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While this video is based on helping people write a novel, or to at least be happier while trying, I have to confess that I did not feel happier after watching this. The overall tone did not make me want to run to my keyboard and start working on a new manuscript (forget that I’m already at it typing this post). On the contrary, I kind of got depressed. [MORE BELOW]

Michael Neff
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We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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How to write wondrous, award-winning novels... "or at least be happier whilst trying"... Quite a range there. So the end game might be therapy based? Happiness? And if you know little about novel writing, how does it logically follow you can set realistic goals for anything related to novel writing? Shouldn't something about the craft be squeezed in there?

For starters.

#3 : Be prepared to fail. 

I had to add, he's confusing agent rejection boilerplate with actual slight praise for his work. Did I hear that right?

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
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Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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I do think he confused boilerplate rejection with praise, but I don't blame him for including it in his speech. His title is also a bit misleading, yet I appreciate the sentiment. This lecture is less about how to write award-winning novels and more about how to motivate/encourage yourself to do it. This is very much the kind of Ted Talk I would have watched as a fledgling writer just starting out. To the speaker's credit, I think that was his target audience.

While the speaker does promote some pretty bad writing habits to form (such as over-editing on the first draft and sending in submission materials to agents before the manuscript is finished and edited), I think the lecture succeeds in what it's trying to do, which is encourage people on the fence about diving into novel writing.

Now, would I show a budding writer this video? I don't think I would. While I agree with most of what he says, the habits he talks about/doesn't refute rub me the wrong way. The last thing I would want to do to a new writer is suggest it's healthy to spend an entire week nailing down a first line on the first draft. It's bad practice.

Still, there's a lot of encouraging advice to gleam from this. New writers, take everything this guy says with a grain of salt, but listen to what he says about encouraging yourself and learning to roll with the punches. On those notes, he has it right.

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While this video is based on helping people write a novel, or to at least be happier while trying, I have to confess that I did not feel happier after watching this. The overall tone did not make me want to run to my keyboard and start working on a new manuscript (forget that I’m already at it typing this post). On the contrary, I kind of got depressed.

                #2-Set realistic goals. Yes, this is good advice in theory, but the way he puts it across makes me feel like all writing goals, no matter how small, are hard to reach. Not very encouraging if you’re new to the writing scene.

                #3-Be prepared to fail. I’ve heard this 1,000 times, but it’s an awful phrase no matter who is saying it. No offense to this speaker, but why can’t this instead be worded as, “Be prepared to create some new experiences even if they do not go in the direction you would like at first”? Sure, it’s a bit wordy, but this is much more encouraging to me than the alternative.

                #4-Be flexible with how you get there. I completely agree with this! But for some reason he didn’t expand on this nugget of information. I think, being flexible is key to any writer new or old.

All-in-all, if you’re truly just starting out as a writer then this speaker’s advice is helpful, but like JoeHallUk said, take it with a grain of salt.

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I think this is a good video for writers looking for a pep talk. As an author who recently started sending out queries and manuscripts, I enjoyed hearing about Nathan’s writing journey. I liked how Nathan defined failures as “setbacks in a longer journey.” That’s a nice way to think about it. Nathan offered additional inspired tips to deal with adversity. 

What Nathan didn’t do, in my opinion, was to provide a concrete guide for new writers.  There was no discussion about plot, structure, POV, etc. And his approach to drafts and writing goals felt overly broad.  

Bottom line, if you want specifics about novel writing, I’d take a pass. If you are looking for some encouragement, then, by all means, this video is worth a watch.

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On 1/23/2021 at 5:56 AM, JoeHallUk said:

This is very much the kind of Ted Talk I would have watched as a fledgling writer just starting out. To the speaker's credit, I think that was his target audience.

While the speaker does promote some pretty bad writing habits to form (such as over-editing on the first draft and sending in submission materials to agents before the manuscript is finished and edited), I think the lecture succeeds in what it's trying to do, which is encourage people on the fence about diving into novel writing.

Yes, Ted Talking, agreed, and there is encouraging pep for on-the-fencers, however, does the good outweigh the bad? If I were going to winnow out poor vids on novel writing, I would delete this one based on his terrible advice that will sink new novel writers, i.e., as you note above, sending in subs before ms is ready (not to mention barely noting the importance of embracing craft right from the start). Who wants an ms clunking along with editorial red flags in the first place?

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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19 hours ago, elisehartkipness said:

What Nathan didn’t do, in my opinion, was to provide a concrete guide for new writers.  There was no discussion about plot, structure, POV, etc. And his approach to drafts and writing goals felt overly broad.  

Bottom line, if you want specifics about novel writing, I’d take a pass. If you are looking for some encouragement, then, by all means, this video is worth a watch.

Good points, Elise, you've bifurcated this little lecture perfectly. Given my own background, the former fault is inexcusable and sends the message IMO that craft takes a backseat... 

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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21 hours ago, KaraBosshardt said:

                #2-Set realistic goals. Yes, this is good advice in theory, but the way he puts it across makes me feel like all writing goals, no matter how small, are hard to reach. Not very encouraging if you’re new to the writing scene.

                #3-Be prepared to fail. I’ve heard this 1,000 times, but it’s an awful phrase no matter who is saying it. No offense to this speaker, but why can’t this instead be worded as, “Be prepared to create some new experiences even if they do not go in the direction you would like at first”? Sure, it’s a bit wordy, but this is much more encouraging to me than the alternative.

                #4-Be flexible with how you get there. I completely agree with this! But for some reason he didn’t expand on this nugget of information. I think, being flexible is key to any writer new or old.

All-in-all, if you’re truly just starting out as a writer then this speaker’s advice is helpful, but like JoeHallUk said, take it with a grain of salt.

My beef with the platitudes is just that they're platitudes, thus generic and thus do very little to inform much less focus a new writer on a realistic approach. I have the same issues you do, and the totality of his little show also feels very facile to me, as if it's something he had to hurry and slap together for this event. 

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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