Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Every Wednesday, the writers at YA Highway ask a reading or writing related question, aptly named Road Trip Wednesday.

In honor of November as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), today YA Highway asks:

What kind of writing coach do you need? When you have to coach friends, what kind of coach are you?

First of all, does it count for NaNoWriMo 2011 if I finish the third draft of the novel I wrote during last year's NaNoWriMo? I've had 'before Thanksgiving' as my goal for getting my WIP ready for beta readers since August. If I keep on schedule, I think I'll make it. That makes the idea of a writing coach a timely question for me.

Having other people read my work terrifies me. Ironic, isn't it? Having readers is the logical endgame of writing. I took the first step with my first critique group in August, and I'm glad to have a few partners ready to go for the full manuscript. I've discovered I need just the right blend of positive reinforcement and reality check. If I picked a celebrity coach, it would be Sharon Osbourne.

I try to use that same approach. In the early stages, I encourage my writing friends to keep plugging away. Even if you don't make that 1,000 words per day, at least write something every day. 100 words here and 100 words there eventually add up. When I'm critiquing, I try to use the same guidelines I made my students use when I was teaching: for every suggestion you give, be sure to find something you loved to even it out.

And in the interest of meeting those November goals, I'm going to keep this post short and sweet and get to it! I do want to mention that I'm thrilled with YA Highway's focus on contemporary YA in November. I have been looking for some powerful, character-driven contemporary YA for my to-be-read list, and I'm excited for a month full of new suggestions. The last amazing contemporary I read was Kristin Harmel's After, about 16 year old Lacey's life after the death of her father.

Until next time...

Music for today: Driven by Their Beating Hearts by A Silent Film


  1. I don't know if this is an official response, but heck yeah--if you can finish your WIP 3rd draft before Thanksgiving, do it during NaNoWriMo. You'll be happy (and full of Thanksgiving) to have that shiny, updated draft in your hand come Turkey Day.

  2. Personally, yes, I like the negative critiques to be tempered with positive critiques. But I don't want this just for the sake of my ego. This is me being completely practical: I want to know what works, what things I'm doing well, so I can do more of those things. I don't want positive critiques just to balance out the negatives. If my cp really can't find anything good to say about my work, that to me is very telling and something I need to think long and hard about, because it means there's something seriously wrong with my novel.

  3. I enjoy breaking rules, so I say count it. Nano should be a tool to help modivate you, not something to stifle your creativity. If your goal is to finish your 3rd draft by Thanksgiving, then do whatever you need to to meet that goal. If signing up for nano is what you need to do. Go for it. Writing is FUN, so stop stressing and just enjoy yourself.

  4. Thanks for reading you guys!
    @Colin- You make a good point. I guess if a CP doesn't have anything good to say, I could take the George Costanza approach and rewrite with the opposite of my first impulses. ;)

  5. Oh this is good. I do agree with your coaching style. I wish you the best of luck finishing your third draft on time. I know as a person who has read part of your story I very much enjoyed it and look forward to reading more, should you need another volunteer.

  6. I really love that rule: "for every suggestion you give, be sure to find something you loved to even it out." It's really important to be balanced when you're giving feedback!

    And I don't think you're alone at being terrified of feedback. Once you send out your MS to be read, it turns from a lovely dream kept all to yourself into something that has to stand up to others' expectations. A harsh reality, that.

  7. Oooh - great choice on a model coach! I'd like her too!

    And yes - the endgame is to have people read, but I get nervous about people critiquing my work too.