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  1. I remember being a novice. It was a while ago but I do remember and I was as green as they come but I’d like to think I wasn’t stupid. I follow a couple of forums where newbies post and I’m often taken aback by how stupid their questions are and all credit to the moderators who patiently dispense the same answers over and over again. The most stupid question I’ve seen recently was: What’s NaNoWriMo? Has Google stopped working in their part of the world or something? The bulk of the questions come under a single umbrella: Am I doing it right? I know we’re an insecure bunch but there comes a point in a writer’s life—and the sooner they reach that point the better—when they realise that there is no Tao of Writing and they have to find their own way. Their way may be writing a thousand words a day every day including holidays or it may not. Writing is not plumbing. It would be nice if it was. It would be easier and it would be as boring. Novels are called novels for a reason because every one starts anew: How am I going to do what literally millions of people have done before me and make it feel somehow new? Not by copying what’s been done before. Okay the odds are, since there have been so many books written, that you’ll end up unknowingly doing what a dozen or a thousand others have done before you but let’s not go there willingly, eh? I’m not saying there’s no technique to writing—you start off with a sentence that begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop—but it’s sometimes too easy to get overpowered by the method and forget why we’re there.

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