Writing Authentically by W.B. Abdullah

Ok, I’ll say it. National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) and I don’t get along so well. It’s a competition. It’s a power struggle. It’s another reminder that I haven’t arrived yet (to the popular novel completion crowd)….that maybe there is a time to just cut off research and just write. So here I am…facing another end of the month of November. WITHOUT. MY. NOVEL. And here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. When you cannot write, read. It will inform, enrich, and revitalize your writing. You will be inspired by those who have made it–inspired as to what to do and conversely, what not to do. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Reading is a part of writing.
  1. Research is important. It has its place. It also needs to stop…so you can actually write! Sometimes enough is enough, and instead of focusing on knowing…you must focus on being and doing…the practicum of it all. Life isn’t all theory, you know? It’s practicing what you’ve learned!
  1. Be you. Be authentically you. Even if you are writing a novel for someone younger than yourself (like a child or teenager), tap into what made you “you” at that age. What made you different from everyone else? What were your likes? dislikes? fears? dreams? favorites? Cheryl B. Klein’s The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016) has excellent free-write exercises and pointers for you to tap into your inner youthful carefree self.

And on that same note, there’s enough of everyone else in the world. But there is no exact you. There are enough cookie cutter stories out there–what sets you and your work apart from everyone else? What new flavor and spice can you bring to the table? There is a place for you at the table…if you can find your seat…quickly enough. Writing is like the old game of musical chairs whilst finding your niche. Honestly, readers want to see your blood, sweat and tears on the page, and how you got through it all. Write life’s true experience in your eyes and your shoes. Even the taboo, quirky and nitty-gritty. Be vulnerable, and then you will be writing authentically.

The most beautiful thing about reading a book is being able to find yourself…in someone else’s words and universe. Now write away so that I can find myself…and consequently be able to write! 🙂 Hurry! November is almost over! The dread of it all! But the good news is that inshAllah, you have many more months to look forward to :).

For more of W.B. Abdullah’s Nanowrimo woes, check out her blog here.

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