We spent the better part of last night reading a page-turner that warped us through time from 9:30pm to 3:00am. Pshfff. We’ve done better than that. Remember that time we thought we’d read a few chapters of that vampire/witch love story and ended up trying to race dawn to the end of the book? We lost. Although I think we may have discovered time travel, because it certainly didn’t feel like an entire half rotation of the Earth. Or something.
Good writing makes good reading inspires good writing. And ’round and ’round it goes…
So remember, Author-Me, as we move forward with our dreams, to always remember these few basic things that we’ve picked up so far:
Just write. It will keep us sane, and writing inspires more writing, so just write.
Find your writing zen. Rearrange our office if we have to. Find the perfect music to play softly in the background so we can tune out the world around us when we cannot be alone… as well as when we can. Leave the kids with Daddy and camp out at the coffee shop or cafe for a few hours.
Edit. And then edit some more. Edit again.
A good pen is everything. The wrong ink, the wrong color, even the wrong shape of the pen can ruin our zen. Keep plenty of extras on hand in three different places: our desk drawer, our nightstand, and in the car. We will lose 3/4 of them. Happens every time.
There is only one mug. It’s blue and brown with the face of a curious owl and the handle has already broken off once, but we can hardly tell anymore after superglueing it back together again. He’s simple and imperfect and that’s what we love about him. We’ve tried other owl mugs, but they just don’t fit the bill. Fill with hot tea (or wine if feeling frisky) and do not settle into your desk without him. (For example, tonight we are using a substitute owl mug and have YET to finish those edits we sat down to do at 9:00pm. It’s now 2:26am, if you were wondering.)
You are too close. Have another set (or three) of eyes go over our manuscript. They will find the plot holes or continuity errors. They will catch that paragraph where we accidentally said the same word twice. They will note the sentence that’s missing an important word. They’ll point out that time we put the end quotes before the period. We will miss all of these things because we will have the whole entire book in our head all. the. time.
Listen to your characters. If our antagonist is pestering us, give him more attention. Let the characters get us from scene to scene on their own. It will come naturally to them; don’t force it.
Edit some more.
You can never have too many thesauri. Not ever. Not on our life.
Edit again. This time, print the whole darn thing out and grab our favorite red pen. Go over our book line by line. Read the sentences aloud to ourself. Make sure the words feel right.
Don’t rush. Rushing means errors and an overall disrespect for the craft. If our manuscript is not ready for the world to see, don’t push it out there. Even if we self-publish, hire an editor so we won’t look like a fool. We can’t take back what we put out there on the web. Be patient, respect our “baby” with the time it needs be it a few months or a couple of decades. You know, whatever.
Get a bigger chair. EditorCat needs a spot to keep faithful watch over our shoulder without shoving us to the edge of the chair. Or get EditorCat his own chair.
Find time to rest. Sleep is important; we seem to forget that little tidbit. Sure we can pseudo function (i.e. keep the kids alive) on two to three hours of sleep after a heavy night of writing and editing, but it isn’t recommended.
Don’t give up. Corral the plot bunnies and shoulder our way through writer’s block. Keep dreaming and having those enlightening conversations with our imaginary people. We can do this. We’ve never been so passionate about anything in our entire life – and that is how we know that this is our calling.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot