10 Things Learned Since I Started Writing

When I started this writing journey, I was naive to the complexities of it all. I guess in it’s most basic state, writing is just me and the words on the screen or paper. It’s when I started sharing those words that things changed. Here are ten things I learned since I started (in no particular order).


Editing is your best friend. I didn’t understand the serious need for revision and editing. I knew those things were important, but as I progress in my career, it’s abundantly clear how vital good editing is to my work. And I can’t do it on my own.

Sometimes the first draft is hard to finish. The moment I start revising parts of the first draft before it’s finished, I bog myself down and the pace of my writing slows to a crawl. That’s not good. I need to get that draft out, warts and all, as quickly as possible so I can jump in and fix it after it’s done.

I’ll never please everyone with my work. As much as I love what I write, not everyone will see it that way. It’s ok. Art is never universally accepted. There will be some who it doesn’t work for and that’s fine.

articulated-male-818202_960_720Writing is not a solitary endeavor. Contrary to popular belief, writing is not an individual act. Sure, the writer creates and physically writes the story on their own. However, to make it work, we need other sets of eyes to help us tighten our prose. And once that’s done and you want to share it with the world, you need others to spread the love. It takes a team of dedicated individuals to make that happen. I find it best not to piss off those that can help.

Family and friends don’t always support you. I gotta start by saying I have a tremendous amount of support from a lot of my family and friends. They might not agree with the subject of my stories, but they’re super supportive of my work. Then there are those that can care less. Yeah I spent a ton of time working on perfecting my stories, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Just because they are family or friends doesn’t mean they’ll automatically help or buy the book or leave a review. And thats ok. They are under no obligation to do so. If they sell Mary Kay cosmetics does that mean I have to buy them? No. Same with my writing. It’s cool.

Rejection isn’t personal. Let me restate that: rejection isn’t personal. It’s not an indictment of you as an individual. For whatever reason, the story didn’t work for that person. Cool. Move on. Try someone else. Revisit your story to see where the holes are. Send it out again. And again. And again. Maybe try a different market. Whatever the case, remember rejection isn’t personal.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You hear so many uplifting stories about people leaving their day jobs to become full-time authors. I would love to have that kind of financial success from my writing. However, unless your book goes viral and everyone under the sun suddenly wants to read it, this takes time and patience. Lots of it. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. If you have a passion for your craft and continually seek to improve, your chances of this happening are better, but not guaranteed.

work-1627703_960_720Everybody has advice. Take it at your own peril. Many people mean well, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Maybe they do. Talk to fifty different authors and you’ll get fifty different answers. Sift through this massive trove of opinions carefully. Try different things, but always be wary of the advice given. How to find the best and most trustworthy advice? I don’t have an answer. I take in a lot of suggestions and sometimes I’ll try them, sometimes not. It’s a personal thing I guess. Just be careful with what “rules” you follow given to you by others.

Self publishing is easy, getting noticed is not. I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy it was to get my stories uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. It literally was a click or two and *poof* done. That’s it. But that’s also why indie authors are slammed by critics and readers. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I spent a lot of time revising and editing my first collection of stories to leave the best impression I could with potential readers. I still had a few errors in my work. Then when it came to earning eyes on my stories, that was (and still is) a difficult process. I’m basically asking someone to use their hard earned cash to buy a book from an author they don’t know and invest their time with me. That’s a big ask. I better deliver with my work or they won’t come back.

You will have to sacrifice if you want to succeed. When I started writing, I played a lot of video games. One day I came to the realization that the time spent playing games on the Xbox was time spent not writing. How could I hope to grow as a writer and create new work if I spent my time playing games? I stopped cold turkey. I didn’t join my friends on our weekly game night anymore. I didn’t spend hours on a Saturday morning hunting achievements. Instead, I used that time to write more and read more. I’ve whittled down my gaming to two mobile games, that’s it. I miss those gaming sessions, but if I wanted to be serious about my craft, I had to make concessions somewhere.


There you have it, my ten things learned since I started as a writer. As you start your journey or are knee deep in it, how do these compare to your experiences?

Feel free to like, share, and comment. Thanks!

5 Posts for Indie Authors

Indie authors have a tough time getting noticed in the sea of titles out there. Here are five posts to help give you an edge and the motivation to succeed.


Indie Author Finds Success Hitting the Festival Circuit

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Faced with a difficult time being discovered, author Raymond Depew hit the festival circuit to market and sell his books.


@#*&$it – Self-Publishing Does NOT Have to Cost You Anything

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Author K.S. Brooks breaks down how indie authors can publish their work for little to no money–and still turn out a great product!


15 Book Publicity Commandments

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Writer Carolyn Howard-Johnson discusses fifteen top practices when promoting your books.


Please Don’t Buy My Book

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Author David Gaughran breaks down launch success and failure for two of his books.


