How to read more, avoid rewriting your novel

I haven’t started rewriting the Ooning yet. Actually, that’s not true. I’ve done a good deal of work on it, but I’ve managed to avoid putting down any of the second draft by doing other things. I’m now happy with it from a plot perspective. I think. A friend recommended I read Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris. She’d heard it gave out good advice for struggling first-timers, and so it does. It’s short, but does an enlightening job of walking you through the most common traps associated with getting your book to completion. It affirmed I was right to rewrite from scratch. It wasn’t finished. It’s barely started, in fact.

The first draft is just that. It’ll probably have to be redone another two times. I’m fine with that now, and reworking the plot has come up with something infinitely more interesting that the version I have now. Roz’s book gives a few methods on studying structure (I won’t go into detail, as you really should buy it; the Kindle edition’s only a few quid) and moving blocks of narrative to create a book that won’t bore people to death. Probably worth knowing.
Reading Nail Your Novel was encouraging. I’d already arrived at a lot of its devices and systems through trial and error over the last 20 years. Roz is a bestselling author, so I’ll put this down to my dormant genius and leave it at that.
But. I still haven’t started writing the second draft. There’s a bit more work to do on the structure, I tell myself. I can’t start until I’m absolutely sure, I say. I know I’m deliberately pushing it back because I remember what it took to get through the first draft. That and “I’m busy”. Pathetic. And tired. Who isn’t? I’ll start very soon.
Positivity has emerged from my heel-dragging, however. I’m reading a lot more, more than I’ve done in years. A couple of things have driven this aside from work-avoidance, so I thought I’d share. Simply:
  • Get yourself a Goodreads account. I’ve mentioned this before, but it really is a great site. Everything about it encourages you to read. Reading’s good. Do this.
  • Buy a Kindle. Anecdotally I’m sure you’ve heard friends say they started reading more when they bought one. It’s true. I got one for Fiona a few Christmases ago, and she uses it a lot. I bought a Kindle Touch recently and I can’t put it down. Instant books and dictionary, an amazing screen, one-handed reading (handy for Fifty Shades of Grey) and never having to worry about carting heavy books around again make Kindle essential for any reader or writer. Why don’t you have one? I finished Matterhorn on it a few days ago (it’s a 600-page book with none of the annoyances of 600-page books) and now I’m reading a Palahniuk on paper. It’s a great novel, but going back to springy, shadowed, curvy pages feels odd. It’s digital for me.

If you write you should read a lot. If you’re not reading a lot, sort it out. It inspires you to write. It’s inspiring me to write. I will get Ooning draft two complete this year.

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