My earliest memory of writing I have is, I’m 7 years old lying in my bed (the top bunch) and writing a poem with a red crayola marker, but the oldest manuscript I have is from 7 years later. I was 14, and in the story I made the lead character 16 because it seemed like such a glamorous age.
Over the years I’ve written a lot of things, poems, manuscripts, movie scripts, songs and thousands of blog posts, and – for me – every step has been a learning process. At times I feel overwhelmed, thinking that everyone must have it easier than me. Other times I feel like I hit the nail on the head and life is perfect in the realm of writing, but it changes from moment to moment. What keeps me going on those bad days are what I have learned so far.
My biggest lesson learned is patience.
So you wrote a book and now you think you should have an agent and be published and go on book tour, get your movie deal, buy a Porsche, move to NYC, London or L.A. (maybe have a place in all 3?) and be down with it. You’ve book yourself on Letterman, and Conan, and lets not forget all the local shows, morning shows, radio shows – you’re in the big leagues now – you think as you hit save on your manuscript and bounce downstairs to tell your spouse s/he can quit their job. For now, you are rich.
This is where patience comes into play – and honesty.
Now its time to take a week off. Pamper yourself with long walks, conversation with friends who thought your computer ate you, and go on a date with someone you love. THEN, you get to start your first edit.
See – these are my (new) rules:
- Write novel
- Edit novel
- Find Beta Readers to Read Novel (with questions for them to answer to help you understand what they really think about your work)
- Re-edit novel
- Write synopsis (1-2 pages)
- Write query (1 page)
- Go over manuscript one more time to be sure you don’t have any silly errors like “on” instead of “one” (optional)
- Begin your query process
- Buy pint of ice cream, eat in one sitting. Buy more. (optional)
- Lock self in office with phone, email and any other way potential agents can contact you (optional)
- Never sleep (optional)
- Meditate to stop the paranoid voices clamoring on in your brain (optional)
My old rules went like this:
- Write novel
- Have friend read it (for 6 months and never give them questions to answer, if they finish it that is.)
- Blindly submit
- Freak because you don’t have synopsis
- Tweet about how you’re freaking
- Blog about you you’re freaking
- Facebook about how you’re freaking
- Send out more submissions
- Start new WIP
- Give up
- Renew Hope
- Give up again
So you can plainly see why I decided to make these changes.
If you are worried about a Beta Reader ripping your WIP apart, don’t be – that’s what you want them to do so you can get better, to become a stronger writer. We get attached to our WIP’s and to our lovely characters. We want to spend hours and hours with them so we put in scenes the story doesn’t need, and suddenly we’re stalking the (fake) people we love, while dumbing down our work in the process.
My biggest lesson learn is the Beta Reader.
If you don’t have one, ask around on FB or Twitter – or ask me. If I have time I’ll be sure to help, BUT make sure you have questions, because “Well, what do you think?” won’t cut it. What do you want your readers to get out of your novel? Once you figure that out, go from there. And if you’re still not sure – go here to find a template of questions you can ask.
Do all of this BEFORE you try to find an agent, and do this even if you want to self publish. Beta readers will help you target the audience you’re looking to find, so that, maybe, one day you WILL be on Conan talking yourself up.
But then remember… patience. All things worth having takes time – just like your writing and submitting. So be patient with yourself and remind yourself why you write – why you love it – why it’s the air in your lung. And smile 🙂