You know what really annoys me? Like, to the point where I felt the need to write a blog post about it instead of just ranting inside my head? Because everyone knows that the rants you put on your blog are things that really get on your nerves.
So yeah, I get really annoyed by ‘software for writers’.
Now, I’ve got nothing against Scrivener or whatever. I can understand that if you’re the sort of person who writes in pieces, it’d make sense, because you could join scenes up as you wanted them to. If you’re a planner, it’d work. Etc, etc. But I’m the sort of person where the entire plan is inside my head, every little detail. I open a document, start typing, and stop when I reach the end of the story. I don’t jump around writing scenes unless it’s absolutely necessary.
I tried a trial version of Scrivener once, but I couldn’t get on with it.
I do, however, use Celtx for scripts. It saves me from having to format. Again, there are loads of features that I don’t understand the point of, but as scripts are conveniently broken down into scenes anyway, it was less obvious to me that I don’t write the way a lot of writers do. I’ll happily accept one of those internet blocker things, too, but unfortunately all the decent ones are for Macs, and I’m a PC person.
No, it’s the others that annoy me. Programs being advertised as the new software for writers, as the way to write a novel. Books claiming to take you through novel writing. Websites saying they’re the path to writing that novel because all you need is support.
I can’t say a word against writing communities. Protagonize was where I met a lot of my friends. But there are so many of them, because everybody wants to be a writer.
Everybody wants to write a novel, but not everyone’s got it in them to do so. These websites, these books, this software – it claims to make it easier to write, and maybe they give you some pointers.
But nobody can write that novel for you. Following a prescribed way of writing, planning the way one non-fiction writer told you to, introducing plot points as part of the story arc, and not letting it flow, not giving control to the characters (which can be risky, but can also have enormous benefits) … is that going to make it easier?
In the end, there’s one sure way of writing a novel. You sit your butt down in a chair and you write it. You don’t look for shortcuts. You don’t absorb the literature because you think if you know in your mind how to do it, the manuscript will cooperate.
And when you’ve been sitting in that chair long enough, you’ll have a novel. Perhaps it’ll even be vaguely decent. You’ve survived stage one. Next, you have to edit it. If you get past that and it’s genuinely better, you’ve passed stage two, and you’re a whole lot closer to making it.
Everybody has a book inside them, it’s said, but in most cases that’s where it should say.
I guess I just have an issue with being told how to do things. I don’t like books telling me to write in a way I just don’t write. If they say my way’s fine, I’ll be happy. I write how I write, and they won’t change that, those books that claim to know all about novel writing.
I have an issue being told things by people who don’t seem to be an expert. I don’t know how I measure ‘expert’. I am, after all, giving a form of writing advice in this post, and I wouldn’t say I’m an expert. But seeing authors who are setting up writers’ communities – when sponsoring an existing one would’ve been just as helpful – to teach people to do it their way, when they’ve self-published one book? I’m not saying that book is substandard because it’s self-pubbed. But one book. Maybe the next one will be completely different, both in style and in writing technique, and they’ll realise that their way doesn’t always work?
No one can teach you how to write. They can crit your sentence structure, point out errors, hound you about continuity and characters’ middle names (I’ve forgotten my MC’s middle name, and I never wrote it down, and now I want to use it…). But in the end there is one way of writing a novel:
Park your bum in a chair, open a document or a notebook, and start writing. And don’t give up until you’ve finished.