A “Taxing” Time of Year

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It’s tax time.

The first 3 1/2 months of each year.

In January, I sulk and complain at the very thought of it.

In February, I prepare myself mentally.

In March, I gather receipts, statements, invoices… everything I need.

In early April, I get down to business.

The problem is, I always seem to be writing the last chapters of a book, editing, selecting a cover—in the very heart of Tax Season!!!

That makes it an overwhelming time of year for me—year after year!

It takes me roughly one year to write a book, from planning to printing and everything in between. So, February and March are always “crunch time.”

I’ve come to realize that the only way I can separate tax time and launch time is for me to alter my writing schedule.

So, this is the last year I will publish a book in the spring. 

From now on, I am going to work on some other writing projects for a couple of months and begin writing in earnest June 1. That way, I will change publication dates to the middle of the year.

I have a friend who has moved her writing space to the opposite end of the house to avoid family conflicts. Another friend, tired of computer problems, recently bought a new one. She’s busy loading a couple of new writing programs on it. I hope the changes they are making work for them.

Adjustments are a part of life.

The point is, we shouldn’t keep on living with the same circumstances that cause us angst. Only by changing something will we Improve our situation.

Don’t put it off. 

My father always said of change, “It will turn out great. You’ll wonder why you waited so long.”

So, if something is bugging you— keeping things from running smoothly—don’t procrastinate.

Make the necessary adjustments.

You, too, will say, “I wonder why I waited so long?”

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Looking Back and Going Forward

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Looking back over your last year of writing, have you made adjustments or have you kept doing whatever it was that you were doing on January 1?

My guess is you’ve made changes along the way, learned things, broke some bad habits, and put into practice new techniques.

You are looking at the craft of writing in a much different way than you did a year ago. 

The overall goal of writing is improvement. So is the goal of revising our manuscript once the draft is complete. 

I view revising as dissecting—just like we did in science class in high school.

It’s taking my story apart and looking at/improving each individual section, and then putting it all back together again.

It may have been impossible to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, but not so with your writing. It can be changed, reworked, rewritten, reordered until it looks much different than it did in draft form.

I begin by either selecting my known weaknesses to work on or, just what I deem important.  I go through the entire book (focusing on one at a time) looking for those things and “fixing” them. In my first book, for instance, I noticed that each chapter began with the main character’s name. So, I rewrote each beginning paragraph.

You’ll need to determine for yourself just what things are necessary. Here is the list of what I go through:

Repetitious words, past tense verbs, emotions, descriptions, flow.

I check each character’s description against my master list. If Sally has green eyes in chapter one, they’d better be the same color in chapter fourteen.

Quotation marks, italics, indentations, misspellings, etc.

Last lines of each scene (I make sure they entice the reader to keep turning the page).

Timeline/order (I once read a book where the girl’s cat died in chapter 14. Then, in chapter 15, the cat was very much alive and purring on her lap!) You don’t want huge mistakes like this to spoil your story.

Seasons/holidays (If these are mentioned in the book, they need to be in sequence) Ages (pay attention to age progression throughout).

As you can see, the list is long. I add to it for each new story, it seems.

No book will be perfect, but look especially for the mistakes you know that you tend to make over and over again. Keep polishing until your story gleams!

Next week, editing.