Day Four. Twenty-six more to go.
How’s your 50,000-word novel coming along, NaNoWriMo writers? Are you on top of things? Is your desk equipped and distraction-free, like this teenager’s cool writing space? Have you been crunching out those 1,667 words every day by using a NaNoWriMo-calendar-and-word-count tracker, like this one with a Doctor-Who theme? (Yes, I’m a Whovian.) Or is the pressure making you use this, um, other tool?
If it’s the latter, take that thing out. Now breathe. Make a cup of your favourite tea or coffee.
Next, read those quotes below that I’ve put together for you. Seasoned writers wrote them for our benefit, because they’ve been where we are now. Let their words sink in. Know that you’ve got what it takes.
You got this!
26 Writing Tips + Advice for the Next 26 Days… and Beyond
“A word after a word after a word is power.” ― Margaret Atwood
“Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” ― Toni Morrison
“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” ― Joss Whedon
“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic.” ― Arundhati Roy
“You can fix anything but a blank page.” ― Nora Roberts
“If you tell the reader that Bull Beezley is a brutal-faced, loose-lipped bully, with snake’s blood in his veins, the reader’s reaction may be, ‘Oh, yeah!’ But if you show the reader Bull Beezley raking the bloodied flanks of his weary, sweat-encrusted pony, and flogging the tottering, red-eyed animal with a quirt, or have him booting in the protruding ribs of a starved mongrel and, boy, the reader believes!” — Fred East
“If you have a story that seems worth telling, and you think you can tell it worthily, then the thing for you to do is to tell it, regardless of whether it has to do with sex, sailors or mounted policemen.” — Dashiell Hammett
“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.” — Lawrence Block
“Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.” — Leslie Gordon Barnard
“The first draft of anything is shit.” ― Ernest Hemingway
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” ― Ernest Hemingway
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ― Neil Gaiman
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London
“Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.” ― Meg Cabot
“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” ― Stephen King
“You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying in the road.” ― Richard Price
“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” ― Stephen King
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” ― William Faulkner
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ― Pablo Picasso
“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” ― Ray Bradbury
“In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.” ― Stephen King
“When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.” ― Stephen King
“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.” ― Anne Lamott
“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?” ― George Orwell
“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”
(Casual Chance, 1964)” ― Colette