding places, how to avoid it and, even more so, how to stifle it in the bud – all that and more you can find from now on in our series “A Beginner’s Guide to Creative Writing”. In the first part of our series we will unveil three of the most irritating sources of errors.
Tips and tricks for writers:
- Plan all or nothing: Mark Twain used to say that “Who sets out to do many things will find many opportunities to fail”. True words from a wise author that lead us to the conclusion that, while it definitely cannot hurt to stick to a certain scheme when writing, it is smart to never lose sight of the fact that fiction is often closer to reality than one might think: as we all can attest to, in life things rarely run according to plan. So dear readers and writers, when in the process of creative writing, lay out your plan and use it as a guideline, but stay open to the occasional detour. Embrace it, even – it might just prove to be what your story and you needed!
How many writers have already fallen prey to their own creative boundaries, bestowing limits upon their fantasy before it could come to its full fruition? A few basics like an exposé of your work (much like a scientific exposé) a storyboard outlining the main conflict, characters and plot, as well as a standard page including the format guidelines, which can be of enormous help during the editing process, might just become your much needed literary lifeline.
Creative minds, however, should always be heedful not to lock themselves in a cage of their own making and be open to be surprised by themselves every now and then. When all is said and done, individual personality is playing a huge role in the creative approach to writing as well. John Irving is known never to start a book without knowing the very last sentence beforehand. Others, like the publicist Susan Sontag for example, are in favor of a more intuitive style in writing, as it is giving the story more opportunity to unfold freely.
- Perfect Imperfection: Being high value is a good thing, but if you do not accept anything less than utter perfection from yourself, you might as well drop your writer’s quill for good – right here and right now. To quote the Czech writer Pavel Kosorin, “Never believe for one moment that something you did was done perfectly –all motivation to continue would be lost to you!” Perfectionism is the best of friends with the feared writer’s block. Pressuring oneself to the point of complete and utter inaction or even the inability to get a single sentence to paper are afflictions that many writers are only too familiar with. If written perfection in your work becomes more important than the process of writing at all, it often leads to a vicious cycle of thoughts. Writers to whom this affinity for blocking through perfectionism sounds even vaguely familiar should take a few things to heart:
Classic writers such as Goethe, Hemingway and their lot truly are fabulous role models, for sure – but if you start and use them and their work as your unwavering benchmark right away, you are bound to be disappointed soon. Prestigious nobel prize winners are intimidating models to emulate, after all, and if you do not give yourself and your work the proper time to evolve, many promising projects might end up in your drawer before they have ever seen the light of day – or the eye of a critic, for that matter. So, a crucial element of our advice for new writers and authors alike definitely is to abstain from comparing oneself with the great masters (at least not at the very start).
The Pareto Principle, too, is a very useful tool to lift a heavy burden from any writer’s soul. Deriving from economical sciences, it was named after Italian economist Vilfred Pareto and states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. If with 20% of the work you can attain 80% of a satisfying result, why go too many extra miles and risk the possibility of getting lost along the way? It might sound astounding, but if you put too much of an effort into one single (side) project, that just might happen and you end up clinging onto details that are effectively irrelevant to the end result. Moreover, the perfectionist obsession with minor aspects of your creative work can easily result in a slowdown of pace up to a complete and total standstill, which then results in your feeling frustration instead of joy.
For all the doubters with an active affinity for literature, take notes, as the Pareto formula is also applicable for authors! Sounds unbelievable? Let us prove our point:
Just take a look at Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”: the parabola’s incomparable charm does not lie in its complexity – quite to the contrary! It is the simplicity of the language in the story and one of the main reasons why this work earned Hemingway his Nobel prize in 1954.
- Better to be active than passive: One of the most common mistakes in any story is the protagonist’s passivity. If a story exudes an air of accidental whimsy, as if there was little thought given to it and the main character was gifted more by happenstances than its writer’s genius, readers will have a hard time relating to them. The punishment for all too passive plots, which are characteristically led by coincidence rather than their protagonist, is the audience’s disinterest. It makes a lot of sense – what sort of personal growth, which lessons do you take with you as a reader if the main character of the book you are reading does not captivate you, enchant you or relate to you in any way, on any level? So it figures that, to escape the passivity trap before your reader turns the last page unfulfilled, new authors should devise a clever plan and strategy for themselves.
Stay tuned for the next episode of our very own novum publishing’s series “ A Beginner’s guide to Creative Writing 2” to learn more about typical traps and easy errors to be avoided in creative writing, as well as to receive practical tips and tricks for writers and new authors.
You are in the process of writing a book or are itching to type away on your very first big story? For further information please visit our sections “Writing Workshop” or request a copy of our “Informations for new authors” which you can get for free on our homepage.
Let your keyboard run free!