1/20/11

What 2¢ Will Buy You…

Used to, a piece of bubblegum but now, my writer advice.  (Okay if you really want to be technical, I’m giving you my two cents, figuratively.) I am a better writer today because of other writers’ generosity. I have foraged through blogs like my own and learned more about the publishing industry than any book could have taught me. (All for free I might add, minus my time.)  Maybe some new writer will cross my blog and learn a thing or two to help them along on their journey. 
So here’s my two cents:

Keep your writer brain in good shape.
Sometimes you’ll read “write every day.”  I don’t necessarily subscribe to that theory but I do believe you should always write.  (Yeah I know what you’re thinking, what’s the darn difference?) It’s like going to the gym, if you take a few days break your body appreciates it but you take a few weeks off, your muscles forget.  The same goes for your writer brain.  Work it too much and you burn out your creative juices, take too long of a break and your writer brain will start to get flabby. Doesn’t mean you have to write every day but write often.  You don’t have to write just on your novel either.  Write on your blog, edit your novel, make notes, outline, whatever just do it often.

Try it every which way.
(Remove mind from gutter and continue…)There is no one way to write, edit, critique, etc.  Everybody has their own style and what works for one may not work for another.   I encourage you to try a new method, at least once, even if you are sure you won’t like that style.  One of two things will happen; either you will love the new method or you will hate it so much you will really value your original process.  By all means if something works, stick with it and if it doesn’t…FIND A NEW WAY.   There are soooo many methods out there to explore, take the time to find yours.  Embrace change, it could be just what your writing needs.  (I did recently and it took my writing to a whole new level.) 

Critique partner(s) and Beta Readers are a must.
I am grateful to Diana Paz for reaching out to me and offering to read my work.  (It was crap.) But she helped me see past the crap and taught me how to turn it into something…less crap like.  It’s tough putting your heart and soul out on the butcher block but you WILL NOT refine your craft if you don’t get a third party PROFESSIONAL (meaning someone who knows the mechanics of writing, not just someone who likes to read.) opinion.  Every critique partner brings something different to the table, some are: grammar experts, plot hunters, voice refinement, etc.  The best critique is the one you walk away from, a better writer.   

Push through the pain.
This one is the toughest for me.  When the going gets tough, I do laundry.  Anne R. Alan, fellow writer, once wrote in comments of a blog, “Show me a writer with a clean house and I'll show you a case of writer's block.”  So true!  I always get a sudden case of writer’s block just as I hit that difficult scene.  You know the one, where you have NO idea what happens next.  I’m stunted for days, sometimes longer.  But now, I force myself to push through the pain.   Yes, the scene has a suckage level that will best the most expensive of vacuums but that’s ok, I can rewrite it later.  And you know what usually happens, I push through, get to the good stuff I want to write about and I’ll be struck with an idea on how to fix the suckage.   

Do your homework!
If you don’t listen to anything else I’ve said here today, head this advice.  There is NO excuse for not knowing the world of publishing.  Now I don’t have all the answers but I have found 99.9% of them through the internet…for free! There are lots of blogs out there from writers, agents, editors, so there is no excuse not to educate yourself.   When I hear agents/editors complaining reminding writers about the common sense don’ts of the publishing industry, (i.e.  Don’t send your query to someone who does NOT represent your genre: fantasy book sent to romance agent.) I won’t to thump the person in the noggin. Seriously folks, you’re giving the rest of us writers a bad name.  When I say research, I’m not talking about spending a weekend scouring the internet and viola! You’re an expert.  No, because I did that and all I came up with was those commercial websites promising to help get you published, blah, blah, blah.  Useless really.  It took months of research before I even stumbled across blogs and a few weeks after that to discover the quality blogs where I get the meat of my information.  Know your field inside and out.  Your agent will thank you.

Okay so maybe it was a little more than two cents but for you, it was free.  J What’s your advice? 

Recent Posts from other bloggers who inspired my post today:
In Game Shape from The Ink Slingers ( I LOVE this blog name.  I SOOOOO want to be an Ink Slinger with them.)
Pushing Through the Pain from The Ink Slingers (Still loving the name, it has a certain swagger to it, doesn’t it?)
Critique: pro and peer by Jennifer Hubbard  

8 comments :

  1. Great list! And thanks for mentioning the Ink Slingers on your blog! I'm glad you find out blog fun and helpful :)

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  2. I meant our* lol gotta love those typos

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  3. Great post! This is all wonderful advice. I feel like I'm doing pretty well with all of your points. The one thing I've been struggling with lately is pushing through the pain. You're spot on in that you just have to get through the difficult scene, even if it sucks, because you can always fix it later.

    Another piece of advice that I've heard again and again is to read your genre. If you write contemporary YA, read a ton of it. If you write fantasy, read that. You can learn so much about writing in your genre from the people who have successfully done it before you.

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  4. Awesome advice!! My only addition is to keep a notebook and pen with you at all times.

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  5. LOVE this post! Sometimes even when you know something it helps to hear it again!!!!!

    I love that when the going gets tough you do laundry!!! lol I'll do anything but laundry...hence my kids digging for underwear. It's a problem.

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  6. That was a well-balanced and comprehensive how-to post! Very well done with loads of excellent advice. Kudo's!! :)

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  7. Bethany - LOVE the title of your group blog, so fun. And yes, those pesky typos. I can't tell you how many times I have to double comment to correct myself. Happens to everyone.

    Ghenet - Thanks so much. Doesn't it feel good to read someone else's advice (esp. an agent or editor) and think "Check, CHeck, double check. I'm on the right path."

    Catherine - You are soooo right! I keep a spiral notebook in the car for just that. For some reason all my ideas come to me (fast and furious, I might add) when I am driving.

    Nicole - So true about hearing it again. It just helps reinforce it, you know. And with the laundry, don't think i'm scrounging around trying to piece together a load. I usually have sockless and underwearless children begging me to do it. So when I want to avoid a difficult writing scene, I attack the mountain.

    DL - THANKS! Hearing that makes me feel great. Writers always have tons of advice but I wanted to touch on the key points that refined my writing the most.

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  8. Awwww Dana, I'm so touched. You've helped me immensely. I can't thank you enough for all you do!!! In fact, I'm a chapter away from asking for your help again....

    GREAT post love!!

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