Counterintuitive Writing Tips That Will Help You Actually Finish That Book, a guest post by Stephan Lee
For my entire adult life, I’ve been telling people that I’ve been working on novels. But that’s only been true for the last four-ish years. All through my twenties, I wasted an absurd amount of time not just hating myself for not writing, but also for not being the kind of person capable of starting and finishing a book. No matter how much self-flagellating I did or how many writing tips from famous authors I read, I couldn’t see myself ever having the discipline or courage to start and finish a whole book.
What changed wasn’t some dramatic aha! moment, although it did happen suddenly. I finished a draft of the adult book that I spent years telling people I was working on (it ended up being 777 pages!), and I shelved that for a bit while I wrote what became my YA debut novel K-POP CONFIDENTIAL in three months. I followed that up quickly with the sequel, K-POP REVOLUTION (out April 5!), and I’m off to the races re-writing that adult book (it shouldn’t be 777 pages) and drafting my first Middle Grade novel and two TV pilot scripts. I realized that all the amazing writing tips out there are only helpful to a point. What turned me into a writer who could actually finish projects and get them published had more to do with growing as a human being than literal writing advice. Here are my unconventional writing tips that will hopefully inspire you to become a working author as well!
Write When You’re Not Actually Writing
In the early stages of drafting a novel, the time you spend sitting at your computer is way overrated. Throughout the course of writing a book, you have to come up with an immense number of ideas, way more than will ever make it onto the page, so you need to become more than a little bit obsessed with the world you’re creating. Your characters need to take up miles and miles of real estate in your head.
That’s why you need to get up out of your seat when the words aren’t coming right away — instead, focus on clearing a lot of space in your head for inspiration to come flooding in. I firmly believe that writing doesn’t have to look like literal writing. So much of writing is active, intentional daydreaming, and sitting staring at your cursor won’t help you do that. Playing dialogue in your head on your walk to the subway station? That’s writing. Dreaming up plot twists while you’re doing your skincare routine? That’s writing. Closely observing your date’s mannerisms across the table to give to one of your characters? That’s writing.
When I was writing K-POP CONFIDENTIAL and K-POP REVOLUTION, I was shocked at how much of my own day-to-day life — which looks nothing like the life of a K-pop trainee living in Korea — ended up inspiring the books. I just had to pay more attention.
Make any excuse to see the real world through the prism of the world you’re building. If you’re given a writing prompt at school, make it about your characters. If your kids beg you to tell them a story, put that scene you’ve been working out in your mind into words (adjusting it to make it child-safe, of course). Don’t passively read or watch anything — even if a book, article, or movie has nothing to do with the subject matter of your project, mine it for any inspiration it can give you.
A lot of this will feel like procrastination, but that’s okay! It’s active procrastination, and any author who’s actually finished and written a book, if they’re being honest, will tell you that it’s a huge part of their lives.
Throw A Little Money At Your Writers’ Block
Whether it’s five dollars or a hundred, budget some extra money every month for the express purpose of making writing easier or more fun. When I got severely stuck writing K-POP REVOLUTION, I bought myself a tricked-out keyboard that lit up and made a loud, satisfying clack every time I struck a key. It sounds silly, but getting to play with this shiny new toy was enough to get me up out of bed to write on days I might have otherwise put it off, at least until I got into the rhythm of the book.
Pour Yourself Into Your Day Job Or Other Responsibilities
One lesson I have to re-learn over and over again is that using up energy actually generates more energy. When I’m on deadline, I often, without even thinking about it, start thinking of my creativity as a scarce resource that I need to protect. My day job in marketing requires a lot of creative energy, coming up with several ideas every day for campaigns. I have to admit (and I hope my boss isn’t reading this!): I’ve held back in work brainstorms or put less than my full effort writing copy for my job out of this belief that I needed to save up my best ideas for my own books.
Time and time again, I’ve had to remind myself that creativity energy is not a limited resource. Phoning in your other responsibilities and disappointing people who are relying on you will actually sap you of confidence and energy when you sit down to write, so don’t be greedy with your brilliance — use your schoolwork or job as an exercise in building your creative muscles throughout the day!
Meet the author
Stephan Lee is a YA enthusiast, ardent K-pop fan, and journalist, currently working as Senior Editor at Bustle after a five-year stretch covering books and movies at Entertainment Weekly.
About K-Pop Revolution
She thought that debuting in a K-Pop band was the finish line, but it was only the beginning. Because now it’s not only Candace’s company judging her―it’s the entire world. How will she find the courage to stand by her beliefs, even when powerful forces are trying to shame and silence her…
In the sequel to K-Pop Confidential, Candace is a Rookie idol. Her life is suddenly filled with the fans, cameras, and glamor of stardom: She and her boyfriend, YoungBae, are a K-Pop power couple; she’s a walking icon at Brandt Foreign School; and her new girl group, known simply as THE GIRLS, is poised to break records across the industry. With her status as the industry’s K-Pop Warrior, she has all the clout at her disposal to make waves. Right?
Her label, S.A.Y., promises to help make the sweeping changes for the industry to become a more humane and compassionate place for artists. But what will happen when the road to a record-breaking debut isn’t as smooth as they’d planned? When a rival girl group emerges to steal the spotlight, carrying the message of change better than Candace ever could, she’ll have to decide what it’ll cost her and her bandmates to stand up for their beliefs. And as the world turns against her, with online bullies scrutinizing her every word, there’s only so much that one person can take.
From the top of the world to the brink of disaster, Candace is going to have to figure out why the world is out to get her. And she’s not going to be able to do it alone.
How far does one girl need to be pushed to start a K-Pop Revolution?
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 04/05/2022
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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