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Friday, August 2, 2013

Pitfalls of Talking to Non-Writers about Writing

Well, I survived another round of NaNo, my second time doing Camp NaNo and fifth overall NaNo experience. Which means I have an awful lot of editing to do. Eventually one of those manuscripts will be ready for the big time. I hope.

During Camp NaNo month, I was discussing the MS I was working on with people who don't write and who aren't huge readers. When I mentioned doing NaNoWriMo, I found myself in the following conversation:

Them: I don't think NaNo is a good idea.
Me: Why not?
Them: Because it takes up all your time. And what happens when you run out of words? People will just use filler words to finish.
Me: It's a possibility, but the main point of NaNo is to get the rough draft down on paper. It works the best for people like me who need deadlines or they won't finish a draft. Novels aren't written in one draft.Yes, agents cringe when December hits because people will send out work fresh off the press, without editing it or going over it. But, there have been lots of good books to come from NaNo by writers who are serious and take the time after to get things right.
Them: And if everyone's doing it, they're going to run out of ideas. Then what are they going to do?
Me: o.O

So, this is when I realized talking about the writing process with people who don't write is much harder than I thought it would be. For most writers, ideas will come from nowhere and quite unexpectedly. Everyone has different ways of being inspired. I guarantee doing NaNo and other writing challenges are not going to exhaust all their ideas. Some writers will get stuck, but for many, it's temporary. Sooner or later, something will spark a thought that will lead to characters and a plot.

I decided to shift the conversation to what I thought would be less controversial topics. I may have been wrong.

Me: I'm thinking about rewriting TROUBLE IS MY FRIEND (currently a picture book) and making it a chapter book for slightly older kids.
Them: How are you going to do that? Won't older kids not like the idea of an imaginary friend?
Me: Well, I'm still toying around with the idea. I might make Trouble an actual character, still imaginary, but so he can be interacted with. Won't be for much older kids.
Them: Won't they get confused? Do you really want to promote blaming things kids do wrong on an imaginary friend? Right now I think it has a good message.
Me: Kids will blame imaginary friends anyway. Bug does it all the time.
Them: So why encourage it?
Me: Because it's a story that kids will want to read.
Them: But it won't have a moral. I like stories with morals and a lesson.

So, my friends, if my first 'Banned Book' is a picture book (or chapter book) about imaginary people/friends/things, you'll know why. You'll also understand why I don't discuss the writing process with non-writers, unless they're interested in becoming writers.

Until then, Happy Writing and Reading! I'll be over here in the corner, muttering to myself and possibly scribbling on the wall. Don't worry, I'll blame it all on Trouble.


  1. My kids blame stuff on anyone else they can think of, imaginary or not. Their favorite target is Notme. If I ever meet this Notme character, I'm gonna give him a very strongly-worded piece of my mind.

    In the meantime, I think it could work as a chapter book. Bubbles and Tadpole are reading chapter books and I think if it's done right, it could work. And I have no doubts that you could do it right. :D

    1. Yeah, Notme gets around a lot. I think he/she has visited our house a few times as well. ;-)

      Thanks, Kay. I'm figuring out the best approach to it now.