pandora/ipod: “shakin'” by the dandy warhols
I realized this week that for all the babbling I do on this blog, I really haven’t done anything “helpful.” And by “helpful” I don’t mean like building a bridge or planting a tree or something equally as humanitarian and altruistic and shit. I mean, I haven’t really posted anything that would be helpful to other writers, aspiring writers, hope-to-be aspiring writers and too-scared-to-even-be-hopeful about being aspiring writers out there.
Bear with me, kids. I babble a lot.
Anyway, I’m starting a new series of posts on Seanchai about the process of writing, a How-To Guide of the whole shebang, from idea to research to writing to editing to submitting. And I guess the logical place to start is…THE IDEA.
I have an idea! I have an idea for a novel!
They come to you like that, when you’re half asleep, or blow drying your hair, or stuck in traffic. An idea for a novel. Something awesome. Something epic.
Oh crap, what do I do now?
Panic not! That’s the First Rule. The Second Rule is go do some damn research. The Interwebz is an amazing place, a magical place, filled with good advice (and batshit crazy people – try and avoid them.)
My first piece of advice would be to find a Writers’ Group – online, in person, whatever. There are several forums out there that cater to writers: Verla Kay, Writers Cafe, Absolute Write (my personal fave). Explore, learn and get comfortable with the idea that writing a novel isn’t some mystical, esoteric thing. It’s real. And just about anyone can do it.
My second piece of advice would be to do some reading: in this case, some reading about writing. I learned a lot from reading about the process from other writers. Some of my fave are Stephen King’s ON WRITING, Betsy Lerner’s THE FOREST FOR THE TREES, Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD and Noah Lukeman’s THE FIRST FIVE PAGES and THE PLOT THICKENS.
You start reading about how other people write novels, and how agents and editors view them, and you realize “You can totally do this!” Basically, one foot in front of the other. Or – literally – one word in front of the other. And soon you’ll have an 80K word manuscript. Or part of one. Which is where next week’s installment comes in: CHAPTER TWO: THE RESEARCH