The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

Goodbye, Hello

Well, look at that – I started blogging my NaNoWriMo process with the best of intentions, but got so caught up with the writing I sort of skipped the blogging part. Short recap – I kicked it’s ass and ended up with about 60k worth of decent work and a story worth reading. That book is being rewritten and restructured now, and I think it’s the one that will finally make its way into the world at large. After taking a few years to transition from technical writing and game design to fiction, it feels like everything’s clicking into place. Here’s to 2011 being my breakout year.

But before I let 2010 go into the history books, I wanted to share a few things I learned.

First, there is a right way to write, but no one can tell you what that way will be for YOU. By all means, read every book you can on the craft of writing, but don’t go looking for the Magic Formula. Use what works for you, discard what doesn’t, and don’t let anyone try and convince you they have the One True Way. You cannot duplicate what works for others, you can only adapt it to work for you.

Second, talking about your writing uses the same mental muscles as actual writing. Doing one will relieve you of your need to do the other, so choose where you want to put your efforts wisely.

Finally, you aren’t in this alone. Find a critique group you can trust and share your work with others. Even reading works in progress will improve your own writing by leaps and bounds. You may be good, but writing in the midst of other writers will make you even better.

That’s enough for 2010 – 2011 looks like it will be even better for me as a writer. I’ve really been digging into the concept of structure in fiction and how complex work can be broken down into manageable pieces. I’ve been a devoted pantser for all of my writing life, but just understanding the structure below the narrative has provided immense benefits for my writing. Not only do I write faster and more precisely now that I’m looking at the nuts and bolts of story structure, but I’ve been able to resurrect old ideas that I’d abandoned and make them work. If you’re a pantser, too, read a few books on story structure and see what it does for you.

And now it’s time for the ambitious part. In 2011, I plan selling/publishing my first novel, and getting at least three shorts in magazines of one sort or another. Along the way I’ll be posting regular progress reports and some bits and pieces of writing theory. If you’re kicking off your own writer’s journey, let me know, and we can congratulate, commiserate, and kick each other in the ass if we start to slack off.

2011 – it has to be better than 2010, right?

About Sam

I am the author of the popular Pitchfork County series of horror novels. I also write a newsletter with great reading suggestions and free fiction.