Any of you who are doing NaNoWriMo this year will have seen the Pep Talks. And as much as I appreciate them, there’s just not a lot there for those of us who write Inspirational Fiction…
Let’s face it, Inspirational Fiction authors rarely end up on the same level as J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Oh every once in a while we have one – Karen Kingsbury comes to mind but it’s much rarer for those of us who infuse our work with God’s Love than for those who write pure fiction.
So I figured we could use a little extra encouragement! And Jennifer Beckstrand has written a wonderful Pep Talk for us!
So here it is…
How to Get Through NANO by Jennifer Beckstrand
I love it when people ask for my advice, because 1) no one ever asks for my advice, and 2) it means they think I actually have something to say that’s worth hearing—either that or they are just humoring me to make me feel good about myself. This is why I love helping my kids with math. They think I’m smart by the time we’re finished.
My delightful online friend and faithful street team member Rachel Miller asked me to pen some advice for inspirational authors during NANO.
My first disclaimer is that I have never personally tried Nano. November tends to be one of the worst months in my life to try to write a book. January would be much better.
My second disclaimer is that I’m not an expert—like Stephen King who wrote a book about writing or J.K Rowling who wrote a book on a napkin—but I have completed 11 books, and I spend several hours a week pursuing a writing career. For what it’s worth, I am happy to pass on what I’ve learned.
First, some general pieces of advice to help make your writing better
- Read. Good writers are good readers. When I get in a rut with my word choices or characterizations, there is nothing like a good Orson Scott Card or Jane Austen to inspire me.
- Read about writing. Story by Robert McKee is one of my favorite books. Self-editing for Fiction Writers changed my life. There are dozens of blogs out there about everything from grammar usage to plot development. These can be extremely helpful.
- Get an education. Attend writer’s conferences and writing workshops. This is a great way to meet other writers and learn about the craft.
- Enter writing contests and/or get a critique partner. These can be scary because people actually read your stuff and give their opinions about your writing. It’s always a risk to put yourself out there. Unflattering comments about your writing can be painful, but they are also very helpful. How do you get better if nobody ever points out what you’re doing wrong?
Now on to Nano specific advice
- Most importantly, remember from the outset that YOU WILL ALWAYS BE ENOUGH. You don’t have to write one more word EVER. To God, you will always be enough, just the way you are. Sometimes the anxiety about plotlines or word choice or character development can overwhelm you. Take a deep breath and remember why you are writing a book. Did God call you to do it? Do you enjoy the satisfaction of sharing your talents? Do you love to write? Remember the why. It will help you conquer the how. But God will always love you. You don’t have to prove anything to Him. As long as you remember that, you’ll be okay.
- God loves you just the way you are, but I think one of the reasons He gives us His grace is because He wants us to stretch and grow. Jesus’s sacrifice was not only a gift He gave to us, but an investment He made in us. Use that enabling power of grace in every aspect of your life.
- If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Just like lifting weights makes us stronger, struggling to write thousands of words a day makes us better. We wouldn’t improve if it wasn’t hard. Nobody wants to stagnate. You have to push through the hard times. Write junk on the page if you must, but WRITE.
- Remember that writing is work. HARD WORK. I had hoped after I wrote my first book that writing would get easier, that I could sit down at the computer and jot off three thousand words in a matter of minutes. This is not the case.
- Writing isn’t like cleaning toilets. Cleaning toilets isn’t fun, but at least you know exactly what you have to do to get the job done. With writing, I might put in three hours and have a paragraph to show for it. That’s the nature of the creative process. Ideas don’t flow all the time or even most of the time.
- So, even though it can be painful, it is important to sit in that chair and write, even if you can’t think of anything to write. Even if you know that most of what you write is going to get deleted. No writer has a book handed to her on a silver platter by the Muses or by God.
I don’t know about you but WOW! Just WOW! That was great! I know it gave me such a boost of confidence. THANK YOU Jennifer! You are such an encouragement to me!
For more information about Jennifer and her writing, You can click the links below.