December 1, 2017

Writing Wisdom Series Recap

Congratulations to all you amazing authors out there who completed the #nanowrimo challenge! If you didn't complete the challenge this year... Keep your chin (and word count) up!

Here's a recap of my Writing Wisdom Series... 


Once Halloween’s over, we start the fast track to Christmas, with stops—NaNoWriMo and American Thanksgiving—along the way. To mark the month many writers dedicate to completing the NaNoWriMo competition, I thought it fitting to feature some writing wisdom.

Writing tip #1: Use a style guide.

A style guide is a place to record details about your characters, stylistic choices, spelling conventions. I used style guides as an editing tool before I ever realized its potential application in the writing process. Using a style guide is an efficient and organized invention strategy. And it’s a convenient method to help prevent the inconsistencies—Mary’s eyes stay blue throughout the story, ‘e-mail’ and ‘email’ aren’t used in the same text—that drive a reader crazy.

Before you write your first draft, think about using a style guide. I know I will.


Writing tip #2: Block the critic.

Last week, I suggested using a style guide—an invention strategy. This week, I encourage you to block the critic (yourself) during drafting. I am guilty of editing and revising as I draft. Writing on a computer (with spell and grammar check) makes it easy to do so. Did you know that habit actually slows down, and stifles, the writing process? You invest precious time into sentences that may hit the chopping block later.

Recently, I wrote a short story using the writing process of invent, draft, and revise.

Gathering ample information—my story was historical fiction—before drafting allowed me to write without constant interruption. I know that a rough draft doesn’t have to be perfect, even factually correct. For this story, I highlighted sections I wanted to verify later—the date of such and such battle or when pockets were invented—without doing ad hoc research as I wrote. My story still required revision, but it’s easier to make changes than create.

As you draft, block the critic and just write.


Writing tip #3: Protect your writing time.

A book is written one word at a time. The other day, I found this awesome quote about books… oh here it is…

Isn’t that amazing? We select the 26 letters in our alphabet over and over to form words—with new words added to the dictionary every year—and the combination of those words become sentences that become paragraphs that become chapters that become a book.

But your book will never get written if you don’t actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and make it happen. So, protect your writing time and write your book.


Writing tip #4: Follow submission guidelines.

The end is near. The end of the month. The end of the year. It’s amazing how fast time flies. I started buying Christmas presents weeks ago. And now we’re a month away from Christmas Eve.

Four years ago, I received about the best Christmas present ever—a publishing offer. It marked the end to an intensive six months of manuscript submissions—researching publishers, writing query letters, receiving rejection notes—and marked the official beginning of my writing journey.

Writing a book is an accomplishment. Not everyone will write a book in their lifetime. We all have a story within us, but it takes a certain amount of drive and desire to capture it with the written word. Most authors write with the intention of publishing. There are options—self-publishing, indie publishers, the “Big Five” (Penguin Random House, HarperCollins—who owns romance heavy-hitter Harlequin® Books, Macmillian, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette)—in the wonderful world of publishing. For us newbies, who don’t want to self-publish, indie publishers offer the best opportunity.

       Research perspective publishers (i.e. don’t submit your adult romance novel to a children’s book publisher).

       Follow their submission guidelines (i.e. if they ask for a query letter and blurb, then don’t send them the first chapter).

       Don’t submit your manuscript to more than one publisher unless the publisher has indicated they accept simultaneous submissions.

Select the most appropriate publishers for your book. Take the time to personalize each submission request. Supply all the requested information (in the correct format). Put your best foot forward. Think of your book as a job and your submission as a job interview. And, keep in mind, the ability to follow simple instructions is a surprisingly effective way of getting a publisher’s attention.

“The waiting is the hardest part.”
- Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers


Writing tip #5: Just write. That's it.

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