Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IWSG: Writing Pitfalls



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to the IWSG page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! If it links to Google+, be sure your blog is listed there. Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.


Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!


August 1 question - What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

The awesome co-hosts for the August 1 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!
 

I like this month's question. Maybe that's because I can so easily answer: "If you want to finish your novel and be published, avoid major life changes like selling your home of 20 years." Okay, that's a legit stumbling block, but maybe not really all that helpful. 
I have learned a few real things in the course of writing and publishing 8 books, though. Probably the biggest pitfall for me in the early years was thinking that I couldn't write unless I had large blocks of uninterrupted time so I could really immerse myself. Not surprisingly, that kept me from writing at all until after the kids were in school and old enough to be sort of independent. The standard inability of a mom to complete an uninterrupted thought, let alone a novel, kept me from even trying.

Big chunks of time are nice, but what if you're in the 'grab a minute here and there' stage of your life? My best take-away from the two novels I wrote under those conditions (one of which rests quietly in peace and privacy; the other eventually became Death By Ice Cream) is that outlining is your friend. I wasted so much of the little time I had trying to figure out where I'd been and where I was going. Characters changed randomly, as well, so really, notes and character sketches and all that would have been helpful. With luck, these things will help focus the mental energy whenever a bit of it can be found.
Another pitfall, especially for the self-published author, is the deadline. This one cuts both ways. If you set no deadlines, you are very apt to never actually declare a book finished and publish. But if you hurry too fast to the target, you may release something that isn't ready. I've done both (fortunately I haven't had to pull a book entirely for a major re-write, but I have had to make a lot of fixes after publication on some of my books. This is partly because editing and proofing are done by barter, but more because I got in a hurry and didn't check everything).
That leads me to something that I really need to do for myself: make a pre-publication checklist, with all the steps I need to take, as well as a summary of the formatting that needs to happen (I have failed to justify more than one of my books; one I did on purpose as an experiment, but others have just been oversights, which I quickly corrected). As an author-publisher, I don't do this often enough for it to truly be second nature, so I need visuals and reminders.
I guess my advice all comes from my essential distractedness and lack of organization, because it's really all about making aids to keep scatteredness from derailing my progress.
***
I've been using this space to report on stories submitted, etc., but I have to admit (see initial comment about selling the house) that I haven't written or submitted anything since April, or maybe March? I did make a start on a short story during our recent backpacking trip, and I would like to work it up to something submittable. It's out of my usual genres (more "serious" fiction, or as serious as I can be), so it will take some work. I'm still trying to figure out how to get it to go where I want it it. 
I am also still turning over the ideas and plans for the next Pismawallops PTA mystery. Death By Library is starting to take some shape, if only in my mind. We can probably look for me to draft it in November (during NaNo), with publication in 2020 unless I get very efficient (or very bored) after we return from our extended travels in the first 5 months of 2019.
And there's still that poor mess of an MS from NaNo 2017, or was it 2016? Lots to work on, whenever I find time and mental energy (see above about learning to use whatever bits of time you have efficiently).

26 comments:

  1. Love your tips on using the moments you have to write. Like the title "Death by Library".

    Ronel visiting on Insecure Writer's Support Group day: Time to Say Goodbye

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    1. I think I wasted a lot of opportunities before I figured that out. Now I make good use of things like time in waiting rooms, and airplane flights are just a glorious opportunity to read and write without anything else demanding my attention.

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  2. Extended travels in 2019? I haven't given you permission for that yet... :O

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    1. Would you like to come to New Zealand?

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    2. Oh, if you're trekking South Island I'll let you off. Say hi to the fjords from me.

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  3. A pre-publication checklist is a great tip. There's so much to do, so many details to take care of, that something could get easily overlooked. I've been trying to document lessons learned from my first publishing attempt. I should try to turn it into a formal checklist.

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    1. If you do beat me to making that checklist (which I believe you will), share it! And I'm thinking about the time-line, too: get cover x months out, cover reveal, all the "extra" stuff, adding teasers to the ebooks of previous books in the series (don't think I've done that yet for DBA). All that, as well as justifying the margins and making drop caps at the beginnings of chapters.

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  4. I always thought the same thing about needing big blocks of time, and while for me, that does tend to work better, I no longer ignore those small chunks of time. Every little bit helps! :)

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    1. Exactly. Now I have the luxury, or did until we started moving, of big time blocks. But that's not the norm, and I need to get used to bits again. That undeniably works better for composing than editing, though.

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  5. I love the tip about writing when you can rather than waiting for big chunks of time to write. I have always had to write that way. Now if I could just do so consistently.

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  6. I really like your advice and suggestions. The notes and outlines for irregular writing (I'm going through that now myself), the pre-publishing checklist, the reasonable deadlines. All for practical and useful.

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    1. Now if only I could carry it all out, right?

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  7. My post today was about some typos that got through to the final draft and your post today has made me feel a lot better about that. Thanks.

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    1. Oh, geez. I tried to proof one of my novels myself, because I felt bad about asking my friend to do it for free (or for a free copy). There were so many typos I was mortified! Even with a good proof-reader I expect about 3 per book, which sharp-eyed friends point out to me and I fix, which is what I love about self-publishing.

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  8. Hi Rebecca. Happy IWSG day :). I like your pitfall. I too have learned to write no matter off i have 5 minutes or two hours. Big blocks are usually interrupted blocks too but that’s ok. Progress is progress. Have a lovely rest of your day :)

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  9. We really do have to grab at whatever time we have to write. I don't self-publish, but I always create checklists to help me prepare for the release. A checklist is very helpful.

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    1. The same idea of a checklist would apply before you submit to your agent, editor, etc. Maybe a little different list, but there are still things to remember, and our brains can only hold so much!

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  10. Yes! I wish I hadn’t let other life things stop me from writing. I always thought I needed big chunks of time too. But I don’t. You just have to get something written so you’ll have something to edit, which eventually turns into a story!

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  11. Hi Rebecca. I do like my quiet study to write but I write equally well in a rowdy coffee shop. We have to take it where we get it.
    Thank you for signing up for the WEP challenge. Looking forward to seeing your entry.

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    1. Yes, I like to have an empty house... or a full coffee shop. Go figure.

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  12. I like the idea of making checklists to derail the scatteredness. Belated IWSG Day.

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    1. No apologies for being a day or so behind! I'm still checking in on people.

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  13. Great tip! I still fall into the trap of thinking I need a two-hour writing session for it to be worth it, when the truth is, writing a little bit is better than not writing at all. If I'd just written a sentence for the past month, I'd be a lot farther ahead of the game than I am now.

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