The historical fiction I’m currently writing required extensive research on castles. And it struck me—somewhere between the first and second drafts—that the act of writing a novel shares many similarities with the parts of a castle.
The MOAT is a writer’s protection from outside forces like talkative significant others, crying children, and errands. The wider and deeper your mental and physical moat the more likely you’ll be able to carve out extended writing time.
Only lower the DRAWBRIDGE for allies, those with encouraging words who would never stab you in the back. Allow honest beta readers to cross as well.
Your CASTLE WALLS must be thick thick thick! Enough to withstand a siege of naysayers battering your dream with a canon of criticism and thick enough to withstand rejections and setbacks.
Make your writing location your own private SOLAR. Only allow a few entrance into your writing sanctuary. Station a guard at the door—even if it’s only a Do Not Disturb sign hanging from the back of your chair.
Go to the GARDEROBE often—the privy or bathroom. Excrete all those nasty adverbs, trite words, hackneyed expressions, banal characters, ho hum pacing, and insipid plots. Yuck! They stink up a manuscript!
Visit the WARDROBE frequently. Store ideas, research, and deleted word gems for future use.
The KITCHEN is good for burning first drafts, cooking up a query letter, or staring into the fire while contemplating the publishing world.
Don’t forget to stop by the BUTTERY for whatever is “ale-ing” you or the BOTTLERY for the celebratory Finished-Another-Chapter goblet of wine.
Keep your deepest, darkest fears in the DUNGEON. Chain them to the wall. Don’t let them see the light of day. Torturing yourself is pointless and a waste of precious writing time.
Your ARMORY is best stocked with knowledge about the weapons of plotting, a chain mail of literary craft, and sword-sharp syntax and grammar.
Use the CHAPEL to pray or beg the writing gods and muses for strength, endurance, and grace. Some gods require sacrifices—like reduced TV watching or Facebook time.
Make sure to say hello to all your friends, tweeps, and followers hanging out in the social media GREAT HALL.
Keep your KEEP—the highest and most secure place of a castle—strong. Keep the faith. Keep sending queries. Keep blogging. Keep editing. Keep learning. Keep writing.
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