Monday, March 1, 2010

Writer's Resources #1

We all know that the best way to become a better writer is to simply write! But, there are also books out there that have valuable advice and recommendations that can help you develop your writing skills. In fact there are tons of these "writer advice books" that cover the shelves of bookstores! The difficulty lies in sorting through which ones are from credible sources and which ones are not? I am hoping to help with that task!

My first suggestion to all beginning writers, has also been widely recommended by authors, agents, and publishers alike. Bird by Bird (Some Instructions on Writing and Life) by Anne Lamott is a helpful beginning book. In this book, you will find an honest account of the frustrations and celebrations that a career in writing can bring. The greatest lesson I learned from reading Bird by Bird was that to be a writer you have to treat writing as a profession. In life, you don't just go to work when you feel the whelm to, you have to show up for the hours you are contracted to, or you loose your job! If writers took their writing this serious think of what they could accomplish. Until I read this book, I was treating my writing as a hobby. I now keep records of how many hours I spend writing and researching and my writing goals. This has kept me accountable to my writing and made my writing much better!

Everyone of us take something different from the books we read. I would love to hear what you learn from this book!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Writing World

The last couple of post have been about the frustrations and difficulties that come with writing, but there is something that makes being part of the writing world different from any other. It's the sense of community that you find. For me, the experience of meeting and communicating with other writers has been surprising. I don't think I expected other writers to jump at the chance to help a beginner like me, but they did. Other writers have been so willing to answer my questions and share their experiences about what has worked for them and what hasn't. My biggest question is why? I think it is because when a writer succeeds other writers celebrate with them. I love being part of that! I love the honesty with which other writers answer questions and I love the fact that even those that have been successfully published are always willing to take time to help us beginners. So if you haven't contacted other writers, what are you waiting on? They are the most reliable and valuable resources we have! Remember they've already been there! They've written query letters, dealt with submissions and handled rejections! Find out how they did it. I do want to make a suggestion though. Be respectful of their time and advice. Make sure and let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to answer you!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Query Monster

It has begun. Today I got the first rejection from an agent regarding my children's picture book. From the moment I read the form rejection, my wheels starting turning. I looked back over my query letter, the very one that had been edited no less than 50 times before sending, and wondered what was still wrong with it. This is the thing I hate about query letters! You get a couple of paragraphs to sell yourself and your book. I don't know about anyone else, but as a writer, I tend to be very wordy! My family and friends have always said that they love to listen to me tell stories because the stories are so vivid and full of details. Now, maybe this is just them telling me in the nicest way possible that I talk too much, but maybe not. After all, that is what the art of writing is. It is the weaving of words together in such a way that the reader can visualize the people, places, and even era of time we are describing.

As a child I was so afraid at night. My closet was the source of my greatest fears and much anxiety. I thought it harbored unseen monsters that only ventured out when my parents had left my bedroom. Now as an adult, I have replaced fears of darkness and things that go bump in the night with the Query Monster! It terrifies me to think that so much is depending on that one page of paper. I also find it scary and frustrating as a writer to try and use as few words as possible in describing something I am so very proud of. Our books become our children. Have you ever asked someone about their baby and they answer you with a couple of words? Of course not! I don't know, maybe I am alone in this. Does anyone else not find query letters scary?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Every writer has given up on their writing at one time or another. We all go through those stages in our writing where nothing goes right and thoughts begin to creep into our minds. We start to question whether anyone would want to read what we have written or that maybe we aren't as skilled as we should be. We begin to compare ourselves to other writers that have been more successful than us. All of this leads us to the idea that maybe we just need to give up. I understand! I have been there! After getting so frustrated with plotting a YA novel I was writing, I took the eight spiral notebooks full of back-story, names, setting information, research, and plotting ideas, and threw them into a desk drawer to be forgotten forever! For weeks I was angry with myself for wasting all that time. I had spent hours researching and writing. This was time I spent away from my family and friends. I had actually written about 100 pages of the book, and now I thought it was all for nothing. I tried to put the book out of my mind but plotting ideas kept pooping into my thoughts. I finally realized that taking that time off was exactly what I needed to recenter my focus. Now I am almost near completion on the first book and have the other two entirely plotted out!
As writers we all have our falls and failures. We all get frustrated and want to give up, but this is just the time where we need to stop, step back, take a deep breath, then get back on the horse again!

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill

Monday, February 15, 2010

How bad do you want IT?

As I was watching the Olympics this weekend, the commentators were discussing the time the athletes spent training. Some of them had spent years of their life and were living from job to job just to pay their bills. Some had moved away from their families so they could train. All of this for a couple of minutes and a shot at their dream. I was amazed! As I heard their stories and watched as some of them failed to make it into the final medal rounds, I wondered how they dealt with the failure? How do they get back up and work for 4 more years? The answer is simple! They want IT that BAD! They are willing to eat and sleep the dream. They jump at every opportunity to gain training and experience. IT is all they think and talk about. IT becomes their life. My IT, is becoming a published writer. My dream is to see my words on the pages of a book, out in the world for others to read. Finding your IT, can be the hardest part of life. IT is your purpose!

But for me, it is the next part that has me taking a step back. After you realize your dream, the next step is to ask yourself: How bad to you want IT? I think in writing the typical start-up writer begins with a "great idea" then they write. They write their first book and then begin to query agents or publishers thinking that they will hear back from them instantly. Then nothing happens or rejections come. This is the point where you ask yourself: How bad do you want IT? Are you willing to push through, edit your work over and over, join critique groups, attend writing conferences, and give up hours of your time even though it may take years to get your book published and even then you probaly won't make that much money selling it to publishers? If your answer is YES, then you can be certian you want it that BAD!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


When I first decided to write a children's book, my initial thought was: How hard can it be? Then as I really got down to writing the book and editing it over and over again, I realized it was hard work. I think this is one of the many hurdles that stops a lot of would be writers. This is the place that you really have to ask yourself: why am I writing this book? I think there are lots of reasons why people write. Some like the idea of it. They want to see there book in a bookstore. They like the fame it may bring them. Then there are those that think there is money to be made. They have obviously heard the Stephanie Meyers and JK Rowling stories and think that happens all the time. Then there are the rest of us. The ones that have something to say and think that our thoughts and experiences might actually help others. That is what I found out about my self. You have to really love writing to go through the editing and submission process. Which brings me to my second hurdle. SUBMISSIONS! This is the second place that most writers give up. You have to truly believe in your work and push hard, never giving up even as you get rejection after rejection. So, ask yourself: Why do I want to write?

Monday, February 8, 2010


Welcome to the writing wars blog! I began this blog because, as a new writer, it really feels as though I am fighting a war to understand the world of writing. I am just beginning to learn the process of what it takes to get your writing actually published. I was naive in the beginning because I thought that it would be so easy. Those are rare stories that you hear in which someone writes a perfect manuscript, finds an agent, sells the book, and it becomes a NY Times bestseller (all in a year). I know that I had read how difficult it could be but no one ever thinks it will happen to them. I am writing this in the hopes of helping someone else that find themselves in the same place as me.