You Can’t Bask In Yesterday’s Glory

The thing about writing is this, you can’t bask in yesterday’s glory. As soon as you complete one book, you must begin the next. And as a writer, this is not a bad thing, since I lovefullsizeoutput_1bd7 what I do. I’m always writing in my head anyway, I may as well put it down on paper. But lets face it, it’s easier to think up a story than it is to actually write it.

For years, to help myself go to sleep at night, I have made up stories in my head. It would help me not to think about the problems that I was facing or plans for the next day. These things could wait until morning. I would pray about them, leave them with God, and instead of needless worrying, I would distract myself by making up a story, falling to sleep in the middle of it, and then picking up where I left off the next night. Sometimes I’d work on the same story for months because I’d fall asleep before I had gotten very far. Of course, there were times the story was so captivating, I found myself fighting sleep because I wanted to finally finish it. Since I was a pre-teen, I’ve made up these bedtime stories in my head. I wish I could remember them all, but, alas, it isn’t so.

For much of my life, only traditional publishing existed, and it was extremely difficult to find a publishing company that would even want to look at your manuscript. However, self-published books are all around us now, so I decided to take the plunge and finally write out an entire story. I had no idea of all it would entail. I didn’t even read much about writing before I started. I simply started writing in one of my favorite genres and I attempted to write the type of book I enjoy reading. As I was doing so, I realized I had to research to make the story more realistic. So I researched as I continued writing. Each time I encountered a problem, I Googled for a solution and found it. It’s amazing how we have all the answers at our fingertips now. Then I edited and edited and edited before sending it off to be edited by others. I had a few people read it and give me their input before I published my first novel. Thankfully, anyone can publish a book today and there are even free publishers like Kindle and Create Space that make it easy for new writers to get their books out to the public.

Once your book is out there and people like it, they begin to ask you when the next one will be published. The pressure is on and, if you want to make a career of writing, it will always be on your mind. While you are writing one book, you are already deciding which character you might use for the next book in your series. While you’re promoting your last book(s), you are researching, choosing character names, background, personalities, scene, etc., and when you finish with all of that, the writing process begins all over again.

I heard a helpful YouTube this week with Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn as she interviewed Michaelbrent Collings on the topic How To Write Faster And Never Get Writer’s Block. What stood out to me was the fact that Michaelbrent Collings said, “I go in and begin to start typing and I don’t stop for eight or nine hours. And sometimes I write total crap, but that’s what the delete key is for. But even with writing the total crap, I learn how to write better the next day.” He goes on to explain that writing becomes your life. Everything you experience, watch, observe, hear, or read can potentially help you when you sit down to write. BUT…he works on writing EVERY DAY!

And that’s the KEY to writing. And I’m not there yet. I’m doing so much better, but I can do much better still. With my lifestyle, I doubt I’ll ever be able to write 8 to 9 hours a day, but I’ve read other successful writers who disciplined themselves to write one hour each day. They may not publish as many books at Michaelbrent Collings does each year, but they will continue to publish books on a regular basis.

My first novel, Reluctant to Wed, has been published and is getting great reviews. As I’m basking in the glory of this moment, my fingers are on the the keyboard pounding out the next novel in this series. It’s what I must do. It’s what I love. I’m a writer.

Do you write every day? What time of day is your best writing time? Are you an early bird or a night owl? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

What I Learned From Writing My First Novel

Every writer blogs about writing, sharing all sorts of information pertaining to the entire process. Since I’m a newbie in the world of writers, I wondered what I could possibly say that hasn’t already been written at least a thousand times by authors who are more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. So I decided to share my personal experience in the process of writing my first novel.

When I started fullsizeoutput_19bbmy first draft, I only knew I wanted to tell a story. In reading blogs and books about writing, I discovered that most authors encourage writers to create an outline before starting the first draft. Did I heed that advice? No.

The other advice I had read was that the first draft should simply be written off the top of your head and don’t worry about editing any part of it. Just write it. It will be awful, but just keep writing. Get the story down on paper or on your computer screen. Did I do that? Yes. I wrote furiously
for months and months…and months. However, after over a year of writing, I dearly wished I had created an outline. It was hard to remember what I had written at the beginning of my draft. I think an outline would have kept me organized and on track. When I realized my mistake, I tried writing an outline over half-way through my first draft, but it was too little, too late. I still felt confused. I think this may have made my writing process a lot longer than it needed to be.

Once I finally completed my first draft, I began to fine tune it. This part was fun. The story began to take shape, and it looked and sounded like a real novel. The thesaurus became my second-best friend. It helped me find words to develop vivid imagery. My first-best friend was Google. It helped me with researching character names, scenery, history, locations, and any question that arose in the process of novel writing. (I’m currently learning how to use Pinterest to help with the research of my next book. Perhaps I’ll share about that in another post.)

While working on the third draft of my book, I read that most authors will read through their work at least eight times before publishing it. I was shocked! Eight times, really? After reading through my work for the fourth time, I sent it off to my editor and proofreaders. I gave it to them with excitement and trepidation. Would they like my work? Did I even have potential as a writer or was I just a dreamer? I tried to prepare myself not to be defensive and unwilling to accept constructive criticism, but I also hoped they wouldn’t find much to criticize in my work. Ha!

I have to say that the critique and revisions from my editor and proofreaders, as well as the words of encouragement, helped immensely. They were good suggestions. Their fresh eyes helped me see things in a new light. After that entire process, I re-read my work again…for the fifth time, or was it the sixth? It was hard to keep count at this point. You just do what you have to do until it feels right. I sent it to my proofreaders for a final look and received those revisions back. After, I corrected a few typographical errors, etc., I was ready to read through my book for the sixth or seventh time.

Looking ahead, I  realize that once I have my book formatted for printing and ebook publishing, I will need to read through the work again to make sure it formatted correctly. I believe that will bring me up to the eighth read-through of my novel. It seems these experienced writers — who are way ahead of me — really do know what they’re talking about.

I’m truly grateful for all the bloggers who are giving advice and sharing their personal experiences about writing, editing, publishing, and promoting. I’ve gained greater knowledge and understanding about the craft of writing from these experts, as well as from those who, like me, are starting out and simply sharing thoughts about their journey. The adventure of writing has stretched me further than I ever imagined and broadened my scope of knowledge of history, geography, vocabulary, etc. It’s been a great journey so far and I’m looking forward to starting the process all over again with my next novel, but this time I’ll start with an outline before beginning my first draft.