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nicolerye: A good day for writing (Good day for writing)
Thursday, August 1st, 2013 04:46 pm
I think every writer and everyone who wants to be a writer has, at some point, encountered this piece of writer's advice: "Write what you know." I also suspect this piece of advice is responsible for the High School AU (alternative universe) and, more recently, the Coffee Shop AU that are so prominent in fanfiction.

Don't get me wrong. "Write what you know" is not bad advice. The problem is that it was poorly written or misquoted or something and many people approach it from the wrong angle. People write about coffee shops and high schools because it's what they're familiar with. It's what they know. That's not a bad thing. When someone limits themselves because that's all they know, then there's a problem.

Honestly, this piece of advice is much better written as, "Know what you write." With this piece of advice, you can write whatever you want, as long as you do the research. If you don't do the research, your readers are going to notice and wonder how you managed to mess up something so simple. They will then inform you of your mistakes. Repeatedly. At least, the vocal ones will. The quiet ones will just stop reading. So if 50 Shades of Grey inspired you to write an erotic novel about Japanese Rope Bondage, you better make sure you know something about Japanese Rope Bondage.

Yes, research is a lot of work. But it can be a lot of fun, too, especially if you're researching something that interests you enough to write about. Heck, just researching can be inspiring to a writer and some writers find it necessary to set a time limit for how long they can spend researching in a day.

You're not expected to know everything, mostly because no one can know everything, but your readers do expect you to be knowledgeable about the subject you spent the time writing a book on. This is actually the logic behind the joke that if you want to murder someone and get away with it, ask a murder mystery author how they'd do it.

The point is, you can write about anything as long as you know what you're writing about. Learning never stops. And one of the best parts of being a writer? You've got the excuse to learn whatever you want because it's part of your job.
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nicolerye: stacked books (books)
Sunday, July 21st, 2013 11:08 pm
Because an author's blog should have more than book advertisements. :)

So you want to be a writer? Great! The first thing you need to know is that, while you're technically being paid to sit at home on your butt, there's a lot of work to do. For one, sitting on your butt all day's not that unique. People in cubicle farms do it all the time. The main difference is, as a writer, you are a) being paid to be creative on command b) at home, where there's tons of things to distract you for c) not a lot of money unless you're incredibly lucky and manage a bestseller right off the bat. There's also the fact, instead of your employer taking the taxes off your paycheck, you're now in charge of it. That alone is enough to send some people away screaming. Those stories you hear about authors in trouble with the IRS? Yeah, that would be why.

If you still want to join the ranks of this illustrious and often frustrating career, the first rule is that you've got to write. Quite a few of you are probably rolling your eyes right now and going, "Well, duh!" but you'd be surprised by the number of people out there who talk about writing The Great American Novel or just any novel at all and then never actually do anything but talk about it.

The second part of rule one is that you need to write all the time. Sure, it's fun to write when everything's right there at the tip of your fingers and flowing beautifully, but what about when it's not? Inspiration doesn't always strike, you know. And a lot of people stop writing when it's gone, saying, "I'll get back to it later." If you're a hobby writer, that's fine. You might even actually get back to it later and bang out one hell of a novel. But if you're supporting yourself with writing? Chances are you're on a deadline or at the very least need to get something out there so you can pay the bills next month. You can't just walk away from the story then. It's best to get in the habit of gritting your teeth and roughing through the lack of inspiration now instead of a future where it feels like everyone's breathing down your neck because you've missed a deadline and you don't know how you're going to put food on the table.

Then there's the other part of putting a story down and walking away from it; there's no guarantee you'll remember where you were going with it when you finally get back to it. Or that you'll still be interested in it when you get back to writing again. In the wonderful world of fanfiction*, where it's possible to write something and publish it all in the same day, there's this phenomenon known as Dead Fic (click that link at your own risk - TVTropes is one of the black holes of the internet). Basically, what happens is someone starts a story and everything's going good but then they hit a snag or lose inspiration and stop writing for just a little bit. Then for just a little while. They're certain they'll pick it up again, just you wait and see! And they never do. It's extremely rare for a dead fic to be revived. This happens with original fiction as well; it's just not as noticeable because the unfinished story likely hasn't been published in any form yet. Heck, just look at the number of people who regularly fail NaNoWriMo. Writing on demand with a deadline looming is hard.

But don't be discouraged. Getting into good habits now means you'll have it a lot easier than the people who wait to get them or think they're an inherent part of the job. And have fun! It's your story. If you don't write it, who will?

*As you might guess from that comment, I adore fanfiction and have actually written some. Go ahead and play in the sandbox. Just play nicely and don't expect me to read anything based on my original fiction.
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