Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Write Like A Professional

Last year I had a revelation about writing. I realized that if I ever expected to reach professional status - that is actually writing full-time as a career - I was going to have to treat my writing in a professional way.

This doesn't mean I don't shake my fist at my inner editor and call her unsavory names now and again. It doesn't mean I have conquered the mysterious world of spreadsheets and databases that some employ to track their progress. It doesn't mean when I sit down to write I wear my interview clothes. (Not that that wouldn't be kind of fun.)

Writing like a professional means finishing what I start, even when the story truly sucks.
It means setting goals about how much I write each week.
It means gritting my teeth and skipping a rerun on TV (even if it is The Good Wife) and working on the edits to that story that should be sitting on an editor's desk right NOW!
It means subbing to the hardest markets first, even if they are the hardest markets.
It means accepting criticism and rejection and continuing to write anyway.

I used to have this idea that if I wrote on my own time there was no need to set strict goals. There was no point in holding myself to deadlines. Once I was published I would start changing my writing habits.

Then I began to realize what an impact writing habits have on my writing. I would not be able to achieve professional publication unless I was acting like a professional.

None of this means that I don't sometimes blow off writing in favor of an evening vegging in front of the TV. Or that I make every one of my goals and deadlines. Or that I don't sometimes write something short and sweet and sub it to an easy market because I get tired of the "Sorry, it's not what we want" emails.

But I am working on making a habit of writing every day. Of finishing every story. Of polishing as many of those finished stories as possible. And then subbing those polished stories 'til the spec-fic publishing world is crying mercy. Because that (I think) is how the professionals do it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

People Are Stupid. Get Over It.

At some point every author runs up against someone who, for reasons unknown, just dislikes something we've written. Perhaps they say the main character is unsympathetic. Or they don't like the fact that you've used "adult" language. Or maybe they just find your story unsettling. 

Here's a quick heads-up. People are stupid. (They are also entitled to their opinion, but that's a different story.) They have biases and dislikes that have nothing to do with how well your story is written or what the plot is or whether or not your MC is a misogynistic ass. 

And, there is nothing you can do about it. 

So get over it. 

I know it's hard  to ignore the patronizing critique or the scathing comments left on your blog. But obsessing over one or two people who happen to not like your story won't get you anything but a bad case of heartburn. And responding in kind will make you look bad. 

So get over it. 

There is, naturally, an exception to this sage piece of advice. 

If you are beta-ing a story (either in a critique group, writers forum or via email) you should at least consider even the most outlandish criticism. Especially if you see the same type of comments coming from all your readers. This may be a sign that your precious story is not quite the piece of gold you thought it was. 

If, however, we're talking about something that's already published you should ignore the detrimental comments and go about your business. 

That is all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Quick Note

My flash fiction romance (Apology) is now published on Every Day Fiction.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I'm the kind of writer that works best when I have more than one iron in the fire. Sometimes I have a lot of irons in the fire.

Just a glance at my In Progress widget over there on the right margin and you'll see a portion of what I'm working on. And those are just the ones that have a significant portion written. (There is a folder on my laptop entitled The Trunk and another one called Bits of Tripe for things I've either set aside for the time being or started before realizing they stunk.)

But there is a point at which I start to lose my momentum and the Today I... list sits quiet for weeks at a time.

Beginning writers always want to know "How many projects should I be working on at one time?" As with everything else, there are countless answers. A portion of authors work on one project at a time. Others juggle three or four or a dozen at once.

The true answer, the only one that remains true for everyone, is this: Work on however many projects you want, as long as you continue to make progress on at least one.

For me the number of stories I can write simultaneously varies from week to week and month to month. Sometimes even day to day. And that's okay.
It's okay if one day I can only work on the sci-fi western and have to put the steampunk day-in-the-life and the alternate high fantasy aside for a while.
It's also okay if I work on all three side by side for a week or so.
As long as new words are being put down on paper (or laptop) every day I can work on however many projects I want.

But when the words start to die off, it's time to cut back and refocus.
Because finishing one story is better than working on, but never finishing, a dozen.