Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Professional Development In Writing

In many professions, employees participate in professional development programs to improve the work they do in the company. Sometimes, this work is in the form of workshops and sometimes, it is purely independent work on the part of the employee.

For authors, there is really no end to the learning. Unfortunately, I see far too many authors out there who stop learning about the craft once they get that first book published. Clearly, they know how to write and now the focus needs to be on marketing. This is far from the truth! Yes, marketing is important, but a continued focus still needs to be placed on insuring your craft, as an author, is improving.

Both my wife and I read romances and we are frequently talking about the latest book we read. Too often, the conversation is not about how good the book was, but on "What happened to this author's ability to write a story?" It was clear that the focus had been more on just writing the story and not about trying to improve the craft!

Authors need to make an effort each year to not just write their stories, but to spend time reviewing their writing, learning new strategies, researching other authors, and yes, take the time to learn new approaches for marketing.

Your learning does not stop with the release of that first novel.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Question from a Writer - More On Writer's Block

I have a question: Sometimes, the problem is not writer's block (at least, I don't think it is.) What happens is that I feel like writing. I want to write. And I know what I want to write. But I start to type and the words will not go together. Just seems like the sentences do not make any sense. The harder I try, the worse the writing gets. Are there exercises that help this problem? What's the best thing to do when this problem hits? 

This is a great question and, actually, it is relatively easy.

Many writers struggle because they fail to remember the concept of the Writing Process. This is something that many seem to believe only works in academic writing, but, in reality, it works for all levels of writing. 

If you study the writing process, you will find a variety of approaches ranging from 3-6 phases of the process. I like to keep things simple and just focus on three. PRE-WRITING, DRAFTING, PUBLISHING. Obviously the pre-writing phase is about planning, outlining, brainstorming and so forth. The drafting is the writing and the publishing is the cleaning things up. For you, it sounds like the problem is showing up in phase 2 and 3.

During the drafting phase, you do write, but you focus only on content of the story. This is not the place where you worry about how things sound. Instead you focus on the content. As you said, "the sentences do not make any sense." My bet is the issue for you is that the words are not sounding the way that you like. In other words, you are trying to do the drafting at the same time as making the sentences "sound pretty" which is what phase 3 is about.

The recommendation is to just write. Don't obsess about the sound of the sentences or the flow of things. This might simply be a plot issue that your brain is trying to work through, and, you will likely discover the answer as you move into the next chapter or scene. 

A second option, and this would work only if you are a plotter, would be to just skip that scene and write the next scene. Again, maybe this is a plotting issue and if you move on, the answer will come to you.

The point is, just write. You can always go back and clean things up later.

Hope that helps!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What Are You Doing To Market Your Book?

In today's publishing climate, marketing is essential. There are so many authors out there and only so many readers. If you have ever gotten online to find a new book, you know what I am talking about here. We can sit for hours, scrolling through title after title, just to find one potential book.

Readers out there need to be guided to your books. They are not likely going to just stumble across your book.

Unfortunately, many writers are still living and trying to make it with the old model of marketing. In that older model, the publishers would create marketing plans to get their authors' titles out there to the readers. Publishers would ship out to those great brick and mortar stores piles of books as well as marketing plans for each of the titles.

But that doesn't necessarily happen any more. This is especially the case for those writers who are taking a self-publishing approach or even working with smaller publishing that have limited resources for marketing.

Authors now have an increased responsibility to add to that marketing plan. Authors have to find a way to get their titles out there to the readers. There is not a "one size fits all" approach. What works for one author may not work for another author. Finding that right approach is not going to be easy, but it is important for authors to make that attempt.

If you want to see sales improve, you have to ask what you are doing personally to get your titles out there.

So, what are YOU doing?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Motivation For Writers

I just saw this on an Instagram post. Walt Disney once said, "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." I see so many writers fail in their careers simply because of all of their talking.

I don't care how many reasons you have for why the writing is not going as planned. The real reason is that you are simply not writing.

You can create storyboards until the sun goes down. You can create character plans, outlines and so forth. You can tell me all of these reasons why the real world is getting in the way. But, when it all comes down to it, your writing is not getting done because you are not writing.

End of story.

This last weekend, I had NPR on the radio and was listening to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.  Romance's ultimate author, Nora Roberts was on and she was asked about if she ever has had writer's block. She said "No." Her comment was what I have said all along. Writer's block is a mental thing. She said that she will always sit down and write, even if it is a piece of garbage. She can always go back and fix it later. The reality is that was still making forward progress.

So, what about you? Put those excuses down and just write today.