Monday, January 27, 2014

5 Things No Writer Can Avoid

#1. Jealousy

Admit it. We all look around and see the writers who make a living from writing, but we're here struggling to even be noticed. Some people have thousands of Twitter and Facebook followers...and some of us only have 100-200, if that. We see success and get jealous because obviously there's a secret we're missing.

In my experience, I've found that the best way to gain followers and get word out is to push, push, push. Make yourself seen. Send out press releases, make book trailers, ask people with lots of followers to make a quick shout out. Some people will, some people won't. Don't get angry if someone doesn't.

Just push forward.

#2. "I'm Nearly Finished" Anxiety

Let's say you've written three-quarters of a book. You're nearing the end and you're excited to finish. What happens? Most likely, you'll rush. You want to finish. You want to breathe. You know once those last words are typed, you can sit back and forget about the book for a while. The hard part will be over.

But you rush. I know I did. How could I tell? As I neared the end, I began feeling anxious. I told myself, "Come on, finish already." I didn't take as much time to develop those final scenes (I ended up scrapping them anyway, but still).

When you write that first draft, you're going to rush near the end. Maybe you type summaries of what would happen so you could just go back and expand later.

Personally, I wish I hadn't rushed at the end. I should have sat back, let it sit a day or two, and finished it later. It's hard to resist finishing when you're so close, but sometimes it might be the best option.

#3. The Impulse to Start Editing Immediately after Finishing a Draft

Whatever you do, DON'T edit right after you write the last word. Don't touch the book for 24 hours. After 24 hours is up, don't touch it for another week.


The story is fresh in your mind. You won't feel it, but after writing a book, your brain is like mud after a rainstorm. Everything is so jumbled up in your head that it all flows together.

You might think editing is the best choice because everything needs editing, but if you only listen to one thing I ever say, listen to this: DON'T EDIT RIGHT AFTER FINISHING. Wait anywhere from a week to a month or more.

Let the mud thicken, THEN start crafting. Your mind needs to rest, or else mistakes are going to slip right through the cracks.

#4. The Urge to Send a Draft to Readers after One Round of Editing

So you waited a few weeks, made your revisions, and now you want to send the story to beta readers. Once again, STOP. Back away from the manuscript. Wait. Once another week or two has gone by, go back to the story and edit it again.

Repeat this process at least twice. I didn't send my latest book to any beta readers until the fourth draft. This is because you want to make sure you're telling the right story. Trust me, THE STORY WILL CHANGE. My book started as one story and basically took a 180-turn by the time I reached the fourth draft.

In short: don't let people read your book until you've revised it a few times and are completely sure it is the story you want to tell.

#5. Shredding the Word Count

Editing should tighten the story. You want to say big things as quickly as possible. Stay creative, though. Don't simplify everything to the point where it's all a bunch of statements tied together. Keep the color, but don't use to much paint (the metaphors are pouring out today).

Basically, when we write we tend to subconsciously use redundancy. You might find the same statement made three different ways in one paragraph, but you didn't catch them when you wrote it. Cut the fluff, all the information that readers just don't need. This will naturally occur as you discover what your story is about.

Look what you can do with all that fluff
Take my novel, for example. The first draft of Embassy was 151,000 words. Seven drafts later, I literally cut it in half to 76,000 words. The story changed from the first draft, and though it's shorter, it's MUCH more powerful.

That's all I have for today, but keep checking back for more!

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