Monday, February 09, 2009

On Writing

I ran across a fantastic article the other day in a booklet titled Get Published and written by Michael Geffner, listing the "10 commandments for writers". I was totally intrigued because it explains in layman’s terms on how to build your business. This following article has been paraphrased.

1. Network

The article states that networking is a must-have tool these days in your writing existence. If writer’s ignore this aspect of their business, surely they will not expand to encompass all the opportunities that are available to them. Many people claim to be shy or totally not interested in getting themselves out into the world, but the success of their business depends on their ability to touch base with people and networking is the best source.

2. Learn to work under deadline pressure

It doesn’t take a genius to know that deadlines can be crucial to any job and the stress we feel can sometimes overwhelm us. However, as human beings we have a tendency to put off until the last minute jobs that need to be completed. Stress! We’ve all been there. We complain that our normal lives take up so much of our time, family schedules conflict with our business, we aren’t inspired, etc. There are plenty of excuses, but when we’re pushed to the wall and that deadline arrives, we pull up our boot straps and dig in.

If we learn to set schedules or maybe even small deadlines to normal activities, we’d accomplish those tasks that seem to slip through the cracks. It’s good practice as a writer to develop this skill.

3. Read something every day

Whether you are a writer, a reader, or whatever your profession is, reading every day helps in many ways. First it frees up a little time for you, to sit back and relax. Second, as you read, you are absorbing. The thought is: what goes into your brain, eventually comes out. Similar to the computer . . .garbage in, garbage out. Well, you get the idea. For a writer that is important. It helps to develop your craft. So read and enjoy.

4. Write something every day

No matter what you do, as a writer you must be serious about your craft. That novel or article you want to write will not do it on its own. As Nora Roberts use to say, “You can’t edit a blank page.” Put your behind in the chair and write. At first it may seem hard to do, but set aside a block of time and try to write 100 words a day. You might be surprised how fast the time goes and how much you can accomplish. Words are inside you, waiting to get out. So get serious about your business.

5. Make friends with other writers

You’ll be inspired by reading and being around other creative people. Hobnobbing is the best way to develop ideas and as a writer this growth is necessary. You will be surprised how much energy you can derive from positive people.

6. Turn out clean copy

Make sure all of your work is spelled correctly, that your research is accurate, and that your entire manuscript is it tiptop shape. Use the tools of you trade to ensure accuracy for tiny mistakes are a turn-off for publishers. If your material is not correct or in good shape, expect a rejection. Sloppy work is not acceptable.

7. Study the business

Every writer needs to know about the editor or publisher in the house he intends to submit to. Research that house before sending out your material. Be sure they will accept your genre. Also make sure you are sending your material to the correct person within that house, whether it be an agent, an editor or directly to the publisher. Plan, prepare and you won't be sorry.

8. Find a mentor

Look for someone who is successful and has the same interest in your field of writing. Someone who can teach you the ropes and help you not make the same mistakes he or she did. Someone who will listen and guide you through those bleak moments when writing gets tough. A mentor can be a huge benefit to a new or struggling writer.

9. Build your portfolio

Have a professional picture taken. Develop a press kit for newspaper, radio, and television presentations. Develop a good introductory letter. Design a postcard for your mailing and a tri-folded brochure for distribution. Make sure your business card is correct and attractive, not too busy. These are great tools to have ready before you start marketing your book.

10. Stay on the case.

Don't give up or become lazy. Push yourself to write each day. Once you slack off, it is extremely hard to get back into the groove. Pick up Stephen King's book On Writing. Learn. Write on your blog. Join Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and others to make contact with writers to hear what they are doing with their business. But write, write, write. This is your business and what you put into it is what you will get out of it. Be proud of who you are and what you are doing.

From The Writer's Magazine, Get Published, by Michael P. Geffner, Pgs 3-5


Joyce4Books said...

Gwyn -- This list is great!! Thank you for sharing it. These ideas are spot on. I have an idea to add to the list -- STAY POSITIVE. It is so easy to get bogged down with negative thoughts, especially these days. The writer's world is brighter and possibilities are more attainable with a positive attitude. Never give up.
Thanks again!! -- Your pal, Joyce

Morgan Mandel said...

Those are great tips. They're a good reminder of what to keep in mind when trying to get a book out to the public.

Morgan Mandel

Book Report said...

Wow! This is the best list ever! As a writer of research papers, I know I am guilty of some of the commandments (and so I have sinned...haha). Since I am busy, I do not have time to establish more strong relationships with the other writers. Don't get me wrong, I am not a loner. I'm still finding more time to "meet" others.

Katie Hines said...

Great article and list. I was mentally ticking off things as I read to see what I had and hadn't done.

Chester Campbell said...

Arrgh! You really know how to hurt a guy. Great ideas, or maybe I should say challenges. I know what I need to do, now I have to make up my mind to do it. Trying to "find" time is like looking for a needle in a bucket of nails with a metal detector.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Good advice.


Heidiwriter said...

Great Advice. We all need to be reminded now and then.

Michael Geffner said...

Hi, Gwyn. Thanks so much for posting my 10 Commandments article. Appreciate the plug. I've actually written two sequels to this, both of which appear on my blog: Enjoy! And thanks again, Mike Geffner