Monday, 25 June 2012

Guest Post with Becca Puglisi: Tips for Fledgling Writers

Today I have a special post for you writerly readers. Becca Puglisi from The Bookshelf Muse has been kind enough to drop by end give all of you some tips for any beginner writers!

5 Tips for Fledgling Writers

When I think back to my first days as a writer, it’s with a mixture of nostalgia and horror. I remember the excitement, that overflowing feeling of creativity and confidence when I realized that I wanted to be a writer. But it was confusing, too. Was I really going to try and write a book? A whole book?? Yikes.

But you have to face your fears, right? So I jumped into that first story like a lunatic. Wrote it, looked it over once, then started sending it to publishers. Oh yes I did. No feedback, no real revision—I’d decided to become an author and that’s what I would be. Immediately.

Thankfully, I’ve learned a few things since 2004, things that might I hope might help today’s newbies avoid some of the mistakes I made.

1.  Join a Critique Group. This advice has been given ad nauseum, but only because it’s so true. No one is objective when it comes to their own work. In order to see it clearly from a reader’s perspective, you have to share it with others. Most major writing organizations (like the SCBWI, for example) have critique group coordinators who put these groups together around the world, and you don’t usually have to be a member to join one. Many local libraries host writing groups and can let you know when they meet. And there are also innumerable online groups like Critique Circle and Critters that you could join. It doesn’t really matter where you plug in; just join one, start sharing, and keep an open mind. In my opinion, this is the single most important thing you can do to improve as a writer.
2.  Adopt a Long-haul Perspective. I’ve heard that, on average, it takes ten years to get published. This is an awful thing to say to beginners; it’s an estimate and may or may not take you quite that long. The truth of this statement is that it takes a long time to hone your craft to publishable quality. You have to write a lot to master consistent voice and character arcs and subtext and cohesive story lines. If you go into this writing gig knowing that you’re in it for the long haul, it’s easier to be patient. Better yet, while publication may (or may not) be your end goal, it’s beneficial to set smaller, more achievable goals along the way. For more information on this, check out Luke Reynold’s excellent post on Redefining Success.
3.  Focus on One Problem at a Time. Writing can be daunting when you first start out, because it seems like everything needs work. Make the job of improving your writing manageable by focusing on one problem area at a time. Read craft books on the subject. Ask your critique partners for help with that particular issue. Look for examples in books you’re reading where the author has done it right. When you feel like you can’t possibly soak up another tip on the subject, move on to something else. That cliché about eating an elephant a bite at a time has been quoted to death, but like most clichés, it contains a kernel of truth.
4.  Read, Read, Read. If joining a crit group is the the most important thing you can do to improve as a writer, reading is a close second. A writer who doesn’t read is like a football player who never watches a game, or a singer who doesn’t listen to music. You can only improve as a writer by seeing how writing is done well. See what ideas authors are coming up with and how they’re executed. Know what’s out there so you don’t reinvent the wheel. Be inspired. Store up ideas and characters and phrases so when it’s time for you to write, the things you’ve read pour out of you in a gloriously unique mix to create something new.
5.  Make Writing a Priority. When we first start out, we don’t know exactly what we’re doing or hope to accomplish. Is this a career? A hobby? A pipe dream? The only way to find out is to write. Set realistic goals for yourself: each day, you will write for twenty minutes, or finish two pages, or complete one writing exercise. Whatever your goal, make it reasonable, make it daily, and revisit it often to adjust if necessary. You may not know just what you want to do with this gift (inclination? desire? curse?), but given enough time, you’ll figure it out. Best of luck!

Recommended Books for Fledgling Writers:
The First Five Pages, Noah Lukeman
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Browne and King
Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, David Gerold

Becca Puglisi is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with 75 different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. The Emotion Thesaurus is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and the PDF can be purchased directly from her blog.

Quote of the Day: Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. - E.L. Doctorow

Monday, 18 June 2012

7 Things for 7 Days

Louise on Sprinkle of Glitter is doing an interactive 7 Things for 7 Days June on her blog. Basically you set yourself seven goals for seven days, or seven goals for the month, year, basically however long you want it to span. I'm going for the seven days thing. Your goals can be big, small, in between, basically anything you want to achieve. And it's for FUN so you don't have to feel as though it's something you must do at a certain time on a certain day, etc, etc.

Here are my seven goals:

1. Write a minimum of 500 words per day for Camp NaNoWriMo. I've fallen behind and need to catch up, even if I don't end up finishing by the end of the month!

2. Take a spa day. I found this awesome website that has tons of DIY facials, masks, scrubs, etc. I will post results and recipes on here.

3. Cook a healthy dinner for the family. I've been baking a lot and my mom said she wants me to try to make something healthy, aka not a cake or fruity loaf. This could be a challenge.

4. Paint. I bought a watercolour sketchpad and a waterproof pen, all I need to do is restock my watercolours and I'll be good to go!

5. Switch up my workout routine. It's gotten kind of blah recently and I don't think my body is responding quite like it did when I started going to the gym at the beginning of May.

6. Take a DIY day. I found this awesome website that has tons of cool DIY jewellery, which would save me money!

7. Enjoy the outdoors. I've actually done this a few times last week but I thought that since the weather is getting really nice I should enjoy more of it outside, rather than cooped up inside, weather permitting of course.

My goals are going to span over seven days and I think I might do this every week if it works out! Or every month, depending on my mood. I'm hoping to do every week so that I'm productive this summer. Anyone can join in! Just head on over to her blog and check it out if you're interested to see what you need to do. I will be starting my 7 Things for 7 Days next monday so that I have a full week to get everything done. This week I will obtain my supplies.

Quote of the day: O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales. - Leo Rosten

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Fathers' Day

I just wanted to say Happy Fathers' Day to all fathers today! People are always fighting over the correct grammar of the 'Fathers' in 'Father's Day'. I personally think it is Fathers' with the plural possessive because it's a day that belongs to all fathers, not just one. This just makes sense to me, but if I'm wrong in this feel free to correct me in the comments section!

Anyway, as I said before, HAPPY FATHERS' DAY!

Quote of the day: Your father, Jo. He never loses patience, never doubts or complains, but always hopes, and works and waits so cheerfully that one is ashamed to do otherwise before him. - Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I just wanted to give you guys an update. I've decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMo for June since when I tried in November when it was actually NaNoWriMo I had way too much school work to even try to work on it. I've been loving it so far. I have all of June off of school and work so I can dedicate a lot of time to this and actually spend time working on my WIP. I kind of cheated by having it already started before Camp, but I was bad and didn't write for a week so I'm where I would be if I had written 1000 words a day. I feel that since Camp NaNoWriMo is taking place in June there's a lot less stress and it seems much more fun (not that it didn't seem fun in November). I highly suggest it, it's great fun! You get put into a cabin with 5 other writers and can write to each other for advice. You can always switch out of your cabin if you don't like it. You can send a letter home (because people need to know you're alive and well) and there are are tons of things to help you out. Camp also takes place in August so if you're a little slow on the uptake you can always try it out then too!

Quote of the day: What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do. - Alan Bennett