Good Writing versus Good Writer: Top Family Finance Posts #7

April 28, 2012
Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three years of blogging (most of it secretly as a political blogger) and there is no doubt that I’ve written a lot. I’ve published over 200 on Smart Family Finance alone. No doubt, I’ve written thousands of posts on my political blogs and a few hundred more on other online publications. Certainly all this writing has made me much better at writing.

At least, that’s my wife’s assessment. Sure she’s biased, but I also frequently make her edit my work when sending to bigger publications. Poor writing means more work for her.

Despite all the writing and improvement of my technical abilities, I’m not satisfied. I don’t just want to write or have better constructed sentences. I’ve always wanted to be a good writer and impact readers, not just throw words at them. That means something much more than writing. Sure, personal finance blogging adds to my abilities to be a good writer. However, I feel that if I’m going to tip my toe into deeper waters, I need a new project.

Erin Shanendoah is always talking about her fictional writing goals and she’s inspired me to dust off an old novel I started three years ago and see if I can get it completed and published. My goal is to invest four hours a week to the project without interruption to regularly scheduled blogging. I plan on giving regular updates with my weekly roundup so keep an eye out.

Where is My Novel Today?

I did say “dust of an old novel I started” and if you are looking for a translation, the best explanation is “it’s complicated.” Sheer lengthwise, aka word count and plot, the story was probably about 2/3 of the way to completion. However, the novel was light-years away from completion.

When I started, I only really had a grasp on my main character and idea for a plot. My thinking was, get what was on my mind on paper and sort everything out later. It led me to write a book that was 60,000 to 70,000 words long and all but my main character was lacking development. The worst part was that I found a flaw in my main character’s persona that didn’t click with theme/flow of the book. My writing was a little too focused on plot and didn’t realize the inconsistency until I’d started writing a section of the book that is a turning point for the character.

By all means, much of my material is still very useful, but the problem was paralyzing. I didn’t want to pour through large volumes of pages to make changes, yet I knew continuing forward would just mean even more changes later, so everything came to a halt. Blogging, with 500 to 750 word lengths were like a safe-haven. That’s where I’ve been ever since.

Why I’m already Excited/Discouraged

I’m a mix of emotions. The idea of reworking my old book is exciting and discouraging.

  • I have a fresh prospective and have an opportunity to improve plotlines and content
  • I’m a better writer and should be more capable of connecting with readers
  • I, personally, have much more life experience to pull inspiration from
  • I have my own children and that might, one day, enjoy my writing
  • There have been a lot of books to come out since I started, some of them close enough to my plot that I feel the need to distinguish the book more
  •  I have to rewrite a lot of my book

I don’t know how or even if my dreams of completing a book are possible, but at least for now, I’m excited to give it a try.

Top Family Finance Posts

  1. You are at the party, a glass of Zinfandel in hand and then the question comes. “Oh, you own a home? What kind?”  I’ve never known how to answer that question until Simple Finance explained the difference.
  2. Thanks to the birth of my latest tax deduction, I actually received a tax return this year (I usually try and slightly owe). While I try and figure out what to do with the money, I’m minding One Smart Dollar’s advice on what not to spend it on.
  3. Frugal Portland knows exactly when to know you are rich. I’ll know that I’m rich when I buy a smart phone and have no qualms with the data plan.
  4. As I’ve pointed out, sometimes the size of student loan debt requires you to seek alternative methods for paying back loans. My Money Counselor taking income based loan repayment.
  5. Food fraud is on the rise. I’ve been to more than a few street vendors who I think could qualify. Select street vendors and Spam.
  6. …And I thought I was the only one nerdy enough to write about financial lessons in classical literature. Maria talks about Dickens and how debtor’s prison has changed her outlook on debt.
  7. The Happy Homeowner has all the symptoms of a spending problem. You know you have a spending problem when you have a database to keep tabs on all your credit cards.
  8. True or False: banks earn more money from late payments on credits cards than bank fees. Answer: False. As I pointed out on iGrad, most non-interest bank revenue is from people who struggle with their check register. Finance Yoga has the tips you need to avoid bank fees.
  9. Formula of the week? Where else but Don’t Quit Your Day Job? Go read, then come back and tell me what type of Kelly you are.
  10. Sometimes what you want today is not what you want tomorrow. Overcoming financial obstacles is all about changing your perspective.
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13 Responses to Good Writing versus Good Writer: Top Family Finance Posts #7

  1. maria@moneyprinciple on April 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Shaun, good luck with the novel. You are right – there is a difference between decent writing and a writer (though these are also linked). Strangely enough, just this morning I was shouting at my family that I want to write novels. Why the shouting, you may ask? Because my excuse for not doing it is that there is no way to fit more in my life – between my job and side hustles, I hardly have time to sleep.

    Thank you for including me in your round up. But even more importantly, thank you for reminding me that I just have to do it, instead of finding excuses for not writing a novel.

    • Shaun on April 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Maria. I think we are in the same boat. I find it very hard to concentrate on personal finance writing and fiction writing at the same time. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do both, but I think whether succeed or not, the important thing is to try. While I may be able to work as quickly, a little bit every day is better than nothing. Besides, I have the rest of my life to finish my book.

  2. shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet on April 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Shaun and Maria- the important thing to do is set aside time specifically to work on your fiction. I should work on mine a lot more than I do, but when I’m home, there are just too many other things vying for my attention, including my blogs. However, my writing group meets every other Sunday, and I arrive a couple hours early each time. Those two hours are fully focused on fiction.
    On a good day, I can write 1000+ words in that time that I like. They will need editing (hence why I have a writing group), but simply getting the first draft down on paper is always the hardest for me.

  3. PK on April 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    There’s no shame in political writing – or writing for three years (haha). Make it happen!

    Thanks for the include!

  4. [...] Smart Family Finance Top Family Finance Posts #7 [...]

  5. The Happy Homeowner on April 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Best of luck to you!

    Thanks for including my post in this round-up :)

  6. Jai Catalano on April 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    You are so right. Your children will love that their father wrote. Bad, good or great. Don’t forget to dust off the book outside. Mites… no good.

  7. AverageJoe on May 1, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Wow! I feel your pain. My own book is through the first draft. Before I started blogging I was writing 2000 words per day. I promised myself I’d continue, but fell off the wagon immediately as the site began to grown and my “work load” increased. Every week I’ve said that I’m going to crank it up again, but I don’t.

    So I’m glad Erin is inspiration for you so you can be inspiration for me!

    Thanks for including my piece.

  8. Dr. Dean on May 3, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I find it difficult to focus on my different writing projects and move them forward. Erin is an inspiration for me also. You’ve given me new resolve: write more (like Maria-sleep when?).
    Thanks for including our post in the round up.

  9. John @ Married (with Debt) on May 3, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I’ve also got a novel(la) to dust off. I need about 15,000 more words but have run out of inspiration. My writing came from a dark place, a place where I am no longer living. I’m afraid I just don’t have the mindset to do it any more.

  10. Elizabeth @ Simple Finance on May 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Good for you! I started writing a book about two years ago, but haven’t even touched it in over a year and a half. I hope you’ll post frequently about the progress, even if it technically isn’t about PF, the information will be inspiring!

  11. [...] at Smart Family Finance writes about, of all things, [...]

  12. Jeremiah on June 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Good luck with the novel, I’ve always wanted to do that… maybe this Fall I can start again. Thanks for the mention!

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