Friday, August 10, 2012

What I learned during my ten thousand hours of practice, Pt. 1

Malcolm Gladwell famously said that the key to success in any task is logging ten thousand hours of practice. His belief is that perseverance pays off, and I see the logic in that. It jives with the tongue-in-cheek answer to the NY tourist question, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" "Practice, practice, practice."

There's an acronym for this concept in the writing world: BIC, butt-in-chair. So as I began to write a novel, I knew I'd need to put in some serious time before I'd have a story worth reading.

I've learned much during these hours in the chair, and over the next few days, I'll share some of the insights I've gained.

As with any new project, I started with a baseline of ideas, assumptions, and skills.
What I thought when I started my novel:

1. I had a good idea for a setting and a problem.

2. I had a couple basic characters and spent a little time thinking about them.

3. That was enough to get me started; I’d work out the details as I went.

4. I wrote an idea for each scene on an index card and stuck them in sequence on a long roll of paper. All I had to do was take down a card, write that scene, and move on to the next.

5. Writing this novel would be like writing the short articles I’d written; it would just take me longer.

6. I’d start at the beginning of the story and write straight through until the ending.

7. I’d write a historical fantasy with multiple story lines and multiple protagonists converging into a climactic whole.

8. I enrolled in a novel-writing course when I started, so that would help me work through the bumps.

9. I knew how to write fiction because I liked to read fiction.

Tomorrow: What I realized once I got going.

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