8 Myths about Book Sales That Authors Need To Ditch Now

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Writer Beth Bacon breaks down myths authors need to eliminate now!


 

Being an indie author, heck any author for that matter, is difficult. The more we as writers hone our craft and work on promoting effectively, the more chance we have to succeed and rise above the rest.

If you found something useful here, please like, comment, and share this post with others. Thanks!

 

Rough Writing

This post is one I originally posted on Facebook at the end of July and was one of my most viewed posts ever! It’s a deeply personal account of a tough moment in my writing “career.” I’ve posted about it before but this seemed to resonate with many writers and readers. Here ya go!


Last year, I learned a valuable lesson in regards to my writing.

I wanted to turn one of my four NaNoWriMo novels into a publishable book. I choose what I thought was the best one and revised it then hired an editor to look it over.

When I got the edits back, I was also given a brutally honest assessment of the work. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear, but man it was so helpful and so spot on. I cannot thank that editor enough for opening my eyes to the problems it had and how far from being ready it was.

Then, a few days later, I attended a writing conference where they were doing a blind reading of submitted stories with a panel of agents and small publishers. Anyone that wanted to could submit a three page sample of their story and they’d read it out loud for the entire conference to hear. Once it got to the point in the story where that agent or editor would’ve rejected the submission, they were to raise their hand. Once a majority of the panel rejected it, they’d stop and offer a critique of why they rejected it (or if it went the entire length, why they would’ve asked for more).

I submitted my three pages. So did about a hundred other writers. They only read five submissions but guess whose got read? Yeah, this guy right here! It was the same story I had my editor work on. Already feeling bummed about the comments received so far, when they started reading mine I was in shock but also curious.

boy-859364_960_720When they got to the second page, hands started flying up. I sipped my Diet Coke like nothing was going on but inside I was crushed. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Their feedback was brutal. Much like the editor I worked with, they didn’t hold back, however this was in front of a room of over a hundred writers! Fortunately the only person that knew who’s story they were critiquing was myself.

Those combined experiences with that draft made me question everything I was doing. Was I good enough? Do I have a clue about what I’m doing? Was I mistakenly claiming the title of “writer?” Should I give up?

My drive home from that conference was a dark, lonely drive. However, when I finally pulled in the driveway, I determined to use this for good.

I vowed to get better, to try harder, to continue progressing in my craft because I love it. I enjoy writing and it’s a part of me now. I chose to take their criticisms not as a personal attack, but as my alarm to improve my writing. I had skill, but it needed work.

It was a tough lesson to learn, but in the end the most valuable thing to happen to me.

Author Spotlight: Mercedes Prunty

If you’ve been following along this year, I’ve featured many new and “new to you” authors on my blog. I believe in supporting my fellow authors and I hope you’ve been able to find new authors to follow and read. Here’s my latest “Author Spotlight,” author Mercedes Prunty, author of Junia and many more books.


Hi Mercedes, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, well I’m a mother, wife, author and blogger and I currently reside in a small seaside town in East Sussex in the UK. I trained as a hairdresser before finding out I was pregnant with my eldest and it was on my maternity leave when I was bored (Before the baby arrived) that I really started writing. I had always written things as a teenager such as short stories and poems in my notebooks in class instead of paying attention so I guess it’s always been in me to write but I didn’t think I would pursue it. But I didn’t actually write and self-publish my first book until after I’d had my second child. I just needed a confidence push to get me going, which my husband gave me with a pep talk of ‘If you don’t try you’ll never know’ and I’m so glad he told me to.

 

How long have you been writing?

Properly, about 4 years. Not properly, my whole life.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

My first proper novel idea came to me whilst visiting my grandparents. My baby was asleep in her travel cot and my grandad had a documentary on TV about temples in Peru and ancient gateways around the world and to be honest I’d always loved things like ‘Tomb raider or Indiana Jones’ and that was when the idea hit me. So I wrote it down and threw it in a drawer, that was until a night feed at 1am one night and I was wide awake, so I wrote the first chapter, the next night the next chapter and so on. It still took me a year to write but that’s what awakened the true writer in me. Thanks Nan and Grandad.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

It’s a novel which is going to be around 50,000 words, I’m writing it for a competition and that’s around the limit they want, because normally my novels are 100,000+ words. It will be a stand-alone and it’s a Zombie horror novel set in my home town. (I mean why not right?) The idea for this one came to me in a dream and I began writing it, then I spotted the competition and thought, why not.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Fantasy and Horror and those are the genre’s I mainly read although I will read pretty much anything just depends on my mood.

 

JuniaWhat authors influenced you?

