The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within 3rd Edition
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- ISBN-10 : 1937746240
- ISBN-13 : 978-1937746247
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Paperback : 310 pages
- Publisher : Writers Tribe Books; 3rd edition (February 3, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #137,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I bought this book with some trepidation. All silly concerns - my friends would laugh at me (in fact, several who saw it on my desk rolled their eyes). It would be too "generic", eg it wouldn't address the problems I personally was having. It would scare me. It would be boring. On and on and on and on.
As every writer out there knows, writing is scary, and sitting down, putting pen to paper, is often the scariest part.
So let me say out loud that I love this book. No, it didn't teach me how to write. You can't teach that. And no, it didn't make it any less scary to start. The only way to get past that is to start.
But here's what it DID do. It focused me. Again, any writer seeing this knows how hard it is to stay focused. This book, chapter by chapter, focused me. It also gave me a rhythm - once I did what Watts suggested, setting up a firm schedule, sticking to it, everything else fell into place.
A couple of suggestions for other writers, after my own experience.
1. Like most other writers, I have a full time day job, running the business part of my own career. I'm self-employed, but that just means I need 4-6 hours every single day to answer email, make phone calls, strategize etc. The luxury of my life is that I could set aside mornings for writing. At 64, I don't have nearly the energy I used to have - writing at night is not a great option for me. I set aside 8 am to 12 noon, figuring if I got up at 6 am each day I could take care of the most urgent business and exercise before buckling down.
2. As the book insists, over and over again, I made the time sacrosanct. Most of us feel guilty when we do that, as though setting aside time for our own creative endeavors comes last in the long list of daily life - behind shopping for food, fixing meals, hassling with the landlord, making sure everyone's clothes are clean, etc etc. I looked in the mirror one day and said "You need to get selfish about your real work". It made a huge difference.
3. I went to a local market to write, instead of trying to do it at home. Again, this is something of a luxury, but I found that when I stayed home I got distracted by everything. The dog, the phone, the yard, the business papers. So I began my project somewhere else. It was a great decision, because it allowed me to "show up for work" every morning and concentrate.
3. I made it a rule not to bring my computer with me - I found that the first draft needed pen to paper, rather than a computer. It changed my thinking and my writing.
4. I made a special "bag" that held my draft, my notes, this book, my Kindle (with a copy of this book on it), a large yellow legal pad (for the draft), and various pens - mostly ballpoints, but I also found that a yellow high lighter was handy.
5. I did one chapter a day, and resisted the temptation to go further. In fact, sometimes I did half a chapter. That was fine.
6. When I got stuck, as happened several times, I went back a chapter or two and started over with them. That refocused me, and reminded me that I was on track. Two steps forward, one step back.
All in all, I found this book incredibly helpful. I didn't expect a miracle, or a study aid. I hoped it would help me sit butt in chair and write, which is exactly what it did!
It is true that the daily advice can seem a little repetitive at points, because, really, it is all simple stuff. That's the beauty of it. This book has been a boon for me as I've tried to get past my tendency to overcomplicate the writing process and to try to tackle everything at once, which has left me overwhelmed and writer's blocked in the past. The repetition of profound ideas about writing with one's subconscious and trusting process, about story as something embodied by the writer and as an attempt to resolve a dilemma that troubles writer as well as character, led me to renewed confidence in my ability to create. In other words, it made writing fun and doable for me. I was able to apply many of the ideas in Watt's book to short fiction as well.
Many reviewers who have rated this book negatively seem to expect an original manifesto on technique and style, or a collection of exercises designed to perfect the already-formed writer. That is not what this book is about. It is a method and a heuristic. It covers the fundamentals of novel-writing, and I think it illuminates a number of points that, although obvious to some very gifted writers, are things that many of us need to be taught.
Moreover, it doesn't seem true that Watt is trying to sell you his novel Diamond Dogs. He does reference it frequently to illustrate his points, but he also gives you the book's entire plot, point by point, in the appendix (which would completely undermine any scheme to sell the novel to readers). Nowhere does he instruct you to buy the book, or even suggest that your writing will be better if you do.
I would also note that I combined some of the techniques in Chris Baty's "No Plot? No Problem!" with the ones in Watt's book, and found the mix useful.
Top reviews from other countries
This book is not make you a great author in 90 days, however, if you follow scheduled writing routine, certainly the ability to write can improved.
Its definitely a must have book for anyone struggling on how they get their 'great novel' out on actual paper. I know I've been trying over a year to get my idea down into some sort of structure and its only now through using this book I actually know what my plot is, and can start to write with the knowledge I may actually finish.
Alan Watt also writes incredibly nice, always reassuring you throughout the process, giving you exercises, examples and basic plot structures to follow. Also the challenge itself of writing the whole first draft in 90 days really makes you want to keep writing.