“IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE WRITING”
By Sharon Tubbs
I’m no expert but I do have some writing experience as the author of two books. I’ve also facilitated a group for aspiring authors, attended various conferences and workshops, and currently participate in a critique group. So, I’ve talked to plenty of aspiring writers in my day. The one thing I tell them is that becoming an author—a good author—is hard work. It’s about so much more than simply sitting down at a computer and typing whatever comes into your head. Here are a few tips I often share from my experience.
READ: If you want to be a writer, first be a reader. Sounds like common sense, but many aspiring authors don’t get it. You must take the time to read the kinds of books you intend to write. It’ll expose you to alternative writing techniques and give you ideas on how to shape your work.
START SMALL: Before taking on an 80,000-word book, try writing articles related to your book topic for newspapers, journals, or online magazines and blogs. The articles will help hone your skills and give you ideas for expanding the topic into a book. Also, writing pitches and query letters for magazines and newspapers will prep you for writing longer book proposals to traditional publishing houses should you choose to go that route. Don’t be afraid to “give away” some of your material before the book comes out. When done well, previously published articles will actually generate interest in the book to come, not take away from it.
WRITE A LOT: Sit down at your computer at least several times a week and write something, be it a portion of your book, a journal entry, a devotional, etc. This keeps the ideas flowing and your writing skills sharp. If you haven’t written much in your lifetime and aren’t sure about basics and techniques, take a writing workshop (there are many that take place around the country each year) or enroll in a college-level creative writing course.rticles will actually generate interest in the book to come, not take away from it.
SET PRIDE ASIDE: You will be rejected by publishers and readers alike. Nobody’s work appeals to everyone. Still, DO listen to constructive criticism. Set aside your sensitivity and evaluate whether your critics actually have a point. If so, make any necessary changes and keep it moving.
GET AN EDITOR: Everybody, yes, everybody needs one. The most highly-acclaimed writers in the world have skilled editors who read over their material, mark it up, and tell them to make changes. If you’re self-publishing, please set aside the finances to hire a professional editor. Your mother, your uncle, or your best friend won’t do—they may be smart people, but editing is a skill. A good editor isn’t just for moving commas around, but for critiquing and challenging the content, organization, tone, and overall integrity of your work. The worst thing you can do is spend months or years writing something and have it published, only to realize later that it wasn’t nearly as good as you thought—and nobody told you.
WRITE, THEN REWRITE: You won’t arrive at your best work on the first draft, or the second for that matter. You’ll need to write, step away from what you’ve written for awhile, and read it again later. You should see plenty of things to change. Repeat this process over and over. I could tell you how many times I rewrote stories in “Living in the Pink,” but I guarantee you don’t want to know!
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF: God made only one you, so let your uniqueness spill onto the written page. If it is truly meant for your book to be published and you’re working steadily toward that goal, it will happen—if you don’t give up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’ve been writing short stories and poetic rhymes since I was a little girl, so I was ecstatic when I got a publishing deal for my inspirational fiction novel “Living in the Pink”. I’ve also written a self-help book, “Milk and Honey: 10 Principles to Embracing Your Promised Land”. Originally from Indiana, I now live in Florida where I’ve been a newspaper journalist for 16 years. I try to follow my own advice about writing a lot, so my weekends often play out at a Panera Bread while I sip coffee and write on my laptop. In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, watching live theater, and taking relaxing bubble baths. My guilty pleasures are Rocky Road ice cream and Celebrity Apprentice.
Visit me online at http://www.livinginthepink.com