Funnily enough one of the authors who influenced me a lot was S.D.Perry who wrote the novel adaptions from the Capcom game ‘Resident Evil’. As a teen I was obsessed with Zombie horror (I still am) but I loved those books and read them to death, literally, I had to buy them all again they were unreadable after the 57th time. Another author who influence me was Laurell K Hamilton, this mainly influenced my voice as for most of my works I write in first person as she did with the Anita Blake novels but with my new WIP I am in third person which is actually a nice change.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Resident Evil series that are adaptions of the films. (See I told you I liked zombies). I recently brought the last book in the series but thought I would read them all in a book marathon so I remember what happens and can envision it like one long film. Although I have seen the films hundreds of times over too.

 

AloneDo you write every day? A few days per week?

If and when I can. I have two young children and it’s hard to find the time sometimes. So I just wing it and if I have a quiet day I’ll write, if it’s crazy I don’t.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I have to listen to music when I write, I get so easily distracted by other noises, even the fridge talking distracts me. (My desk is in the kitchen. I’m not really a piggy…much). I tend to have a separate playlist for each novel but I mainly listen to film or video game soundtracks. For my book Junia I listened to the Final Fantasy X soundtrack on repeat for months.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

It’s neater and by that I mean less sloppy, my vocabulary is broadening, my ideas getting more vivid, less mistakes but still a few, the formatting and page layout has improved. I take it all in my stride though and learn as I go along.

 

KeeperOfTheKeyHow do you create the covers for your books?

I’ve done photography and art in school and college (Before I went off to do hairdressing), so I love drawing and taking photos so I tend to use them as my covers. One day I would love a cover to be made for me but my finances can’t accommodate that so I use my own, which isn’t a bad thing as people have commented on how they like my covers as they are not all the same generic ones you get from the shop.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

The Resident Evil films and games, The Last of Us video game (Honestly if you haven’t played it you haven’t lived, it is awesome and so is the soundtrack), Final Fantasy X video game, (I like video games if you haven’t guessed and yes I am a bit of a geek). The Walking Dead… Just anything Zombie horror and Fantasy.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

‘Suddenly Alicia stopped, it looked as if she was trying to listen to something behind the scream of the alarms. Joel stopped and raised his gun up still holding onto the case, then his eyes widened. “RUN!” he screamed grabbing Maria’s hand and dragging her along the corridor.

Glenn turned to see a whole army of the turned chasing after them, their eyes focused on one thing, “The case Joel, drop the case!” He shouted as he also took Alicia’s hand and ran behind them.’

It’s not been edited yet but I’m working on it so this part may or may not change.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Hard to choose just one but… Maybe… The Enemy by Charlie Higson. (Yes it’s another Zombie horror book)

 

How do you market your books?

Social media mostly because it’s cheap / mostly free although I have been planning to try and branch out a little into the paid Facebook and Amazon ads so we’ll soon see if they bring any more punters in. I have also been to a few book festival type events and sold a few copies there too.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

They are all available on Amazon…

From Amazon.com

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

From Amazon.co.uk

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

 

Where can we find you online?

Twitter – @MercedesPrunty

Facebook author page

Blog

 

LoneIf you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I chose the Indie route because I have so many ideas in my brain for stories, that I worried I would forever be trying to find agents or publishers and not have time to write. I have been told by many that even if you score a publishing deal with a traditional publisher that they might not want to take on all your works, so that would mean finding new agents again and I can’t be harassed with that. Although if one day I decided to try it I wouldn’t mind giving traditional a good go. I guess right now the indie scene suits me and it’s so hot right now it’s a great and inspirational scene to be involved in.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Never give up, keep writing, even when it all feels like rubbish and your failing you truly are not. True writers never give up, quitters are the people who didn’t believe and you must believe.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

Hi there! How are ya? Doing good? I hope so.

I’ve got a secret for you.

I love you.

There, I said it. Don’t tell my wife though, she might get jealous. But in all honesty, I love you.

All those hours I’ve spent crafting a story or a novel are spent with you in mind. Did you know that? Did you know when all writers say “I write for myself,” that they’re kinda lying to you? Just a little. I mean we do write what we enjoy but ultimately it’s with you in mind.

I know I know. If we love our craft we should be doing this solely for ourselves. We should do it for the love of doing it. We should expect nothing and be content with the idea that we created something from nothing.

Yeah that’s cool and righteous but really…what’s a writer without a reader?

Without you I’m that guy that always wanted to be a writer. I’d be the person that says “I’ve been working on this story for years. Just waiting to get it right. Or get the time. Or whatever excuse I come up with.” Without the expectation that someone will actually read the darn thing, I’m twisting in the breeze like a sheet out on the line.

But because of you Dear Reader, I can call myself a writer. You’ve taken time out of your busy life to spend it with me. I don’t take that commitment lightly. When you do that–when you share in something so intimate and meaningful to me–you own a part of me. The words you read expose a little bit about me to you.

