Shut Up and Write it Again

These are words that I have utmost loathing for when they are all sitting pretty next to one another. Utmost. Loathing.

Tell me if you have this problem: when you’re writing, you rarely get something to sound just the way to you want it to the FIRST time ( a lot of you may even get frustrated and quit at this point).

There are first drafts and second drafts and third drafts and rewrites and edits and – well, you get the picture. Sometimes it can seem endless – especially with every day writing tasks like thank you notes or invitations. Let’s face it: did you REALLY mean to tell Jill that you enjoyed hearing about her aunt’s perm nightmare during your wedding shower?

For me, writing something multiple times has always been the most difficult part of my profession. I just want it correct!

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are writers reveling in this process. There are individuals who can’t WAIT for the scribbles of red ink to be returned to them so that they can make the final copy just so. However, if you’re anything like me, you’re hoping that the first time and the last time are synonymous.

That’s rarely, if ever going to be the case.

Here’s the good news: with time, those shorter writings such as blogs, letters and monthly mundane emails won’t take you nearly as long to write.

Why? How?

Repetition, my dear Dawson.

Think of it like this. When you first started your job, you probably felt overwhelmed at times, struggled to get through all of your duties at first and even going to far as to skip lunches or work late if it meant appearing competent. The longer you’ve been at your job, however, the likelier it is you’ve gotten the hang of things.

Writing is the same way. The problem arises when we haven’t practiced in a long time. After all, how often do you write thank you notes? So when you begin writing them for the first time in months or even years, your language feels clunky and reaching – not like you normally speak or present yourself at all.

The solution? Write more often. You only make out thank you notes after a celebration? Write them out for little things – send a friend a card to thank her for buying your lunch. Mail your mother a card to say you’re thinking of her. With time, you’ll realize the message doesn’t need to be long in order to be meaningful.

The same applies for monthly emails you may send out for work. Do you dread the last Friday of the month when you have to send out an all office report? Break it down into parts, doing a little bit each day. That way, if the words aren’t coming to you one day, you still have 29 others. Additionally, cut and paste language from past reports. Copy your paste style. Notice your patterns.

If all else fails, use the tactics I shared in this blog.

If I can’t figure out how to write a letter I’m content sending, I sit down with a piece of paper and write several different versions – about 50-100 words each. Short. Sweet. My mind begins to get into it.

When I really want to share my opinion on Goodreads, but I’m anxious about how ridiculous I’ll sound to other readers I write out five super brief (100 words or less) reviews on recent reads. I don’t think. I don’t go back to edit. I just write until I have 100 words or so. Force yourself to keep moving forward.

It’s practice, my friends.

Unfortunately, we forget that practice rarely means attacking the whole thing at once. How did you learn to walk? How did you learn to drive? How did you learn to raise a child? You weren’t born knowing.

Writing is the same way. Just because you can speak a language doesn’t mean you’re a writer. I feel as if that’s a step that’s somehow missing for many people. “I can speak so why can’t I write well?” Well…writing is a skill that must be learned. Treat it like one.

PS: This is my third draft of this blog









Indie Author? Ugh. Awful Writers, Aren’t They?

For some readers, that is.

Self-published novels, you say? They’re poorly written, badly edited and usually have zero in terms of a traceable plot line. No doubt, indie authors are ruining it for everyone, especially for those writers toiling away at more traditional publishing routes.

Heard of the magical, mystical world of self-publishing? Then you’ve probably encountered one or more of these snarky opinions (and much worse). Miraculously (I know that this will shock many of you) “self-published work” isn’t always synonymous with “terrible.” In fact dear challenger of that previous statement, I could share a disturbingly long list of traditionally published work that’s a total waste of shelf space. We all have our opinions.

The reason an indie author chooses to self-publish is entirely personal. Considering the route? Don’t let the stigma of self-publishing dissuade you from doing so. Not sure why so many people think this route is the way to go? Below are a few of the more popular reasons an author chooses to publish their own work. Read on and you may encounter a whole new perspective on the matter.

Building Relationships

We all have stories inside of us. Sometimes, our only goal is to write that one thing and send it off into the world, hoping it connects us with others who may share a similar story. There are no underlying ambitions – no wish for fame or fortune. A self-published work is simply a means to say what you need to say (you’re welcome). Many indie authors that choose this route have no desire to go through a traditional publishing house only to be told that their story isn’t worth the investment. They’re not in it for the money.

Accepting the Challenge

There is a rule in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers which states that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Whether you’ve managed to struggle through those 10,000 hours of writing or not, creating a book is just plain challenging. Good work doesn’t cease at writing a draft. There’s rewriting, editing, getting feedback from readers, and even more rewrites and tweaking. Some writers may go so far as to have a cover created for their work. Heck, you’d be hard-pressed to keep someone from publishing by any means necessary after all of that! Granted, self-publishing comes with its own set of challenges – and all of this helps to make authors better. Challenge accepted.

A Tryout

If you’re an indie author (or considering the path) and you haven’t heard about some of the more wild success stories, you’ve been living under a rock. Amanda Hocking, E.L. James and James Redfield started out with nothing more than a self-published novel – and now they’re laughing all the way to the bank. Need more evidence? Check out this list of self-published success stories by the Huffington Post. While not everyone approaches this line of reasoning when self-publishing, some indie authors see it as a dream, nay – a GOAL to live out the Cinderella story. No query letters. No toiling after just the right agent. And you know what? It really does happen. There’s a lot of work involved, and dare I say it – some luck. But isn’t that the case whether you navigate through traditional or non-traditional routes in an effort to gain fame and fortune? Making millions this way isn’t necessarily easier, it’s just different. Who wants to be the same?

So hey, do me a favor and quit bashing indie authors and self-publishing. Actually, I can’t stop you, if you’re that determined. So instead just know that I, for one, am a lifelong fan of anyone who has the guts and the gumption to tell the world “my art is good enough.”