2019 Is Your Year

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Editing is the polishing before your book is published. It is at this point that you place your manuscript in the hands of your editor.

So, what are you looking to get for your dollars spent?

Well, it depends on how much you have done on your own prior to this point. Some writers will need proofreading for typos and grammar, others will want a more in-depth analysis of their story to make sure that it rings “true” with the time period in which it takes place. The editor will make sure that clothing, automobiles, literature, expressions of speech, political references, inventions, references to movies, and so on accurately reflect the calendar year (or decade) as precisely and truthfully as possible.

In one book, I researched “rabbit ears” for television reception. In another, the year of the first Cadillac Coupe de Ville was the issue, and so on.

Some editors will also see that your book is correctly formatted. Others will leave that entirely up to the publisher.

Each kind of editing has a fee attached to it. You can contract the editor to do as much—or as little—editing of your manuscript as you deem helpful.

It is at this point, while I am waiting to get my story back from the editor, that I spend time on my cover image and copy. I usually select three covers I like and then run a Facebook contest to chose the winner. This process stirs up some publicity about my upcoming book, which is a bonus.

At whatever point in the writing process you are now working— prewriting, drafting, revising, or editing—I encourage you to keep on keeping on. 

2019 will be your year, if you don’t let anything distract you and you keep moving ahead toward your goal.

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The First Stage of Writing: Prewriting

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So you are a new writer. You sit down at the computer, or you grab a yellow legal pad, and you freeze. “Just how does one get started?”

Well, it’s not as hard as you think. Remember your school days and what you did when given a writing assignment in English Composition class?

There were four basic stages to the writing process that you learned: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. (Nowadays, I think we could add publishing, but we will save that topic for another time).

Since prewriting is the “generating ideas” part of the writing process, it just well may be the most important. It is here that the writer determines the topic of the book, the message he/she wants to convey, the characters, the  point-of-view, and so on. 

If we polled authors, we might find that each uses different prewriting methods. They may use what proved to be comfortable in the past, try methods suggested by other authors, or come up with unique methods of their own.

Let’s look, briefly, at various methods and see what might be workable for you.

Prewriting Methods: The following are the methods I use. Remember, writers all work differently. I am simply sharing what works for me.

1-Brainstorming: This is the process of coming up with a list of as many ideas as possible without being worried about whether an idea is realistic or not.

After brainstorming, I go directly into the next pre-writing method. This could be hours—even days—later, however, since this is a long process.

2-Mind Maps: This method makes the most sense with the way my own brain works. It is also easy and visual. It also keeps me organized.

You may have learned this as “webbing” in school. It consists of drawing a circle in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. (This is where I write my character’s name, perhaps draw a stick figure, being sure to leave space inside the circle to add characteristics that are dominant). Then, I add lines to other, smaller circles around the main circle. Inside these go supporting characters, and so on. On the lines connecting them, I write the relationships of each one to the main character (hero). 

I actually start writing following mind mapping. However, I do want to share three other methods of prewriting which can be used separately, or in conjunction with each other.

3-Freewriting- This is when you write whatever comes into your mind for a specific amount of time. When using this method, you don’t concern yourself with punctuation, grammar, or even spelling. You just try to get down as many ideas as possible. Then, you choose one and get started writing. (You may need to repeat this process several times until you come up with a winner!)

4-Drawing/Doodling – Sometimes combining words and drawings can really open up lines of creative thought. (I’m no artist, so I often use stick figures with mind mapping).

5-Outlining – Some writers use traditional outlining to organize their ideas (I find this especially useful when planning my chapters). These writers start with their main ideas and list the supporting details underneath. The more detailed the outline, the easier it is when one begins to write.

My next blog post will be on drafting. Writing that rough draft can be just that—rough. The idea is to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible.

How Much Do Dreams Cost?

 

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I spent almost every day last week gathering information for my accountant. I needed receipts and various other kinds of documentation for both our personal tax returns and those for my business.

I DO keep receipts in separate folders. However, according to my accountant, those of us in the business of writing, need to keep a monthly ledger of expenses (publishing costs, marketing, office supplies, and so on) and deposits (sales would make up the bulk of this income).

This habit makes tax time so much easier than tackling it all at once—as I did.

