Friday, December 19, 2008

Guest post by Karen Harrington, author of Janeology

Today's guest blogger at Diary of an Eccentric is Karen Harrington, author of Janeology. I'm thrilled that Karen is here to talk about writing because I certainly need to do more of it! The notebooks with the beginnings of short stories and a novel currently is collecting dust, but you can bet I plan to change that in the new year!

How Not to Write a Novel

by Karen Harrington, novelist

1. Don't write down a goal--If you write down your goals, you run the risk of accomplishing them. By not writing down your goals or sketching an outline of your story, you ensure that your novel will not get written. You shouldn't write the goals of how many pages you'd like to write each month. If you do, you'll be tempted to stay up late the last five days of the month and play catch up until said pages are done. Better not to have a goal and keep from working harder under pressure.

2. Follow your inner critic--If you listen to your inner critic, you won't even pick up a pen. This is a good rule for the person who does not want to write a novel. Your critic will tell you that you have no ideas, that it will take too long, that it's too much work, that no one would want to read your story. This is the best way not to write a novel.

3. Read the odds of getting published--More than 275,000 books are published in the U.S. each year. Though that is a lot of books, there are three times as many writers vying for the attention of agents and publishers. There are six times as many people sending out query letters. There are ten times as many people who have good ideas. Why put yourself into this mix when so many others are competing for a publishing contract? In author Rick Riordan's article "The Odds of Getting Published," he cites a recent publishing industry survey that indicates only three of every 10,000 manuscripts submitted are published. Only 1 out of 10 of those will actually make a profit.

4. Tell your sister--Much like your inner critic, people like your sister or your Uncle Fred will tell you how impossible it is for you to have a goal such as writing a novel. Keeping these people close to you will also ensure that your novel does not get written. In fact, whenever you meet a "Debbie Downer," attach yourself to this person like Velcro. This will also beat down any delusions you have about novel writing.

5. Don't have a notebook in your car--If you have a notebook in your car, you might be tempted to write down an exchange you just overheard in the coffee shop or between your colleagues. Also, you might be tempted to write a metaphor about trees in the park. These are the types of genuine observations a non-novelist cannot afford to write down.

6. Blog all day long--People who blog all day long are less likely to write a novel. They have expended all their writing energy on the short blog. Plus, they get the instant satisfaction of readership and their muse is thus satisfied. Career expert Penelope Trunk agrees. Read her post about "People who have a lot of ideas need a blog, not a book."

7. Don't have an "I'll show you" attitude--Successful novelists often have had someone in their life tell them they were not capable of building a Lincoln Log set, much less write 80,000 words. You should not have this attitude. In order to not write a novel, there should be no one in your past whom you'd really like to prove wrong.

8. Watch a lot of TV--Watching a lot of weekly shows keeps your attention focused on mindless characters no one will remember in five years. If you plant yourself in front of the tube each day, you will be successful in not writing a novel.

9. Do not exercise--If you feel drowsy and lethargic, you will not feel like writing and will be more content performing step 8 mentioned above.

10. Don't read--If you don't want to write a novel, the number one thing you should not do is read. Reading only inspires you to want to emulate the author and/or do a better job than she. Stay away from these books. They will only ignite your desire to write a novel.

Karen Harrington is the author of the psychological suspense debut, Janeology. Visit her website KarenHarringtonBooks to read an excerpt. Visit her daily blog, Scobberlotch, and leave a comment or say hello. And if you want to know how long it took her to beat the publishing odds, the answer is 15 years of writing and submitting novels and screenplays. She says it was all worth it (though the money she spent on postage over the years outweighed her publishing advance).


Thanks so much, Karen, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share some tips with me and other aspiring writers!


Anonymous said...

Great guest post - Karen is so funny.

Serena said...

Karen cracks me up "In fact, whenever you meet a "Debbie Downer," attach yourself to this person like Velcro"

I loved these and now I have some rules I need not follow. 2009 here I come.

Michele said...

This is a terrific guest post. I'm printing it out on the off chance I ever do get the "bug" to write. :)

Anonymous said...

Karen - hysterical. But soooooooo right on. Loved this post. Thanks for sharing this marvelous and talented wit with us, Anna.

Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Wonderful! I'm going, I'm going! I'm going right now to read her blog.

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

I love this list. Finding it was almost (but not quite) better than my first morning cup of coffee today.


Anonymous said...

I read another post ... by this author and that was good to :)

Anonymous said...

LOLOLOL! Karen, you totally rock!

Bookfool said...

I am loving these guest posts and will definitely have to seek out a copy of Janeology.

Marie Cloutier said...

Nice! Very funny and very true! :-)

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading every bit of this guest post. I'll have to read Karen's book. :)

Shana said...

Karen, this is great. I really enjoyed reading it.


Alyce said...

I loved this post!

Anna said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for the guest post. Karen is very entertaining, and I can't wait to read Janeology.

Karen Harrington said...

And I'd like to add my personal thanks to Anna for hosting me!

Merci Beaucoup

K. Harrington
author, Janeology