Friday, May 22, 2015

Advice. Take it? Or leave it?

One of the things I love about RWA is the amazing amount of support. It's so nice to have a group of people who understand what you are going through, unlike pretty much every other person in your life. 

At times I now feel like the laundry room in my house. My family has a vague understanding of the workings but really only cares about the output. So, yes, I'm "writing," and that is great for whatever that means to them. But, where are the books on the shelves and the money in the bank? I'm 100% certain that I would not still be making an effort to write without the advice and support of my writer friends.

Another thing I've found is that EVERY level of author is willing to try to help you. No. They can't read your book and you shouldn't expect them to. But, I am an advice junkie. I admit it. And if an author can give you pointers or share information, then they likely will.

It's important to set aside pride for the sake of your career and the quality of your book (that's kind of advice so feel free to take or leave it!). Part of that is being open to this advice. Will all of it work for you? Will all of it be good? No. But, I'm a firm believer in "lessons learned" and failure analysis - which is basically a fancy way of saying advice! You probably do it already to some degree. You know when something isn't working.

I'm taking craft classes and learning about the business, based on all of the "I wish I had known" advice I heard.

I'm not rushing.

There are free and very reasonably priced classes. I'm really excited about Southern Magic offering Debra Dixon's Book in a Day workshop.( A book in a day, people!  I recently took an RWA online class about creating a better opening for your book. And I would be lost without Suzanne Johnson's plotting and revision classes. The RWA conference workshops made me wish I could clone myself.

I still have a long way to go with craft, but I'm very glad I put in the time before trying to publish anything. I will continue to do so.

I took a lot of the processes I used at my manufacturing day job and incorporated them into my own writing process. Some of it worked and some failed miserably. And I learned from it and moved forward. Then I read a lot of advice on writing processes, and tried several things I never would have thought of.

Have you received any advice that changed writing for you? For me, it's the "write every day" advice. It made so much sense to me. So logical. But, I can't do it. I tried for eight months to make a habit of writing every day and have never been more miserable and less creative. But I know some people who took this advice and it was a game changer for them. My lesson learned was that I need to set a weekly (not daily) word count...and THAT led to more productivity for me. In effect, it was the advice NOT working, which led to something that did. And who knows, maybe in three years, my writing style will have changed and writing every day will be what's better for me.

So, what's your advice advice? ;-)  Is there one piece of advice that sticks out to you, good or bad?


Nancee Cain said...

Good advice!

Callie James said...

Great post! And so true. I, too, tried and found I could not write daily. It doesn't fit my life to do so and caused more guilt and frustration than anything else. Word count works better for me. I think the best advice I've heard is, "Try to quit writing. If you can't, you know you're a writer." I've tried to quit so many times to save my sanity (and often to save my self-esteem). But I've always found I can't quit. I'm a storyteller. Period. But I have revamped my approach to writing and expectations of writing so many times I can't count.

Also, never compare yourself to another writer. It's difficult to do because everywhere you look online, someone is telling you what you need to do to be a success like THIS (insert author's name) writer. If you take too much of that seriously, you will find yourself doing way too much, feeling bad about yourself the whole time, and you're likely not writing anymore. So no comparing. Enjoy the craft. Put your work out there and begin again.

Jillian said...

Great post AND I'll see you at Deb's workshop, by the way!

Best advice I got and didn't listen to after trying it? I had a friend who tried to convince me that her way of writing was better because when she finished her first draft it was a complete, ready to submit book because she edited as she went and didn't move to the next chapter until the one before it was done. I tried that on my next book and never got past chapter two- UNTIL, I ignore her advice and wrote my way- no edits until done- then I flew through the first draft. True, I had several editing passes after that but at least I had words to edit! LOL

So, the best advice is stay true to your own process. We all get to "The End" but we have to do it our way. :)

Callie James said...

Amen, Jillian. Stay true to your process.

I WISH I could write straight through like that. Unfortunately, I write like your friend, editing along the way. And then after I finish, I do about 5-7 more passes. I'm a bit OCD.

Ali Hubbard said...

Thanks, Nancee! I can't wait to read Saving Evangeline! You are getting closer!

Callie - you are so right that it's important to enjoy the craft! I like what you say about trying to quit writing too. Every time I'm certain this is the wrong path for me, I just can't quite give it up. And comparing doesn't do any good. I haven't fallen into that trap with the exception of word count/productivity. I spent too much time worrying that I may not "be a writer" because I can't write 4 books a year like I had hoped.

Jillian - Yay!!!! See you at the workshop. Oh, yes, on the "stay true to your own process." I'm still figuring all of that out. haha. Editing as you go versus getting the first draft done is a big one. And, another thing for me is that I don't write it all in order (I tried that and certain parts didn't want to wait). So, now, it seems I write the scene I'm thinking of, even if it's a future scene. And try to find a way to connect them a bit after the fact.

Susan said...

Love this! I can't wait for the Deb Dixon workshop, too!

And I know what you mean about sessions at RWA. I wanted to do so many! But one session I attended was so helpful. I can't remember the formal name of it, but it was about dealing with "life getting in the way" and psychological blocks. I talked to one of the presenters at length afterward, and just having someone listen was awesome. And I think that one of the light bulb moments was that writers should do everything it takes to protect their time to write. It sounds intuitive and obvious, but sometimes we don't protect it. And we shouldn't feel guilty about protecting it. Anyway, that was the best thing I came away with from that session! And I love my Southern Magic chapter! Amazing support and advice at every turn!

Thanks for a great post!

Ingrid Seymour said...

Ali, great post! Your approach will probably save you a thousand headaches in the long run. You are building your tool set and this will only make your life easier.

Yep, we all have to figure out our own process. I've heard people explain the way they do it and I can only think, "Man, I would never finish a book if I did it that way!" But every once and again someone will give you an idea and you find that you can make it part of your "way." So I always keep an open mind.

Write On!

Heather said...

The best writing advice I received was to join a group like RWA. Having fellow writers to discuss issues like this one is invaluable. :)

Jillian said...

Ali- I do that same thing about writing out of order. I write them as they come and then weave it together. Way to go!!

Wow, Callie_ I admire that. I get bored by that many passes. LOL

Ali Hubbard said...

Susan - it's amazing how much of this is a mental game. I do a lot of positive self-talk because it seems to work for me. I even made a "motto" that I have on a little postcard. lol.

Ingrid - I think there will always be headaches. haha. But, I'm trying to avoid as many as I can. And keep an open mind, like you say

Heather - definitely great advice. I remember googling "professional organization writing romance" or something like that when I realized I wanted to give this a shot. I was blown AWAY by RWA.

Jillian - whew! Glad it's not just me that writes out of order. We need to come up with a good term for that (it probably already exists. lol).

Thanks so much for stopping by, everybody!