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So, you want to be a writer. You’ve decided to stop arguing with the voices in your head and give them some free reign. Now what do you do? Well, first and foremost you need to write. You may find that the story inside your head is a little harder to get out on paper than it was floating in your brain. My advice if you are in this place, keep writing. Puke it out on paper, and yes I say puke because it probably won’t be pretty. Don’t get too caught up in the things your aren’t doing right, or if anyone else will love it. Just get it out. Keep writing and be in love with it for as long as you can because tomorrow comes THE EDIT.
If you could insert the theme from JAWS here it would be really good. Now, I forgot to mention that before you start to edit it is helpful to put your book away for at least a couple of weeks. Fall a little less in love with it so that when you hack it to pieces in editing, and if your smart you will, you won’t be so distraught. Keep writing on something else during this time, or just take a little break. Notice I said little break. It is very easy to slip into the I’ll write tomorrow ideal.
Now to the editing. There are many amazing books available to help you with your editing journey. But some general things to look for: First off does it make sense? Does it flow? Did your character keep brown eyes throughout the whole book or did they turn blue halfway through? Sometime it can take months, or years to finish a book so things change. Sometimes your writing becomes so much stronger from first to last that it will require a few changes.
I am a confessed non-grammarian.( I’m sure this is plainly visible to those of you who are.) So how do I ever get my jumbled commas and splices into ship shape order? I use others as a reference. I edit and get help doing it. (I hate it more than walking barefoot across thumbtacks, but I do it.)You have to have legible copy when you try to publish, even in self-publishing. Especially in self-publishing.
Let me say that again and clearly. No one can be moved by your writing if they can’t understand what you are trying to say. I’m not telling you have to be a perfect writer to succeed. Heaven knows I struggle, but you have to get your manuscript to that place one way or the other. For me the “other” is to send it through multiple critiques and correct, and correct, and learn, and correct. You will get better at anything if you keep at it long enough. Don’t use your writing weaknesses to give up if you truly want to do this. You also have to get comfortable with people reading your stuff. This can be really scary, so take your time use baby steps if you need to. Give it to your grandma first, or your best friend. Let them praise and encourage you, but then you’re going to have to find reliable critique partners who won’t tell you your ugly book baby is beautiful. They are great people, but no help at all to you in growing as a writer. You need people who will help you get that baby the plastic surgery it needs.
Every writer struggles with something. Maybe it’s plotting, or dialogue, or emotion. Maybe your like me and dangle your participles all over the place. It doesn’t matter. Let go of the fear that if you are not a perfect writer you will fail. That is a myth that keeps many wonderful stories from getting printed. I am going to make you a promise. If you keep writing and learning and growing you will achieve your dream. You will be a writer. It may take months, years, or we both may be sitting around with dentures when the acceptance letter comes, but I will happen. So, I guess what I’m saying in this post is that your first step is admitting you have a problem. ( Oh wait that’s something else) Your first step is to write, and love it, and grow. The rest will come. You will find your way, but you have to take the first step and write.