Monday, August 15, 2016

5 Tips for Writers (That are Hopefully not Entirely Cliche)

Now, I try not to post a lot about the actual writing process on here. It’ll probably bore most readers to tears, and it’s a bit like Toto drawing back the curtain – you find out that I’m really an old con artist from Kansas, and I write all my books by turning cranks and shouting into a microphone.

All right, maybe I took that simile a bit too far.

But I wanted to give a little nod, because I’ve been doing a lot more of my own writing lately (I’m sticking to my schedule, damn it.), which means a lot more editing. But I’m also part of a critique group, and I’ve been offering a helping hand to some other authors who are just getting into the game (And learning it’s heavily stacked in favor of the house, in some cases.). It means a lot of closely examining writing in various stages of publication and readiness and all that. Authors who have written and published books, but are just venturing into the M/M world. Authors who are working through their first book, still, but want someone to take a look at short stories. Authors who signed with a New York house or Amazon Publishing or who write for Chicken Soup and Woman’s World.

Now, I’m not Nora Roberts. I’m not Rhys Ford. I’m not any kind of household name, or a name shared between fans (At least I don’t think so. Maybe I am. A girl can dream.). But I have been at this whole thing for a while, and I want to share some insights I’ve got for the beginning author. They’re not in any order of importance. They’re all things to consider, and things that I think are often forgotten or underplayed in “How to Write” tips.

1. It’s your book. No one else can tell you what works in it, and that’s absolutely correct. It’s art. But make sure you consider what people say is a problem with it. Really think about it, because the hardest ones to change are going to be the ones where you know they’re right, but you maybe tried to fudge it past them because you didn’t want to do the work.

2. Finish your book. Don’t let anyone see it until it’s the best you can possibly make it. Your first draft is not the best it can be, in case that needed clarification. Don’t give a publisher anything you’re not 95% confident in (100% doesn’t really happen. Sorry.). Never never never. And don’t waste a beta reader’s time by leaving in things you know need fixing. They have to mark it, and often times, they’ll not be able to get into something else they may have found that could use some fixing.

3. Write. This isn’t something that’s forgotten, but I think it’s often skimmed over, because everyone knows it. But I’m going to lay this one out clearly for any authors wondering what they need to do, or what’s so hard, or why it’s not working. A lot of the time, it’s not fun. It’s not, like, scraping roadkill off the pavement (Which is a very important job. I’m not making light of it. But it’s not fun.), but writing is work. At least it is if you’re going to make any real headway. People who do this professionally aren’t writing when the muse speaks to them, or waiting for flashes of creativity. They are putting their asses down in a chair, putting their fingers on keys, and staring at that vile, nasty blank page while they write what they’re convinced is utter crap. And sometimes it is, but writers write anyway, because that’s what turns the lights on in the morning. All that ink money.

4. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission. Don’t wait until retirement. Don’t wait for anything, because if you’re capable of waiting, then you probably aren’t cut out for it. Sorry to say it, but that’s the truth. When you’ve been at it a while, yeah, you’re probably going to procrastinate (For instance, I apparently write blogs posts when I’m putting off working on my books.), but when it’s still exciting to you, you shouldn’t be able to stop. Otherwise, you don’t really have the momentum you’ll need to carry you forward through the slog. And that’s going to be the worst of it, when it comes around. Trust me.

5. Don’t listen to anyone else. That includes me, with everything I outlined. These are guidelines I’ve seen that work for most people, and prove true 93% of the time (That’s a bullshit statistic, but I’d imagine it’s somewhere around there.). Maybe when you retire, you’ll finally write a brilliant book and it will take off. Maybe you have a way to make a viable career out of writing every three weeks when the mood strikes you. Maybe I’m talking out my ass about everything. That actually sounds like the most likely option of them all.

I hope this helps, even if I did sort of negate it at the end. Take what speaks to you, honestly consider it all, and see if it helps you out.

It’s all right, I’ll talk about sex and books again next time around. But this was rattling in the old skull.

Raven