Bad Habits for a Novelist
by Vincent Mars
Novel-writing is a long and arduous process that requires as much discipline and focus as creativity. Poets can have as many bad habits as they like, for their lines are few and short, but us novelists need to keep our bad habits in check, for our lines are numerous. And to do that, we must first name them.
1. Reading before writing. The voice of the author whose book you’re reading influences you too much, especially when you’re inexperienced and your voice is not clear and confident.
2. Reading too much fiction while in the process of writing your novel. When your mind is focused on another story, accidents of creation stop occurring and you get fewer flashes of inspiration. Reading non-fiction has the opposite effect on me.
3. Believing that if the first draft is not perfect the story can never be great. First there’s the drawing, and then the painting. A first draft is a drawing, and it can only be colorless. The magic is in the colors, and these come with each new layer, with each new draft. The first draft needs a coherent plot. If it has that, it will do.
4. Doing too much research. Research is important, but the magic of stories lies not in repeating what others have already said. Research complements the story, and is something I try to do after I’ve written the story, to enhance.
5. Hoping that you can make money as a writer. While I hope my novel-writing will bring me immortality and posthumous satisfactions, I don’t expect it to bring me any money. Lack of money fosters creativity, and creates a vulnerability which makes you more sensible to the world around you.
6.Spending too much time blogging, thinking this helps your writing career. I might be narrow, but I don’t know a single famous novelist who uses WordPress for literary purposes. (Coco is a poet, therefore excluded.)
This arbitrary list is based on bad habits observed in my person. It’s not universal and it doesn’t attempt to teach anyone anything, its author being quite incapable of tying his own shoelaces.
PS: This post was written in great haste. Any grammatical errors shall be corrected at an unspecified date.
What other bad habits for a writer would you add to this list?