Thursday, July 16, 2009

Write Your Novel with the Door Closed

When I talk with aspiring authors, there are certain bits of advice I find myself repeating. Close the door, I tell them. Emotionally, close the door. Stop asking people what they think. At the point you are before you ever finish a manuscript, what people thinks does not matter. There are no exceptions so don’t worry about it. Close the door. And write.

You will worry about other things. Learn how to let go. You will worry if you’ve chosen the right point of view for your story. The right era. The correct tense. You will worry if the tone is even. Most of all, if you have the tiniest shred of talent, you will worry that you’re not up to the task of writing fiction. That you are presuming beyond presumption to even take a run at it.

Close your mind to the worry. Realize that those haunting -- and sometimes taunting -- voices have no power. Close your mind. Close the door. And write.

And write.

If you do this, one day you will have a book. There’s just no getting away from it. If you close the door and write one day you’ll have a first draft in your hands. Now you are in a more powerful position. The words of others can do less harm. More: you can read your work and begin to edit. You can look for the connections your subconscious will have made when you created the work. You can look for the weak points and you can congratulate yourself for the parts that are beautiful. And strong.

And if, while you wrote, you ever wondered if what you were writing was even and consistent and if you would -- or even could -- hit the tone you wanted in just the right way, when you read your completed first draft, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how far away you aren’t. Oh, your work will need editing: of course it will. Everyone -- everyone -- does. But if you close the door and give rein to your own power -- and try very hard not to look over your shoulder -- you will surprise yourself. Everything you need to tell your story? You already have it, deep inside.