In an effort not to be catty, this kitty is offering some tips for all the other writing cats currently scratching their claws on the writing post. Continue reading
I began writing my first novel 5 years ago. Boy, was I naive! Yet, looking back, those 5 years feel like both an eternity and a blink of an eye. Because I taught literary analysis and have a B.A. in Literature ( la-de-da ) I though I was ahead of the novel game, but all I had were book smarts not the experience with applying those authorial techniques.
Here’s the TOP 13 things I learned about writing during that time.
I paid—yes, paid—for critiques from industry professionals at writers conferences and also paid a professional writer for a manuscript critique/editorial report. Those critiques were worth every penny…er…dollar. Of course, there are lots of writers groups willing to do it for free. Just make sure those critiquing have cred, and by that I mean they have had a traditionally published novel or are in the industry ( agent, editor ). Suzy Sunshine’s gushing over your manuscript won’t be helpful in the long run.
Critiques, especially for the novice, are invaluable! However, you have to put on your big boy pants and be willing to take advice and learn from your mistakes. Easier said than done!
As a high school language arts teacher I’ve heard every excuse in the book—many times over. Much to my students’ chagrin, I tear apart…um, I mean kindly and logically explain how to overcome that excuse. ( Maybe this is why they don’t appreciate my wisdom until they’re in college. )
Warning: This blog may offend those writers thriving on excuses. I know, I know, many excuses are valid—death, dismemberment, disaster, disease, zombie apocalypse—however, most are just excuses.
Here’s the top excuses I hear from both writers and my students.
- Write every day.
- Fall in love with the process of writing, from the initial idea to the first draft through the 10th revision and editing stage.
- Devote X minutes a day to learning about the craft of writing. Take a creative writing class, join a writing group, read blogs.
- Devote X minutes a day to learning about the publishing industry.
- Banish fluff and vague words.
- Quit complaining about writer’s block.
- Learn to overcome your writer’s block. Read RX for Writer’s Block for ideas.
- Spend less time on Facebook and Twitter and more time on your manuscript.
- Organize your computer desktop, research notes, character charts etc. Read Idea Vault for ideas.
- Spend time observing the people, objects, and events around you. Read Authorveillance for ideas.
- Read other genres.
- Find a critique buddy, group and/or writing club.
- Worry less, write more.
- Save your manuscript in 3 places. For other words of wisdom read A Confucius Consultation.
- Devote less time to your favorite TV show and become more devoted to your manuscript.
- Build or revamp your platform.
- Start a blog. ( see #16 )
- Believe in yourself.
- Dream big.
- Never, never, NEVER give up.
MAY THE MUSE BE WITH YOU!!
- Waking up is fun. My mind is churning with words-words-words and plots-plots-plots.
- Coffee tastes good when I’m writing and even better when I’m editing.
- I’m never bored. There’s always a book to read and writing to be done.
- The internet is awesome. From finding the perfect mood music to taking a virtual tour to discovering a PDF file of a no-longer-in-existence text.
- My Smart Phone is a timesaver: I can surf the internet for research sites while standing in line at the grocery store.
- Facebook and Twitter make me laugh. Mostly.
- Straws. Yes, straws. When I’m writing I drink out of a straw. Less mishaps that way. I have reusable glass ones, so I even feel trendy while slurping.
- Microsoft Word. My college essays were written on a typewriter. I don’t know how writers managed to rewrite and edit back in the ‘old days.’
- My commute to work. It provides plenty of ( depending on traffic ) time to think, so when I arrive home I’m ready to hit the keyboard.
- Most of all, I’m thankful to have found an endeavor I’m passionate about .
What are YOU thankful for?
Related posts: Readin’ & Writin’
Many writers do a fair amount of research for their novels. Whether your genre is mystery, action-adventure, sci-fi, historical, urban fantasy, crime, or horror—writers are forever looking up facts to mix with the fiction.
Authors can spend at least a month researching a time period before beginning a new historical, and just as many weeks researching odd subject matter for other genres.
Lucky me, writing a million ( a small exaggeration ) college essays and a masters thesis taught me how to best catalogue and manage the plethora of research gathered along the way. I teach these same tips—learned the hard way—to my students.
Writers evolve. They learn the craft, make mistakes, correct their errors, develop their voice, and learn some more. The process takes time ( years ), requires lots and lots of writing and hours and hours of reading. But what they don’t tell you is that a writer actually morphs into the most frightening creatures each time they write a novel! That’s right! This change is far worse than the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation. Far far more terrifying.
Here, my writing friends, is the true terror of a writer’s transmutation.
While researching personality traits for a main character I came across several articles about the similarities between psychopaths and entrepreneurs. Frightening, yes? Until I realized ambitious, goal-driven (or more accurately, obsessive) writers tend to fit the psychopath/entrepreneur profile!
Writing a novel, finishing a novel, rewriting your novel, revising the novel again and again, querying that novel, bouncing back from rejection…these tasks require a certain single-minded determination. Although there are days we feel more like psychopaths than entrepreneurs it behooves us to recognize that particular personality traits often determine our failures and successes.
Below is a 100% unscientific test that may determine if you share the same personality traits as a psychopath or entrepreneur.
Once in a while, research done for my current work in progress inspires a blog topic. And whether you call it serendipity or synchronicity, often a few golden research nuggets found along the way prove to be quite inspirational!
Here’s a few Chinese proverbs —and a writer’s take on them—that might be worth taping to your computer.
I get asked this question ALL the time by coworkers, friends, and aspiring authors. Writing a novel is time-consuming. It takes a whole lot of perseverance and ambition and stamina and self-control.
Writers are a curious bunch. We tend to be a tad superstitious when it comes to writing. A writing routine, a preferred chair, a favorite mug or coffee shop: All these—so we convince ourselves—provide the creative sanctuary to imagine plot, character, and conflict. Here are a few other notable objects that might also come in handy.
Don’t ask where I found this ancient book! I can’t tell you ( the repercussions and all that ). But I will share the spells and incantations with you—hey, we writers need all the help we can get! And a little magic never hurt anyone either. In truth, any author or wanna-be struggling writer will tell you the act of creating is magic!
Writers spend more time with their manuscripts than their best friends. Or maybe it’s that your work in progress is ever so much more needier and demands hours and hours and hours and hours of attention.