It’s also much easier if you have a credit and/or debit card for personal  AND a completely different one for your business (which, thankfully, I did). We also need separate checking accounts.

Not only are these habits essential for taxes, they also are eye-opening when it comes to seeing in black and white—and maybe red—just how well our businesses performed over the past year.

Just as I claimed when I was a classroom teacher that  “no one goes into the educational profession to make money,” I have realized the same holds true for writing.

Teachers teach largely because of their love for children and writers write out of a passion for communicating the written word.

I have learned to embrace this truth so that I am not so discouraged when I look at the bottom line, realizing the hourly rate for which I have been willing to work in order to achieve my dream.

After all, one cannot put a price on dreams…

Ten Things To Know Before You Become A Writer

A new acquaintance of mine was intrigued by why I wouldn’t just lay back and enjoy my retirement. “Shouldn’t you be going on a cruise, taking in Broadway plays, or some such leisurely activities?” I must admit that sometimes, when I’m up early to write before anyone else in my house is awake, vacations or just hanging out with some of the Red Hat Ladies does sound like a good idea. But my characters depend on me to give them life and a purpose. So, I grab a second cup of coffee and get on with it. Her followup question, however, is the real reason for my post today. What she asked was this: “What do you have to know to be a writer?” Where do I begin? Figuring she was not so much interested in specifics as she is in just making conversation at a barbecue, this is how I answered:

  1. First of all, you need a desire to write—to tell a story that’s been on your heart and mind for way too long. You need an overwhelming desire to get it down on paper.
  2. You need the desire to communicate. It is more than just writing, per se. It is thinking about the reader. Needing to connect with him/her on some deeper level. It’s that emotional connection that we both crave.
  3. You need to be fairly good in your use of spelling and grammar. (I say “fairly” because of there are so many online helps, such as Spell Check, that make that part of writing easy).
  4. But even those online helps are no substitute for a thorough knowledge of sentence structure and a myriad of other writing skills that go along with that. However, writing skills can be learned. I’m learning every day.
  5. You must be a self-starter, disciplined and persevering. Someone who truly does believe that the only way out of the tangled writing jungle is through writing, writing, and more writing.
  6. When your story calls, you must answer. Whether it is 3 a.m. or midnight, when an idea surfaces, you need to be there to develop it 24/7. This may require you to function, occasionally, on a minimal amount of sleep.
  7. You need to be able to delay immediate gratification for months—even years, sometimes. Writing and publishing take a long, long time. It may take you so long to get that book to market and receive those cherished letters from excited readers that you’ve even forgotten the names of some of your characters!
  8. My back and shoulders are aching today, so I must also remind you that you must be able to sit for long periods of time in front of a computer. Get up every hour and move around for a few minutes to avoid the chiropractic office becoming your home away from home.
  9. This contradicts #6 (above) but you do need sleep. You need to be sharp when you write or you’ll make mistakes. These will eat up precious time in editing and rewriting.
  10. The biggest thing you need to be a writer, though, I saved for the end. You need to be CREATIVE. You can know how to write perfect sentences, free from spelling and grammatical errors, but if you lack creativity, your book won’t be a satisfying read for anyone.

I was going to continue by talking about characters, plot, and setting. However, as I looked into her glazed eyes I could see that I had lost her at about #2. Her sights were now set on the dessert table… Brenda

Similar, but Different

I recently shared with someone that I am a writer, but later I asked myself if I really understood the difference between being a writer and an author. I decided to find out.

I discovered that although the words might be used interchangeably, they really are different.

An author creates the idea or content of what is being written, whereas a writer uses someone else’s ideas.

But it’s not that simple because a writer can be an author if he/she is expressing his own thoughts or ideas.

And there’s more.

As pertaining to writing books, even if you develop the plot and write your own ideas, you will be known as the author only when it is published.

Even if you write A LOT, but never get anything published, you will be known as a writer—and there’s no shame in that. Lots of good work, great ideas, and a wealth of information/enjoyment comes from writers.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing skits for various groups, poems for friends’ birthdays, etc. That kind of writing is self-rewarding in that it doesn’t need to be submitted and I know it won’t be critiqued. I do it for pure enjoyment. I bet you do, too.

However, if you do have aspirations of being an author, follow these 2 steps:

  1. Write, using your own ideas.
  2. Publish your work.