Monday, February 26, 2007

I have a very hard time writing sometimes. Not because I don’t enjoy it. I just get so caught up in editing myself that sometimes it takes me days to finish a scene. This can be very discouraging to someone with a weekly word count goal of five thousand.

I think I’ve finally managed to strike a proper balance between writing and self-editing, however. Now, instead of polishing a scene until it gleams, I do a quick run through. I check for spelling, punctuation, word repetition, and grammar. After that, I leave it alone until I’m completely finished with the chapter. Not until I have moved on to a new scene do I go back and re-edit a previous chapter.

This benefits in two ways.

1. The scene is fresh since I haven’t spent hours perusing the content until I can no longer see straight.

2. Editing before writing helps me get back into the rhythm of the story. It renews my momentum and helps me get in touch with my characters again.

What about you? How do you balance editing and writing? Is one more difficult than another?

How about some feedback! I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Many people are under the mistaken impression that only people with published books under their belt need worry about websites. I say mistaken, because I believe the benefits of a website are in the marketing of the author, not the books.

For example, put yourself in an editor’s shoes. Say you have two manuscripts on your desk, both equally interesting, both well written, with strong characters and believable plots. Both have been submitted by unpublished authors, but one of them has a long list of marketing possibilities, thanks to the work he or she did before they actually landed a contract. Not only do they have contacts and subscribers, they have already developed a devoted following.

Which one would you buy?

Of course, an editor is going to lean toward that author with a following. But how does one go about developing an audience, especially if they have nothing to sell? What kinds of things go on a website if one doesn’t have book covers to plaster over every page?

Think of your favorite author websites. How many of their pages actually have book covers on them? One or two? And yet the website itself consists of several pages. The rest of the site is probably devoted writer’s helps, guest interviews, links and related sites, or newsletters. All of these are things you can develop on your website long before you ever get published. Update your site frequently with industry related news or topics of interest, and before long, you will have developed a following.

The same is true of blogs. While there may not be as many options out there as to which blog host you use, most of them are free, and the possibilities for what you can put on your blog are endless. Visit other people’s blogs frequently. Jot down ideas of things that you like and dislike. That way, when you’re ready, you’ll not only be familiar with the process of publishing on the internet, you’ll be ready and raring to go!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Francine Rivers and hearing her speak at one of my writer’s conferences. She was warm and charming and had the sweetest disposition, exactly as I had imagined. Which is why I was so excited when I heard that her book, “The Last Sin-Eater” was being made into a movie.

I read this book after I met Ms. Rivers. Let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down. As I turned the last page, with tears rolling down my face, I breathed this silent prayer:

“Lord, I want to write like that.”

The story was raw. . .touching. I breathed in every word and lived every scene along with the main character, a young girl named Cadi. The movie was no less majestic.

I think all of us want to write something that will move people emotionally. Even more than that, I knew deep down that I wanted to write something that would move people spiritually. It’s not easy. Touching a person’s spirit requires honesty. If I’m not willing to bare my soul when I sit down at my computer, I can be assured I’m not going to write something that will leave the reader weeping and challenged.

So I put my trembling fingers on the keyboard and began to write. What flowed out of me was more exhausting, emotionally draining. . .more liberating than anything I’d ever written. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Francine Rivers. But hopefully, I can aspire to write in such a way that one day, someone will put down one of my books and say, “I want to write like that.”

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I celebrated my birthday this weekend. Don’t ask. I won’t tell you which. But at least for the last seven years of my life, I’ve devoted a lot of time to my writing. Here are a few things I would do again, if I had it all to do over.

Join a critique group. Struggling along on my own, trying to figure out why every publishing house I submitted to turned me down, didn’t get me very far. Not only was the journey lonely, it was frustrating. Good critique partners give you hard, honest feedback and help you sharpen your skills. Added to that, editing someone else’s work makes you a better editor of your own.

Enter contests. The benefits are twofold. I got great advice from judges who took time to be thorough and honest in their remarks. Plus, I got to see my entry scores inch up as my writing improved. It was a fantastic gauge of where I was in my writing journey.

Become an active member of a solid writer’s group. Networking is important, regardless of how well you write. Join a writer’s group and participate in the discussions. Not only will you learn the latest in industry news, you’ll get your name out there.

Attend writer’s conferences. The face-to-face time with editors and agents helps you establish your sincerity about making writing a career. It also builds confidence as you attend workshops geared toward helping you hone your craft. And let’s not forget the fellowship! Mingling with other writers provides the jumpstart we all need after struggling to cope with a rejection letter.

Start a website or blog. There’s some controversy over this. Do you really need to have a website even if your books aren’t published? I believe the answer is yes. Editors and agents want to know you’re serious about marketing your novel once it hits the shelves. Prove that you are by doing the legwork early, even if the only people to visit your web pages are family and friends.

And finally…write. How silly, you say? This should be obvious. Except that too many of us procrastinate when it comes to our writing. We allow everything and anything to take precedence over the time we devote to honing our skills. Let me tell you, the less time you spend learning to be a better writer, the longer it will take for you to get the longed for phone call. Don’t let a rejection letter stop you. If an editor turns you down, tell yourself it just means there is more for you to learn. Get busy. Get after it. Get published. If it’s what God has planned for you, then I know it will happen.

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