Friday, June 19, 2009

A Word In Season From Alice Hoffman

I was paging through the July issue of The Writer magazine last night. Alice Hoffman's interview caught my attention, and I'm glad it did. As I contemplate what to write for my third novel, several of her quotes stuck out and encouraged me. When asked, "What advice do you have for fledgling writers?", here's what she said:

My biggest piece of advice is to write, because I think sometimes people feel like they have to think up the story or they have to have something to say. I always feel like you might not know what you have to say in a piece of fiction until you start writing. It's really important to write your way into the story. It's good to know something of plot, structure and characters, but you find out what you really have to say by writing.

This can't be any more appropriate for where I am now in my writing. I always wish I was a plotter in times like these. I wish I could have a full outline and know where I'm going in a novel. But thus far, that doesn't seem to be my process. I have ideas, characters, etc. but putting them together and actually starting? I've actually started four or fives times now on this third book!

Here's another quote Alice shares that hits home for me. The interviewer asks her, "When you're writing a novel, what part is the hardest?"

The beginning is the hardest. Every time I start a novel, I think: "I don't know how to write a novel. I don't know how to make it come alive. I don't know how to tell a story. I don't know what I'm doing." I feel like it's a process of relearning every time.

Thank you, Alice, for sharing these words! Maybe the doubts are normal. Maybe it's okay to feel like I'm clueless and like I'm starting from ground zero every time. Maybe that's just the way all authors feel when starting a new project. Recognizing this might be exactly what I need to sit down and start typing Chapter One ... for the sixth time! :)


Sarah Oh Huishan said...

Hi...i love reading your twitter updates by the way...this blog entry you have here is great...i have doubts especially in the middle of a story...sometimes starting a story is not that difficult for me but it's when i write to the middle part then i'm lost. i'm self publishing to start off checking out response from the public on my writing abilities. it's great to see you having a publisher onto your novel and a winning one at that! thanks for being an inspiration.

Shauna said...

Wow, that's really good advice! I'm a beginning writer, a new writing student, and tinkering around with writing a first novel... Which, seems overwhelming when I sit down to write, even though I have the basic ideas of the story. So, I really appreciate this advice. Thanks for posting & good luck with your 3rd novel!!!

Koala Bear Writer said...

That is timely advice! All the books I've been reading lately, and all the success stories like yours that I've heard lately, make me want to get back at my own writing. But I keep hesitating, because I feel like I don't know what to write. I have some ideas, but I'm worried about whether they're "big enough" for a novel. So this really is great advice. :) Thanks for sharing it!