Did I just say novel? A book that I actually wrote? Why, yes! If you must know I finished the first draft of my Filipino inspired WIP back in December, 2018. But, you know, this is not the first book I’ve completed!
Today I’m writing about the mistakes I’ve made as a writer because I want this post to serve as a marker of how much I’ve changed and evolved as a writer. I hope that by acknowledging the mistakes I’ve made and sharing them might give others a chance to review their own work. My realizations cost me a ton of unfinished works, multiple sloppy drafts, and sleepless nights.
Now, while I might not be a published, I am still an author. And this is the year I want to accept that identity; I choose to be more open with my writing. Ever since I finished my WIP, I’ve wanted to share my writing journey with others. So will you join me on this roller coaster as we scream through rings of fire and mayhem?
A WESTERNIZED STORY
During my novice writer days I wasn’t aware about diversity in literature. A majority of the books I consumed were written by white authors starring white children who did incredible things. I didn’t doubt it then that my story had to follow a similar pattern.
As I got older I began to question the lack of my culture in my story.
Why was I not writing a story with a Filipino main character? Why was I hesitant to write characters of a darker skin tone? Why was I feeling weird writing about a culture which has homed me for so long?
Writing about my ethnicity was unfamiliar territory yet as I continued to write diverse characters I discovered more about my culture I had not known. I discovered stories that needed telling.
LACK OF AN OUTLINE
Probably one of my biggest mistakes. I knew nothing about first drafts or outlining or world-building! I understood writing to be perfect from the get-go. There was a time when I was writing my second book and it continued on and on with no end in sight. Without an outline I was unsure about how to end my story and I kept adding in unnecessary details. Without an outline, my story dragged. Now I find that I have to have an outline with just enough room for spontaneity.
INCONSISTENT WRITING SCHEDULE
The kind of writing schedule an author keeps differs; there is no one way to write a book. As for me, I find that writing everyday helps me stay in the atmosphere of my book. Although whenI do struggle or have busy days, I allow myself to take a step back. It’s not that I have to write 3000 words everyday, but writing even just 500 words is a win.
I had a problem with dramatizing everything A LOT. I thought that being a good author meant that my prose had to be the prettiest flower. Instead what I was actually doing was stealing the imagination away from my would be readers. While flowery prose can be good, it’s necessary to leave a little space for readers to visualize and interpret scenes on their own.
LACK OF RESEARCH
Any author knows that you write and write and write but without studying the field your writing is not going to improve. Just like any skill good writing comes from lots of studying and practice. This was something I neglected during my early years because of which I never really followed through on many of my initial novels. One of the misconceptions I had was that my first draft had to be perfect. I believe that my writing had to flow smoothly; I gave myself no room to make mistakes and to learn.
As a a writer it is very important to invest time in your research. You can begin by gathering advice on the technicalities of writing which is something you can do by reading other’s works in a critical manner. There are many resources regarding writing you can find online.