Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Writers Society: CHEAT

Wow, guys, what a week this has been! Who knew airing my dirty laundry would garner such a wonderful response from so many writers? I've been busy reading all the wonderful comments, emails, and response posts, and Writers are the bestest people ever. Thank you all for making my week!

Now, since we've been serious for a couple days, it's time to lighten up the mood around here, don't you think? I have some advice:

Don't be afraid to cheat on your manuscripts.

I know, I sound evil. Writers are supposed to finish their WIPs before they start another one. That's responsible. It's the right thing to do. That's how you get books done and pretty and ready to show off.

But sometimes that's not

Especially for writers who do have agents or are under contract, it's so important to keep the fun alive! Give yourself a day to tinker with that shiny new idea. Let yourself play around in a new genre. Pound out a short story.

Let's face it, sometimes the writing we have to do gets boring. Or we get overwhelmed with it. Or we start to hate it and all its suckiness with a bitter passion. And then we want to not only delete it, but fry our hard drive so we'll never be tempted to open it ever again. You know, rational things like that.

When I get like that, I've found the quickest cure is to cheat. I have sekrit projects. I don't work on them all the time, just when I can't take one more second of editing or ohmygoshIwillscream.

The sekrit project? Oh, how I love the sekrit project. There's no pressure. No one looking over my shoulder saying "Is that really a book that fits in your 'brand'?" No, it's just me and the words, like it used to be when I was 13 and I'd hole up with the old Mac in the basement. I get to write for writing's sake. It's for me. It doesn't have to be perfect because no one will ever see it.

The best thing I did this year was finish a "sekrit project." It boosted my confidence, to actually finish a book and enjoy doing it. It sparked my imagination. It reminded me how much I do like writing. And most importantly, it has motivated me to get back to that book I need to edit. Because I feel like a good writer again, and that was worth the detour.


  1. I agree. :) I'm at my best as a writer and editor if I take time to be creative and produce words every day, even if they aren't for my current WIP. I found time to write a novella over the last few months of editing my novel, and now I'm going to use the novella as a test for the Kindle store.

    I also write scenes out of order. I think that keeps writing fun. If something comes to me that has nothing to do with where I am in my WIP, I just write it. :)

    Good post!


  2. I completely agree as well. I just finished with NaNo, and it was great to be so focused on a project, but now, I'm enjoying writing some flash fiction this week. You definitely need breaks for main projects. :) And, who doesn't enjoy a "sekrit project?" Shh! :D

  3. Yay! So the 27 partially done WIP on my laptop are a GOOD thing! Woo Hoo!



  4. i just finished nano and was just rolling up my sleeves to get stuck into the edit when i thought .. hmmmmm .. i wonder if i'm supposed to do something creative at the same time as rewriting .... (never done this before). I was pondering and wavering when a great idea for a story came to me, and today I wrote it. So yeah, what you say makes good sense to me!

  5. I agree! I also think this is a great way to develop a queue of strong ideas that can carry you through a career. :)

  6. I agree with Kristan. It's always nice to flip through a file of old projects to remind yourself where you've been—and sometimes the old projects still have new life in them!

  7. I was thinking about this exact topic this week. I worked on a shiny new idea for NaNo this year, and because I worked on it, I realized how badly I really do want to keep working on my current project.

  8. True! I've noticed several authors have produced really fantastic books that began as a tryst. Ally Condie was talking about this when she visited my writing class this week. Matched started out as the book she wasn't supposed to be writing. And it turned out awesome!

    Hmm, maybe it's time I have a one-night stand with that idea I've been dreaming about...

  9. This is so true! I was "supposed" to be working on something new for November, but instead, I went back to revise something old because I loved the characters so much.

    Maybe it'll never sell, but messing around with something I know how to finish makes me feel happier than freaking out over a half-baked wip.

  10. Funny that you would write this post, because your other posts this week inspired me to put away the mss I'm revising (for the nth time) and play with something new! Today, I went back to that revision, and it wasn't so bad. And I'm excited about the shiny new toy, too.

    Also, I was re-reading an old post from a favorite blog and had forgotten about this: Carrie Jones said (at the time at least) that she sets word counts for different projects in the same day. So she's always working on more than one thing. I think that would make me crazy, but Carrie (author of the soon-to-be-released ENTICE, part of the NEED series, and several other novels) is crazy-prolific (and super sweet, as well).

    I think it's so important to reconnect with the fun of writing! Congrats on finishing Sekrit Project!

  11. Love the idea of cheating! Especially if you give yourself a day to play around with a new idea or whatever, it seems like you wouldn't lose too much time while re-igniting your energy and passion. I'll have to consider this the next time I'm distracted with a shiny new tale.

  12. Not only are you a good writer, you're a good human being. Thanks for these posts! They really are a wake-up call. If you can be this brave and stalwart, then I will just have to buck up. :)

  13. You're soooo smart. You have to remember why writing calls to you...or else what's it all for?

  14. How ironic! I had been wanting to cheat tomorrow, but was feeling guilty for even considering it. The current wip is sucking the life out of me though. But if Natalie says it's ok to cheat...well, then. :)

  15. I recall hearing once that an artist I like (and a very successful one, at that), Robert Bateman, works on three or four paintings in a year, but he works on them concurrently, rather than sequentially. He'll work on one painting until he grows tired of it, or needs a change of pace, and then moves to another, and around, and back again. His paintings are huge, several feet across, and he paints realism, so each one takes about as many hours as a novel would to write. I always thought this seemed like a great idea to help keep each project fresh while you're working on it.

  16. While I'm mostly working on the one solo project, I recently wrote a passage that'll turn up eventually in a third book, so that rates as cheating....

  17. The biggest mistake I've made this year is not getting on with my shiny new idea.

    And now, I have a shinier, newer idea.

    It's like all the current talk about who will succeed dear old Queen Elizabeth when she pops her clogs.

    Should be Charles, but it might be William.