In my furious and endless desire to improve my writing, I keep on reading until I bumped into Mark Manson’s website. And one of the articles he talked about is how to improve his writing. He was advised by someone to read fiction.
I was so surprised. I once disregarded the idea of reading fiction books as it is a waste of time to peruse made-up stories. I’d better read real-life stories: that can genuinely give me pure lessons in life by reading non-fiction books.
But, here’s what’s intriguing me:
Mark Manson agreed to the premise. I considered him to be a god in writing as he is one of the best bloggers on earth. He’s a bestselling author and still humbles himself with what he accomplished. He obeyed the advice, and it had a ripple effect on me.
Then, I started reading fiction books in December 2019. To my surprise, I began loving it and can’t help to stop. In fact, I finished and licked every page of the Hunger Games Trilogy in three weeks.
Furthermore, I bought and read more numerous books on Amazon and in local bookstores.
What motivates me to write my own fiction book?
That’s a good question.
Instead of just reading fiction books, I realized I have more stories to tell to the world. The stories in my head keep haunting me since when I was a child. I thought these stories are mere stories; it should remain in my skull.
But, it feels like I’ll go crazy and somehow regret later if I don’t share them.
And my biggest problem:
I don’t know how to write fiction. Yes, I’ve written a book. But it’s non-fiction. Though it’s unpublished, at least I got this book completed.
Writing non-fiction wasn’t much of a struggle when it comes to outlining and pouring in my ideas on a blank page. It’s like filling water in a jug. Though I admit, I struggle with grammar and groping with the right words to say to make my book reader-friendly.
This pushes me to read books about grammar today; I feel like I’m a high school student again.
Now, writing a novel, it’s a different beast. I have to think about the plot, avoiding clichés, character development, worry about POV, among other things.
Without further ado, let me share with you what I’ve learned so far, penning over ten thousand words writing fiction.
1. It is very very difficult to write a novel
Yes, it’s incredibly difficult. Maybe because in the past, I consumed mostly non-fiction books.
I thought writing a non-fiction book was hard.
The truth is: writing fiction is ten times harder. A lot of things I couldn’t describe to the multitude of emotions, situations, and environmental immersion of my characters in the false world I created.
The world-building process was tricky too and draining and at the same time interesting.
I squeeze my brain very hard to take out the best juices; it occasionally freezes like a computer. And I can’t help to connect the daily events of my life to come up with unique ideas to my invented world.
With limited vocabulary, the more is it laborious to complete this big project.
2. It’s a bit easy to write a non-fiction book
Some may disagree on this one.
Because it depends on the type of non-fiction book you’re going to writing. I wrote a book based on my experience and the knowledge on the subject. I finished the first draft in three weeks, that contains over 65,000 words.
But writing fiction, I couldn’t replicate the same productivity. Maybe, the lack of knowledge and limited vocabulary are the main culprit.
Moreover, I choose a fantasy genre and the world I created makes it more challenging. I have to invent everything and use unique out-of-this-world names to make my story real and believable, and characters relatable.
It wasn’t an easy task. It’s a quite a helly process.
3. I learn to write better
I learn to write better as I often consult the dictionary, review grammar, and research a lot on Google.
It was a hundred times of Google research, vocabulary checks, word translation, geography research, and watch tens to hundreds of Youtube videos to sharpen my knowledge about writing fiction.
And yet, I’m still in chapter two of my story. After two weeks, I decided to redo the entire sections as I found my writing weak and the plot crazy.
So I write again and again and again till my fingers bleed. And the more I write, the better I become.
4. I am compelled to read more
As Stephen King says, “If you want to write a great novel, you have to write more and read more. There’s no shortcut.”
Reading more, you have to spend more time and money. My dilemma: my time is limited, and my money is scarce.
But, no excuses.
If I want to share my stories with the world desperate enough, there’s no other way.
I thought writing is all about writing. I was wrong. It has two sides of a coin: reading and writing.
It comes together. I have to swallow this fact. Hard.
If I aim to master writing, I must not only write–but also read. A lot
5. It humbles me how little my knowledge is about writing
The more I read, the more I write, the more it opened my eyes how little my knowledge is about writing.
The more I realized how bad and crappy I write. How disorganized my writing structure. How I screw up my grammar. Yeah, screw my grammar.
It humbles me.
I see my grammar crimes; I have broken a lot of grammar rules.
Yeah, my mistakes. It’s time to correct them and improve my craft.
6. Writing fiction takes time
As I mentioned, I wrote a non-fiction book in less than a month. The editing process took me three months. Still, unsatisfied with the outcome.
Today, I hid the book to a vault where no one can see it. I put it in the hibernation period. I’ll get back when it’s time to edit it again with fresh eyes. I am working full-time and take online classes on creative writing. My hands are full.
Based on what I read online, it will take six months to a year to finish the first draft in writing a great novel. How much more if it is your first time to write and have not mastered the English language yet. Especially it’s your native language, right?
And if you haven’t read a lot of fiction books yet, it will take years to finish a novel with quality writing and good story development. I fall to this category. Sad but true.
That’s why I committed myself to read at least fifty books this year.
For my novel, I aimed to finish the draft in a year or two. I aim to be a published author in five years. It’s a pretty long-term goal. It’s better this way than write a low-quality book.
My first goal is to studying my craft before going for the money.
We don’t know what’s going to happen; maybe I can publish my novel in less than two years. Who knows?
7. I learn to be more patient and wait for the right time
I repeat: writing a book takes time. A lot of time.
With all the money and time you need to spend, the most important thing you can develop inside is patience. I mean, more patience.
There’s nothing you can get writing a book especially fiction other than patience.
Which is to take things slow. Learn more. Read and write a lot. Observe other authors.
I must exercise more patience every day. To remind impatient self to wait for the right time. Success will take its course when the time has come.
I had to accept the painful process and sacrifice first.
I’m not saying you also write fiction books to get better at writing. It’s my choice so that I have a reason to write daily aside writing for my blog.
Writing for me is the most valuable asset online. If I master writing, I’ll never be working with someone else again. Either offline or online.
There’s a lot of ways to earn online as a writer. We can go on freelance writing. We can build a business blog, and the lifeblood of blogs is based on quality writing.
Or we can go on writing a book (fiction or non-fiction), sell it online and offline and earn passive income.
We can also get a writing job locally. Or conduct paid seminars once we’ve proven ourselves as a master writer.
It’s a long-term goal. That’s what I set for myself.
If you are planning to start a career online, the best advice: learn to be better at writing.
Everything online is about writing. Whether you pursue another career aside writing, you still need to write well so that you can sell your services better and get as many clients as you can.
Now, to write a fiction book to become a better writer is arbitrary. It’s a call. It’s a mission. It’s finding reasons.
And only you can discover it: within yourself.