Monday, August 8, 2016

Book Notes: "2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love", by Rachel Aaron

"2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love", by Rachel Aaron, is a book I bought after I'd already devoured a good deal of the writing posts she has up for free on her blog (look to the sidebar to find her most popular posts).

And yes, even though I knew this book repeated a lot of the information she had up for free, I was still willing to pay for it. Why?

1) Because the stuff I'd read for free was just that good, and
2) If there was more she had to say on the subject, I knew I wanted to hear it, and,
3) I'm in favor of paying writers for their work. :)

The "writing faster" aspect of Rachel's work is probably what attracts most of her writer-readers, and it's good stuff, but my favorite part of this book came when she started talking about the "writing better" and the "writing more of what you love" parts of the process.

Here is a quotation that particularly resonated with me:
I’d spent so long blaming my bad writing days on my own imagined lack of discipline, I’d completely ignored the fact that maybe the reason I didn’t want to write was because I was writing something I didn’t like. Maybe the characters were off or the tension was lacking. Hell, maybe the scene was just boring, and instead of forcing myself to keep trudging through it, I should be ripping it out. 
Now, instead of treating bad writing days as random, unavoidable disasters to be weathered, like thunderstorms, I started treating them as red flags. 
I stopped roughing myself up and started asking Why? Why don’t you want to write? What’s wrong? And while the answers were never pleasant (because really, it’s no fun to realize you messed up and now you have to rewrite a scene, or a chapter, or half a book), they were progress, and they were necessary. 
So the next time you don’t want to write, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Instead, stop and ask yourself why. Why do you not want to do this fundamentally enjoyable thing? What’s really going on?
After giving that really stellar advice on diagnosing your own writing malaise, Rachel goes on to give excellent, practical advice on how to fix the problem.

I just can't say enough about how valuable it is to be given practical advice on how to fix the boring parts. Because the truth is, there shouldn't be any boring parts in a novel. The reader paid her money in order to be entertained. (Enlightened too, maybe, but the chance to enlighten can only be earned after you've proved that your story is interesting.) If she's bored, the reader has every right to put the book down.

And does Rachel's advice work? In my experience, yes. I was able to take her advice and fix some really sticky bits in my work-in-progress. Especially helpful was her observation that bad writing days aren't just something that happen to you, but instead they're likely signs that something about your story isn't working, and it's okay to stop and evaluate what it is, so that you can FIX it, and turn your work-in-progress back into that awesome, intense, thrilling read that it really, really wants to be. In other words: don't ignore that writerly instinct when it says, "I'm bored," or "I'm unhappy." Listen to it, and ask it, "Why? Why are you bored? What would make this exciting instead of boring?" And listen to the answer.

And then do allllllllllllllllllllllllllll of the work. Because it really is work. But at least you will be doing work that makes a book that you, the writer, actually like. (And if you actually like it, maybe the readers will like it, too.)

This is a cheap e-book, and a fast read, but very valuable nonetheless. It was the help I needed when I needed it, and I've found myself going back and rereading the potent bits of her advice more than once. Recommended.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

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