Writing Ain’t Easy–A top ten list of how to do it anyway
It’s been 18 months since I decided to get serious about writing Christian fiction. I wish I’d started blogging about the experience back then. Recently, I’ve had several people ask for information about writing, entering contests and such. I think I can sum the whole time into a few simple thoughts and go from there. I’m not sure exactly where this little experiment is going to lead, but you’re welcome to come along for the ride!
1. I had to write to learn how to write. One thing that held me back was insecurity. I just knew that every word would be terrible. And honestly? It was. Worse than terrible. But that’s okay. You can’t learn from perfection. So grab a pencil and paper or sit down at your computer and type out a story until you can type no more.
2. Realize that people who compliment you are wrong. I had several friends (sorry, guys. Still love you!!!)–make that SEVERAL friends who read my stories and said they were fantastic. They weren’t. But with editing, they could be. That’s the magic trick. Everything anyone writes as a first draft is bad. Then they revise, improve, and revise again until it’s polished.
3. Find a group of people who will give you honest feedback. For me, that was writing forums. I belong to three, two that I use actively, Legendfire and Scribophile. I’ve had several huge doses of humble pie from both sites. But I’ve learned a lot, too.
4. Critique other writers. It’s so much easier to find mistakes in the work of others. Critiquing is pretty scary at first. But after several weeks of doing it, I was able to see some of those mistakes in my own writing and fix them.
5. Understand that you’re never going to be perfect. So stay humble. Accepting criticism of your work is sometimes really difficult. It’s your baby and someone is going on and on about how ugly it is. It may just be their opinion, but something must have triggered their response. Listen to those people. Examine your work against their rubric. Sometimes they’re completely off base, but sometimes they are right.
6. Expect to give up some things. For me, it’s sleep. When I’m on a roll with a story, I might stay up until 2 a.m. three or four nights in a row. Writing takes commitment, just like reading your Bible or exercising. Choose a specific time and stick to it, even if that means you choose writing over your favorite TV show.
7. Expect to completely scrap everything you put in a first draft. I don’t know how many times I’ve went back over a piece and skipped over something I’d written in a first draft because I liked it so much, only to discover that everyone else who read the story thought it was terrible. To me, a first draft is your brainstorm. You sift through it to find the real story and then revise from there.
8. Make friends with other writers. It really helps to know people who are suffering through the same things as I am. I have a few friends who’ve recently been through the process of self publishing, and they’d be more than willing to help me if I choose to go that route. Plus, they really understand when I get down about a story and always offer great suggestions to turn it around.
9. Expect to spend a little money. Anything worth doing has some kind of cost. You shouldn’t just go throw your money out to some rookie editor, but you might consider joining a professional organization or entering contests. I paid $65 for a year of membership in the American Christian Fiction Writers organization and they offer free classes, critique groups, contests, and awesome connections. I’m hoping to go to their conference sometime in the near future and meet some of these people in person.
10. Pray about it. Some might say this should be at the top of the list instead of the bottom, but I’m one of those people who buy into the idea of God helping those who help themselves. Pray daily, yes, but if you don’t work hard at it, He isn’t going to magically transform your manuscript into something publish-worthy.
So, it might be six months before I post again. Or tomorrow. Either way, stay tuned for another look inside the Mind of Mynk. Have a blessed day!