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Not that the story directly reflects what I want to do or wish to do (I mean there are times when time travel sounds pretty cool) however because I created it, what you read is deeply personal to me.

When you share your thoughts about it, when you’re excited to ask me questions about this character or that story line, I’m screaming inside like a junior high cheerleader. I’ve kept your attention and thoughts long enough for you to care. What an amazing feeling!

And then, when you’re through with my work and leave a review, when you dare click a button and type a few words so others might share in your experience–OMG! It’s a feeling unlike any other.

Dear Reader, you are why I can rightly and confidently call myself a writer. Your time with me is never taken for granted. I treasure it like a pirate.

Argh…welcome aboard matey. I appreciate your stay.

Sincerely,

Jason “Black Jack” Nugent


Psst: Dear Reader, why not check out my newest scifi adventure novel The Selection on Amazon right now? You can even try your hand at winning a free signed paperback copy over on GoodReads. Thanks!

Dear Writer

Dear Writer,

Hi, my name is Jason. I’m not special. I’m not an authority. I’m not a collegiately trained writer (well, sort of). I’m an (almost) average Joe. But I have something to say.

You know that story you keep meaning to write? Remember that idea burning a hole in your skull? Can you picture those characters that feel so life-like to you? Yeah, that. Do you remember?

Why aren’t you writing?

I met many writers this past weekend that said “I don’t have the time” or “I keep meaning to get back to the story” or some other lame excuse. I’m not gonna sugercoat it for you–write the damn thing!

Your first draft will suck. It will. No amount of “revision as you go” will do it any justice. Be ok with this. Embrace it. You must write a first draft in order to edit and revise.

The time excuse doesn’t fly. Do you have fifteen minutes a day? No? Find it. Put the game controller down. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb.” Wake up fifteen minutes earlier. Eat a faster lunch to leave time for writing. Instead of watching that tv show in the evening–write. You can always find a quick fifteen minutes of your day to set aside for writing if you evaluate what you’re actually doing with your time and decide what can be cut from your day in order to give your dream a chance. You decide what you do with your spare time, not someone else. Pretty soon, that fifteen minutes will magically expand to twenty. Then to thirty, and then till you’re too tired to make any sense at all (remember, the first draft will suck!)

I’ve got a secret for you, and unlike a magician, I’m gonna share. Do you know how a novel gets completed? By stringing together pages of words. Those pages are made up of paragraphs. Paragraphs are made from sentences. And those sentences are made from words. Write one word. Add another. Add a couple more. That’s progress kids. Keep typing. E-V-E-R-Y word you add to your story is progress. When your time is short, just remember every word you write is one step closer to completion. Your story is moving forward.

Get the words out. If you really want to write, don’t say “I want to.” Do it! Add a couple words at a time. Soon enough you’ll have a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page, and so on.  Be ok with the first draft sucking. Just get it done. Then go back and fix it.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m not an expert, but I have gone through this process. All it takes to go from “I want to write” to “I’m a writer” is putting down one word at a time.

You got this!

 

Your friend,

-Jason

 

Lessons In Rejection

I’ve been on a mission this year to send more stories out to the wild, hoping they will find good homes. Like a mother bird nudging her chicks off the branch, I’ve been watching and waiting for them to land.

Last year I found myself consumed by doubt. I won’t bore you with the details or the “oh poor me” post. What my doubt did was force me into action.

I’m accustomed to rejections for my short stories. Considering there are maybe 1,000 or so stories submitted to many publications-per month!-it’s not difficult to see how the numbers stack against emerging writers.

I decided to treat each and every rejection as an opportunity for growth. I asked myself a ton of questions: What did I do wrong? How can I make the story stronger? Is the story written poorly? Do I have a jumbled plot? Are my characters relatable?  Did I send it to the right place? 

stamp-2114884_960_720When a rejection comes in, I’ll revisit the story and address what might be wrong. I’ve enlisted other writers and readers for feedback. Once satisfied with the result, I send it back out, hoping it finds a home.

I keep a running document in Google Docs detailing every story submission, when it’s submitted, and whether or not it was accepted or rejected. The document is lengthy. Every story has multiple rejections.

I’m convinced my years in sales prepared me with the thick skin needed to endure constant rejection. Like in my job, I’ve learned to not take rejection personally. Sales and writing aren’t for everyone. If you intend on being successful, meaning-selling your goods/stories-you have to be willing to hear “no” more than you want but pushing harder for a “yes.”

So far this year I’ve accumulated double digit rejections tempered with one acceptance (I’ll post more about that soon!) If you want to succeed, keep trying. And when you get there, please let me know how to follow your path!


Maria Haskins, an excellent writer that you must learn more about, has an awesome post about submitting short stories. Check it out here for inspiration and a good list of what worked for her.