Monday, 25 August 2014

How many years does it take to make a writer?

The answer is also a question--the one with which I started this blog all those years ago. How long is a piece of string?
As long as it needs to be. And in my case, learning what I need to know about fiction writing has taken forever.
So if you're a slow writer, take heart. I've signed the contract, seen the cover art and my novella has a publishing date in mid-October.
The Tortoise and the Hare From ''The Æsop for Children'', by   Æsop, illustrated by Milo Winter
Done it at last!

It's the first in a series of cozy mysteries and if you're aiming for publication and thinking you'll never get there, try my step-by-step action plan which will be available soon.

Will it work for everyone? Not sure. The week before the novella was due with my editor, I was still doing my best to wimp out. The book wasn't right, it had holes you could drive a coach and horses through. Why had I ever thought I could write a cozy mystery? Where was I going to dump the clues? What were the clues? Disaster.

How to succeed

Make yourself accountable. I did not tell family and friends but I promised my publisher to be ready by a certain date. People were relying on my finishing. I had a definite deadline that had to be met and an editor who listened to all my reasons for opting out and said "Just finish."

Write a blurb, synopsis and outline. No use saying, "But it'll all change as I write." Of course it will. But the very act of summarizing possible events and how you hope your characters will act and react helps you crystallize ideas and note plot weaknesses. Your synopsis and outline will change and strengthen as you write just as muscles strengthen and lengthen with exercise.

Never ever beat yourself up for missing a day, a week, a month of writing.
Feeling unreasonably guilty does nothing to help you write. It just leaves you upset and demotivated.

Do one thing a day toward creating your book. And it doesn't have to be writing. Just thinking about a character will let him or her develop naturally in real time. Note the things about which you feel strongly during the day, the week. Give your characters the same passions.

Live life. Use it. Local newspapers report lots of odd incidents which can brighten up subplots and tone up saggy middles. Some very successful books have sprung from real life neighbor squabbles. That's the great thing about being a writer. You can always get your own back by disguising particularly annoying people as characters in your book.

Just finish. You can't beat the advice from my editor.

And then there's the marketing...

Marketing as a Beginner, my post for Writers on the Move this month, not only has some interesting marketing ideas but also links to Cynthia Lindeman's amazing list of 101 Writers' Resources from her article for Boost Blog Traffic.
If you don't know it already, check it out. The site is full of superb advice for bloggers.

The Tortoise and the Hare illustration came from ''The Æsop for Children'', by 
Æsop, illustrated by Milo Winter and featured in  Project Gutenberg etext 

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and 
with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give 
it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg 

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The American copyright has expired.