Hello, NaNoWriMo participants! Lauren Oliver here.
People often ask me for writing advice, and I say the same thing again and again: the only way to become a writer is to write. Everybody's process is different, of course, but for me there has been no sudden flash of inspiration, no stylistic leaps forward, no magical formula.
I have learned to write by practicing writing every day, just as I learned to cook by cooking (and blackening a lot of pans/setting off a lot of fire alarms in the process); I imagine that if I wanted to learn to play the piano, or tap-dance, I would have to practice those, too.
Equally important to the practice of writing is an ability to disable the voices that tell you that writing is impractical or too hard or somehow beyond your reach. It's as important to write quick drafts, bad drafts, and failed drafts as it is to write successful ones—I honestly believe you can learn as much (if not more) from these tougher novels. What you learn, partly, is that it's okay to just play, and let your imagination run wild, and take steps and missteps: what you learn is to write without fear.
And let's be honest—fear is what keeps most people from writing, even when they desperately desire to write.
So! Go forth and play this November. Have fun, and don't worry about what you're writing or whether it's good or even whether it makes sense.
After all, that's what editing is for.
Lauren Oliver is the author of Before I Fall and Delirium. She divides her time between Brooklyn and anywhere her friends will let her crash on their sofas. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, running, dancing, and yes, long walks on the beach (or, more practically, along New York City streets).