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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Secret to Writing a Nobel Prize Winning Novel: Make Mistakes

In 1956, The Paris Review interviewed Nobel Prize winner, William Faulkner. In this interview Faulkner stated that, "There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error."
   

     This statement resonates with me in more ways then one, but recently I have been reminded of this in my own writing. In an effort to hone my skills I have found myself looking to outside sources for advice, and have noticed a lot of information out there regarding how to write a book.
       Some experts say to plan out the story before you start. They tell you to map out your characters and write back stories for everyone.  In school they even tell you to make little Venn Diagrams and thought bubbles before you write. Plan, plan, plan, is the theme of most teachers of the written word. Personally I don't do this. I find this tedious and unnecessary in the beginning. I feel like it sucks the fun out of the writing process, and I write because it's fun not because I have to. I've told people before, I never do my writing in order so I wouldn't dream of listening to this particular advice either.
   If my writing is going to be truly inspired I don't have the patience for mechanical writing. I believe writing should happen organically, jumping right into the action and leaving nothing for chance. This helps me with the creative aspect. Sometimes it starts from a dream I had, or simply when in daily conversation. A little spark is all I need to get me going.
     When I allow myself to run with an idea, the characters seem to take on a mind of their own, and something amazing and unexpected happens each and every time. Now, I'm not saying that character and world building don't need to happen, they absolutely do. In fact, in order to fine tune the story, these things are a must, but when I am in the initial stages, I need to let it flow. I think anything forced, an agent or publisher will surely be able to see it a mile away, and won't touch it with a ten foot pole.
        Usually I wouldn't take advice from a man who didn't even graduate High School, but he was living proof that you don't need a fancy degree to your name or know some secret formula in order to become a Nobel Prize Winner. If I'm going to write an amazing book like Mr. Faulkner, I need to just start writing.  I can't sit here and plan every aspect of the story before I even get to the juicy stuff because in my humble opinion, that's not when the spectacular happens. I'm simply going to start making up some random thing and go with it. If it works out, great. If not, then I'll move on. I'm not going give up and say, "Well that didn't work". I'm going to keep making mistakes because that is the only way I will learn.