Blood, Sweat & Fears with the Aunties of Agony
Tabatha Wood & J.A. Sullivan
Here at Kendall Reviews we know a lot of readers are also writers, so we thought it only fitting to provide a place for you to ask all your burning questions on the craft. The Aunties of Agony are here to deliver answers and guidance no matter where you are on your writing journey. Together let’s keep the scares on the page and quash the fears keeping you from gaining readers.
November is here, and for many writers that means National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short). If you’ve seen these hashtags popping up everywhere, but aren’t familiar with NaNo, here’s the low down.
Since 1999 writers in all genres have challenged themselves to write an entire first draft of a novel (at least 50,000 words) within the month of November. Sound crazy? Yes, it is! But it’s also a great opportunity to establish a writing routine and build a support network.
Even if you haven’t signed up for NaNoWriMo, your Aunties of Agony think the response to our initial letter will help get you through any first draft.
Dear Aunties of Agony,
I have an idea for a story, and I think it’s a good one. I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, but I’ve never written a book before. What will help me be successful?
Dear NaNo Newbie,
First off, congratulations on making a commitment to your story! Too many people express an interest in writing, but never start because they’re afraid. You don’t need permission from anyone to write, except from yourself.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to writing. If you want to get something out there, you need to find time to sit your ass down and do the work. All the very best writers, all the ones you love, are only so because they have put a lot of work in. You can learn the craft, but first you must put in the effort.
The best way to begin is by setting goals and sticking to them. Don’t wait for massive bursts of inspiration, just start. There will never be a “perfect” time to write. Show up, show up, show up. Eventually the muse will show up too. Some authors write daily for a set amount of time or for a set amount of words. Some write early the morning, while others scribble furiously at night. Try as many combinations as it takes to find which routine works best for you.
Now for the bad-ish news. The first draft is going to suck. Yes, really, really suck. In fact, it’s going to be the worst story you will ever write. But that’s perfectly normal! No one crafts a best seller in one shot. You’ve probably heard that writing is rewriting, and it’s absolutely true. Remember the first draft is simply you telling yourself the story. Once the bones are down you can work on rebuilding. It’s impossible to edit an empty page. Focus on getting the words down so you have something to work with later.
To help keep you going, you should also take a bit of time to build up a support network. Writing can be a very isolating craft, and it’s easy to let your self-doubts chew away at you when you’re alone. But help and support is all over the place if you know where to look. The NaNoWriMo website (https://www.nanowrimo.org/) has fantastic forums where you can reach out to other writers for help getting through the first draft, threads where you can vent all your writing frustrations, and many places across the globe have regions hosting in-person meet ups.
If you’re on Twitter and/or Instagram, start following hashtags like #nanowrimo, #writersofinstagram, #amwriting, #writerscommunity, #writingcommunity, #writingtips, #writerscorner and #writerslife. Even if you’re not comfortable asking questions, by following these hashtags you’ll realize you are not alone and get all the encouragement you need to push forward.
We wish you the very best of luck on your NaNoWriMo project. You’ve got this!
The Aunties of Agony
The Aunties of Agony are Tabatha Wood and J. A. Sullivan. Our monthly column is a place to ask questions and get advice on all things related to writing. If you need help, please leave your enquiry in the comment section, or ask us on twitter (@meringutang and @ScaryJASullivan), and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. If you’d like to remain anonymous, just let us know when you get in touch.
Together let’s keep the scares on the page and quash the fears that are keeping you from gaining readers.
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan
Tabatha Wood lives in Wellington, New Zealand. A former English teacher and school library manager, her first published books are non-fiction guides aimed at teachers and others who work in education. She now teaches from home, while writing in her spare time.
Born in Whitby, North Yorkshire, Tabatha has always had a passion for weaving strange, unusual, and often gothic tales, entwined with her deep love for the land and sea. She strongly encourages the use of writing and creativity for positive mental health, and runs a group which supports women who write for wellness. She also hosts writing workshops, often gets involved in cosplay charity events, and enjoys knitting and making jewellery.
Her short story collection, ‘Dark Winds Over Wellington: Chilling Tales of the Weird & the Strange’ was a passion project, and is the first time she has published her fiction.