Tuesday, September 23, 2008

13 Things I've Learned About Writing

1. Neatness counts – sloppy formatting and creative spelling don’t endear you to editors or publishers

2. Commas ARE arbitrary. Wait – don’t freak out. Where one publisher insists there should be a comma, another will insist there shouldn’t be. Everyone has style sheets to back up their decisions, so use comma(n) sense and be consistent.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t go to bat over a small change suggested by an editor, save your arguments for the big changes. Campaigning to keep a passive verb or a set of ellipses won’t endear you to your publisher.

4. The story is what’s important. All the creative phrases in the world won’t save a boring story. Make it all about the tale you’re telling, not the words you use to tell it.

5. Write it first. Worry about promo, book trailers, and tweaking your website AFTER you’ve finished and submitted your manuscript, not before.

6. Read it out loud. What looks good on paper doesn’t always sound good. Do your words flow easily?

7. Submit and move on. Once a manuscript leaves your hands, don’t obsess over it. It’s gone and you should be writing something new.

8. Rejections are necessary. Don’t fret over them. Everyone gets them and they’re not personal.

9. One contract doesn’t necessarily beget another. Selling a story isn’t the key to instant success – in fact there’s really no such thing as instant success. Even people who appear to be overnight sensations worked long and hard for that ‘overnight’ to happen.

10. Don’t throw down with anyone – public arguments with readers, publishers, editors, or reviewers are bad form with a capital B. You won’t regret taking the high road when someone shreds your work.

11. Look for objective critiques. Friends and family may stroke your ego. You need someone who can tell it to you like it is.

12. Be strong. This is a tough business, expect snafus, deal with them and move on.

13. Remember why you started writing. If it’s because you love it, don’t ever give up. If it’s because you wanted to make a buck, you’re in the wrong business.

6 comments:

Jen said...

Great list! I'll add, don't add an "s" to toward, forward, etc --unless you're English ;-)

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

LOL! But add an 's to your possessives that end in S, please.

Pauline B Jones said...

great idea to make lists! and great advice. :-)

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Thanks, Pauline!

Lynda K. Scott said...

I absolutely agree with #5. Great list!

Savanna Kougar said...

Couldn't have said it better!