Great advice for NaNo-ers from Tahereh Mafi, author of one of the most anticipated YA debuts of the year (and former commenter on this very blog!): “Don’t be afraid to write a bad book.”
take a risk. be open to writing a book that will undoubtedly embarrass you in a few years. go nuts with the adverbs and scatter plot holes everywhere and make your characters say things like i know we just met, but do you believe in destiny? and then he kissed my mouth and i breathed on his face and hugged him goodnight romantically. really. go ahead and fall in love with your hero for no reason except that he is the hero and, well, you made him, so there’s obviously no need to flesh out his character. dispense with the motivations and the proper pacing and give your protag a crazy name and a plethora of ridiculous backstories. have every near-catastrophic event solved by coincidence and magical powers that show up only when it’s most convenient, and then kill everyone off at the end because it’s the only way you know how to finish the book. write the story that’s really nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort at fictionalizing what otherwise would’ve been your autobiography.
but whatever you do, don’t be afraid.
Newly agented (but always fabulous) S.E. Sinkhorn gives writers permission to be proud of themselves:
There’s this weird pressure on writers (and other artists) where we’re not supposed to appreciate or take pride in our own work. Doing so makes us, like, JERKS or something. I feel like I’m constantly wavering between not quite believing that people think I’m actually publishable and reading my stuff from months past and going, “Woah, wait, *I* wrote that? But it’s good!”
And rounding out this list of fantastic advice and insight, the ever-amazing Natalie Whipple talks very honestly about how money can mess with art:
When I was a noob, I used to say all the time that I wouldn’t care about the money. That I’d be happy with anything as long as I got to share my work. It was…humbling to find myself a liar when things came down to it. I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching to understand my reactions and to discover how to change them.
The more I search, the more I learn that getting back to the basics always helps me. Writing what I love, regardless of market or money or genre. Improving what I write the best I can. Loving what I write and where I’m at. Treating it all like a journey with friends instead of a competition. Writing for the sake of writing. Sharing with joy instead of dread. All that good, pure stuff.
The money doesn’t have to mess with you. It might be hard to get past at first, but it’s possible and so much better when you do. Your work is valuable and worthwhile, no matter what the price tag ends up being.