I’m skipping the preamble today in an effort to keep it quick. Here are some tips that have helped me as a writer:
- I’ve said this before, but if you are in the querying phase, write something else. You have heard this before, and rolled your eyes. How can you focus on something else when any day now you will be getting the news any day now that you will be taken on by an agent who is going to magically change your life? The short answers:
- The querying process is long. Each agent can take up to three months to answer even just a query letter. Trust me, you’ll go nuts with the waiting if that’s all you’re focused on.
- Even if you are lucky enough to land an agent (I hope you are), your world is not going to automatically change. There is a long road between signing with an agent and actually landing a publisher, and then another long road once that happens.
- Agents are interested in representing authors, not just one book. They want to know you’re serious about a career in publishing, which means they’re going to want to see that you’re working on another project, and maybe even have a plan for your next few books.
- Don’t check your email or any social media until you’ve done your writing time for the day. If you get a rejection in your email, how good is your writing going to be that day? Unless you’re someone who is motivated rather than deflated by rejection, (which I’m not), I’m guessing probably not so great. If you go on Twitter – poof, you’ve just spent an hour reading about everyone else’s writing time.
- At any phase, don’t finish writing at the end of a chapter or section of a chapter. Always take that extra minute or two to write a few sentences into the next part. It makes starting up the next day SO much easier!
- Feeling stuck? DON’T go on Facebook or Twitter. I find it worth repeating that social media is like a black hole for inspiration. But DO try switching tacks. For me, every time I get stuck I take to pen and paper and just write notes until something usable comes out. I’m not sure why, but it’s easier for me to “sketch” out different ideas on paper than on the computer. Or even just walk away from the computer for a set time limit, like five minutes. Do a quick doodle. Put on your favorite song and dance. Do a cartwheel. Jiggle your brain a little, maybe something great will shake out.
- If you’re having a bad writing day, push through and do a little anyway. Even if you delete it all the next day, you’re keeping your writing muscle strong. Also, when I have a particularly bad writing day the next day is always AWESOME. So there’s something to look forward to.
- Don’t send out too many queries at one time. If you happen to get a helpful rejection (don’t hold your breath for that, but it happens more and more as you get closer to getting an agent), you may want to consider a major revision that will take some time, and you don’t want to have already burned through your top choice agent list and have no one left to turn to when the revision is complete.
- I can’t believe I’m admitting this on the interwebs, but when I’m feeling low and a little hopeless (happens to the best of us, people), I practice signing my name with little notes to my readers, like I’m at a book signing! It really lifts your spirits. And just in case that whole law of attraction thing is real, it shifts you back to attracting good things instead of bleak things, like dying a frustrated failure.
- When you’re done writing your book, do Ctrl + F for the word that and eliminate at least 75% of them. You can also do this for just and really. Also search for all the numbers (start with 0 and work your way up to 9) and make sure any number under 100 is spelled out. Please correct me if that rule is not correct. Also, go drink some champagne or something – you just wrote a book!
- Most people will tell you to join a critique group. I know I should do this, but I haven’t found the right fit for me yet and so have found crit partners on Twitter so far. I’m going to tell you join a book club. You already know you need to be reading A LOT (you know that, right?), so why not read with the pleasure of knowing you’ll get to discuss it at length with a small group of your choosing. You’ll learn what people like and don’t like about books (so, a critique group of someone else’s work), and you’ll probably end up reading something you wouldn’t otherwise have read, which just expands your toolbox.
Hope one of these was helpful to you!