How to get on the Write path?
So, after all those classes about improving my craft and all that research about queries and pitches and how to sell your manuscript...what ultimately worked for me?
In the end...all my writing successes can be attributed to 3 key elements:
1. Finding your routine.
For me, this consists of sitting my bootie on the sofa with my laptop (behind a desk never inspired me) and just writing. Never stopping to consider what I'm writing, just getting it down on the screen. If I want to really rock and roll, I set a timer and write until the time is up. Typically in 15 minute intervals. You'd be surprised how many words you can get through.
I don't go back and reread what I've written or start doing re-writes or edits until I have a complete first draft. No joke. This will only slow you down. You could literally spend forever rewriting the same first three chapters (and some folks do just that).
I'm definitely a "pantser" rather than a plotter. I've tried just about every single writing software on the market to help me outline my book and "get organized". What I've found happen with these great products is that I spend so much time typing my information and character specifics into the program that I have no time left to write. Once I get my whole book set up, I don't feel like writing it any longer. I've wasted countless hours doing this. For some, it is the ticket but for me it was a time drain that led me to nowhere.
The important thing to remember here is to find what works for you. You might need the organization of a neatly planned computer program. You might need music playing in the background (I prefer eating SweetTarts by the box full). You might need to write the ending first and then start the story from the beginning after that. I ALWAYS name my book before I write it. I've written entire novels based on the title alone! (Of course, don't get too attached to the title because publishers always have the right to change it for marketing purposes!)
Decide on your plan of action and just do it.
2. Chapters & Networking.
After joining RWA, over 5 years ago...I considered myself "serious" about getting published. I also joined the closest local chapter that I could find but at the time it was several hours away from me. So, as much as I wanted to attend monthly meetings and absorb all that knowledge--I rarely made it there. If you do have a local chapter and you can get deeply involved with them, I highly recommend it.
BUT...what if you can't do that...for whatever reason?
It wasn't until about 3 years ago that I discovered special interest chapters. They are listed on the RWA website and they are as numerous as the many genres of books we write. At one time I belonged to about 7 of them simultaneously. I've belonged to one for erotica writers, historical writers, Celtic writers, paranormal writers, suspense writers, and just about everything in between.
What I've found about chapters is...when you find the one that is right for you...it is an absolute blessing. They will not all be the right fit for you. You have to find the right group of people who want to support you and help you with your journey.
I can tell you that my Celtic Hearts Romance Writers chapter is like a real family to me. They've been there every step of the way. Through the good and the bad and the multitude of rejections they've "had my back". When it comes time to celebrate you'd better believe they're there to join in on the happy dance as well. You will never meet a finer group of writers and women than this one.
Meanwhile, my Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal chapter has done more to help me further my writing career than any of my other chapters. They are extremely proactive in helping writers achieve their PRO status with RWA and in setting up exclusive pitch sessions with both agents and editors! You cannot beat a chapter that will do any or all of these things for you. They've been indispensable and might I add...we've had many many chapter members getting "the call" recently. That speaks for itself.
If you've joined RWA and have not joined a chapter...I recommend doing so ASAP. They are always a great networking source for advice, comfort, support, help with finding critique partners, and a fabulous resource for industry news. Hands down...one of the major reasons I'm published today!
Now, let's chat a minute about CONTESTS!
There are chapter contests (where you pay a fee and enter part of your manuscript) which are usually judged in two rounds. The first round is judged by anyone from readers to unpublished authors to published authors who narrow the field on entrants down to three finalists per category (genre). Then, if you make it to the finals...you'll get your work in front of either an agent or an editor. In my opinion, that is by far the biggest benefit to these type of contests.
BUT...again...you have to make it the top three in your category. The competition is fierce and judging is highly subjective as there are usually so many entries that the first round is judged by a wide variety of judges.
I've never had much luck with these contests. While some folks have gone on to get an agent and/or get published due to them. I think they are a great experience and you can usually get some good critiques back from the judges. They can be costly and you should pay special attention to the entry requirements. Again, some contests will work more to your benefit than others (just like some chapters will be a better fit for you than others).
The other type of contests are those run by websites, publishers, blogs, etc... It is these type of contests (all were totally free of charge) that have done the most for my career. They can be contests for votes (by the public), best first line contests on blogs (often judged by published authors and/or editors), or even pitch contests (judged by agents or editors).
Take a look at what is being offered up and sometimes it is something as small as a critique of your first three chapters or as large as a publishing contract. The point is...can this contest get your name out there or your work read/noticed by the industry?
If the answer is 'yes' to either of those questions, I recommending entering as many of these type of contests as possible.
The first publisher sponsored contest that I ever entered won me my first e-book contract for Miss Taken. The largest publisher sponsored contest I ever entered won me the "notice" of an editor at Dorchester and even though I didn't win the contest it garnered me the ever elusive "call".
In fact, an interesting tidbit on both of these sales (my first e-book sale and my first BIG NY sale) is that I placed 3rd in both of those contests! Lucky number 3?
Honestly, I truly believe that I finally got the call because I was hardheaded and stubborn. I simply refused to take "no" for a final answer. If one person doesn't like it--the very next person might love it.
If you give up now, you'll never know what could have been. If one project has gone cold--start something new.
If you've hit a wall of writer's block--take a look around and see what publishers are looking for in their submission calls. Never thought you could write both erotic historicals and paranormal inspirationals? I'm here to tell you that you can--I sure did.
Is your muse failing to communicate? Try genre hopping. Pick a genre that is as far from what you consider to be your niche as possible and just give it a go. You might just write your first bestseller.
The bottom line? I love to write and it is something that I simply must do. If you feel the same way--you're on the right path--or maybe you're on the write path..
Today I’m adding the final prizes to the "Journey to the Call" prize pack which already includes the following prizes:
- A book entitled: How to Write Attention Grabbing Query & Cover Letters;
- (1) free critique of your query letter;
- (1) free copy of my first published book entitled Miss Taken;
- (1) free online writer workshop (details to be provided);
- (1) free critique of the first 3 chapters of your manuscript; and
- (1) free copy of my award winning romance novella entitled The Saucy Celt
The third set of prizes to be added to the bundle are as follows:
- (1) Entire month of personal mentorship including unlimited e-mail contact for 1 month exclusively for you! Need help with your pitch? Want to talk over your manuscript submission or a contest entry? I'll be there for you.
- (1) Personalized writing plan (We'll develop your future goals in a time line plan!)
- (1) Personally autographed copy of my newest release in PRINT Cross Check My Heart now available from Eternal Press!
In order to be eligible to win the prize pack, you must follow my 3 part blog post journey (every Monday for 3 weeks) here at the Book Boost Blog. You’ll gain entry to the prize pack drawing only if you post a comment or question each week for each week of the post. If you missed week one or week two, there is still time to comment! Contest is closed for new comments on 03/31/2010 and winner will be announced here at the blog shortly thereafter.
The entire prize pack bundle is designed to help “pre-published” authors who are still seeking that elusive “call”.
For this week, tell me about your writing routine or about contest experiences you've had. I enjoy hearing from each of you and if you've left a prior week's comment--I've responded to each of you.
Always remember this...no matter what journey you take or what destination you reach...NEVER give up on your dreams.