FIVE MISTAKES I MADE WHILE WRITING MY FIRST NOVEL

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?

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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.

EXCESSIVE DRAMA

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.

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What other behind the scenes writing tips would you like to read about next? What more would you like to know about my current novel?

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28 thoughts on “FIVE MISTAKES I MADE WHILE WRITING MY FIRST NOVEL

  1. thebookishskies says:

    Okay. Ouch. The first mistake you’ve mentioned hit very deep here.
    I’ve never really believed much in myself as a writer, but as a 2019 goal, I want to write more and believe more in my own writing. Therefore, since the year started, I’ve been working towards outlining and finally writing this story I have since forever. However, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it’s perfect.
    I know, no stories are perfect, especially first drafts, but I love this idea more than anything. I’ve been thinking about it since early 2016, and I have this irracional fear that if I don’t write it already, someone else will have this idea and then it will be gone.
    At the same time, though, it’s a very white-American story. And I’m neither.
    I also just finished reading The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo, which had a lot of Brazilian elements incorporated into the story. And that book showed me what I could actually write about. Even though I prefer writing in English no matter what, I could still write something closer to my reality.
    It’s quite a conflict, and I definitely understand where you’re coming from when you mentioned this as your first mistake. I really would appreciate some advice! Did you have another white-American story before you started the Filipino one? And if so, how did you let go from your feelings towards those stories?
    (Sorry for the long ass comment, btw!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

      Honestly, your story doesn’t have to be perfect from the get go. Whenever I lose hope in my writing I remind myself that someone out there is waiting for a story like this 🙂

      I would love to talk about this with you! I did have a lot of white-American stories before but I never finished them. I could never write them as I wanted to and so I started to lose interest. Back then I didn’t understand why I was losing faith in my work. When I began my current one, I realized that what I had been writing back then wasn’t for me. I wrote it because it’s what I taught people wanted to read. I don’t think I ever really let go of my feelings towards those stories. In fact, there’s one story right now that I’m going to fish up and rewrite with my own characters & culture. I think I just had to push them aside for a while.

      I really hope you take the chance and write more about your culture and people in your book! I found that when I did that I fell more in love with my home and I discovered more about it as well! You can start slow if you’d like. I find that including my cultural food in my writing to be quite fun! If you’d like to DM me on Twitter, we could talk more… ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebookishskies says:

        Thank you so much for the lovely reply!
        I think I already have some ideas on how I can start slow and add a few little elements from my own culture in my current WIP.
        I do want to try it out, as I don’t know if the reason why I’m struggling to fully connect with the story is because I still don’t believe enough in myself as a writer, or because I am not truly writing about something I feel deeply. I think it can actually be a mix of both!
        Once again, thank you for being so nice. I’d love to DM you on Twitter so we could talk more about this matter!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie says:

    This is such a good and interesting post! I really hope to finish the current draft of my WIP this year and I need to set myself a good schedule for it to work out someday haha 🙂 thank you for sharing this advice! 😀

    Like

  3. Mel says:

    I would LOVE to hear more about your novels! posts about people’s writing projects are so exciting and inspiring to read! I’d also love to read a post about your outlining process. I’m trying to get back into writing and think outlining would help but don’t know really where to start, so that would be really useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Miri ♪ Book Dragoness ♪ says:

    I feel exactly the same way you did about a Westernized story! I grew up so used to reading about white characters in a vaguely European fantasy world so that’s now my default when writing fantasy, even though I’m not white. And yes! I do feel nervous about writing my own cultures in, though I suppose it’d be good for me if I tried!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Camilla @ Reader in the Attic says:

    While things like writing schedule never was a issue with me, I really relate with other points. One was outline.
    Personally, I do not write down things that they’re going to say. While in my earliest draft of the current WIP, I just wrote, with time i started to write down what was going to happen. As asson as I restart writing, sure I’ll do that,

    And yes to research! The more my views on writing and the book world expanded, the more I realized I was lacking in certain things. And I don’t feel like writing without having done proper researchs. That’s why my writing is basically on hiatus until I’ve figured everything out.

    It was a really nice post 🙂 I hope in the future you will write more about such topics

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

      Yes, I don’t plan every minute detail like conversations but I do like having a general idea of the scene and atmosphere. Research is so much fun, isn’t it? Especially when I have to look up historical facts, there’s so much to learn!

      Thank you! I definitely plan on writing more for this series ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    The one about writing only about westerners really hits home for me. I may be white, but my culture sadly lacks from any translated or English books out there. My culture isn’t as different from the western one because I live in Europe, but as someone from a post Soviet country, it’s different enough. And yet, I’m only realizing this same thing now because I’m a book blogger and we talk about these things. If I were to write before I was a book blogger, I’m sure I would have also written about completely westernized characters.

    Like

  7. Fanna says:

    Thank you for writing this post! It subtly motivated me to get back to my WIP ❤ Yes, writing westernized stories is somehow the default idea, right? But I'm also glad I've finally understood the importance of culture and importance of diversity in the book publishing world. Having a schedule is something I want to try because that's where I lag, I guess. Again, loved your post 😀

    Like

  8. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Firstly, congrats on completing your draft! I think it’s brilliant that you decided to write about your culture 😀 I definitely find an outline helps so much (though I know some people disagree 😉 ) hehe I can relate to excessive drama as well 😉 I definitely think that’s a weakness I have too. And definitely agree with you about research! Awesome post 😀

    Like

  9. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    Thanks Cam for sharing your writing lessons with us. It is hard sometimes to understand that others outside of our culture would be interested! But I love reading about other lifestyles and how this influenced them. We have so much to learn from other cultures! ❤️❤️

    Like

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