I never forward chain emails. I've never republished a previously published article from another writer on this blog.
When 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by CJ Redwine popped up on one of the writers loops I subscribe to, I knew I needed to pass this advice on:
The following article appeared in the June 2010 issue of Love Notes,
official newsletter of the Music City Romance Writers. Permission granted to
reprint or forward with proper credit given to chapter
1. Finish a book.
Stop starting every shiny new idea and find the discipline to type one idea
all the way through to The End. It won't be perfect. It probably won't ever
be published. But what you'll learn about yourself and the process will be
invaluable and every subsequent lesson on craft will make a lot more sense.
2. Don't be so eager to share your work with others.
It's important to protect the creative process. Staying away from too much
outside input until you're sure of the story and the characters is a good
idea. Write until you're sure of the story and THEN invite critiques from
CPs. And if you're posting chapters of your work willy-nilly online, stop.
Editors are leery about selling a book when much of it has already been
offered for free.
3. Less talk, more typing.
There are many ways to network with other writers. I agree that can be an
important resource. However, many newer writers spend more time talking
about writing than actually writing. Write more. Talk about it less.
Reading within your genre gives you a firm grasp of the genre and what's
already been done. Reading outside your genre gives you inspiration for new
ideas you could bring to the table. Read.
Set the scene. Explore the emotions. Record the sensory detail. Don't be in
such a hurry to get from point A to point B that you neglect to deliver the
entire scope of the scene to your reader. If you don't know how to linger
without filling your pages with exposition-- fill your pages with exposition.
You can revise later.
6. Understand that writing is largely about revising.
Revising is often harder than writing the first draft. Your novel won't be
perfect the first time around. It doesn't matter. What you didn't learn
about craft by finishing your first draft, you'll learn by revising.
7. No book is ever perfect.
There's always something you can change. There are no perfect books, but
there are excellent books and the trick is knowing when you've hit that
level and can let it rest.
8. Some books won't ever be published but you should write them anyway.
I know you think the book you're writing NOW is the one. You may be right.
Then again, you may be wrong. It doesn't matter. What matters is pushing
yourself to write the very best book you can and then surprising yourself
with how much better you can make it through revising. No finished draft is
ever a wasted endeavor.
9. Self-doubt comes with the territory.
All of us share one thing in common--we worry that we won't measure up. We
worry that we will. We worry that no agent/editor/ reader will snatch up our
book and when they do, we worry they won't like it. When they do, we worry
our next one will bomb instead. You can't get rid of every shred of doubt
and you don't need to. The trick is to answer the doubt with action. Keep
your head down and write. Take praise and criticism with as much humility
and wisdom as you can and then write some more.
10. Interest and inspiration start books. Determination, perseverance, and
stubbornness finish them.
If you're waiting for your "Muse" to return before you discipline yourself
to write, you won't finish your book. If you want life to slow down, your
schedule to clear, or the people around you to suddenly come to their senses
and support your passion before you make the commitment to finish your book,
you won't finish. Finishing a book takes giving up sleep, turning down
invitations, and refusing to watch tv so you can write instead. Finishing a
book means writing a scene that refuses to go smoothly even though you'd
rather do just about anything else. If you want to turn your writing from
hobby to career, find the determination, perseverance and stubbornness to
finish a book.
About the Author:
C.J. Redwine is repped by Holly Root of Waxman Literary Agency and teaches
online writing workshops. For more info, go tohttp://queryworkshop.blogspot.com
Emily here again. All I can say after that is "Yea verily, amen!" #8 is particularly important, IMO. My sad little unpubbed first tries were my training-wheels novels. I was going to school on the writers craft with them. Even though only the dustbunnies under my bed have access to them now, I'm glad I wrote them.
Did any of CJ's advice ring true for you?
PS. I'm blogging on my evil twin's site today. Please join me at www.miamarlowe.blogspot.com. The topic is "In Praise of Honorable Men!"