Edit Your Own Work Before Sending

Today is a writing/publishing lesson I learned the hard way. Four years ago I was working as an intern for The Celebrity Cafe. I wrote book, movie, and music reviews, interviewed a few celebs and wrote TV recaps. Mostly, I wrote celebrity news. When I sent my work in most articles would stay when published. Only once or twice was I emailed to rewrite an article because it was not up to the standard the cafe was looking for. But one time an article was published that I was and still not happy with. It was my first writing gig but sometimes I think I should have known better. I was interning and working part time as a casher. I think the TV recaps where the hard part of the internship. I’m not a committed TV watcher but it was a job and I agreed to recap Project Runway. This was around the time they were on Thursday at 9pm and started to air for an hour and half. By 10:30pm I was tired but I would write the article (about 500 to 800 words) and send it straight in. I had work the next morning and I knew there was no time to write Friday and get it on time. Tired is no way to edit your own work. I figured the editors on the other end would catch any inaccuracy, until one recap was published and the article was covered with errors. When I saw it posted up I cringed at all the mistakes I missed the night before and the comment from a stranger talking about the poorly written piece. After that I would write at night and edit it in the morning. I tired to wake up early or just skip breakfast. I never trusted another person to make sure is was blunder free. That Project Runway piece will haunt my mind because I know I’m a better writer than what’s presented in that article. I worry that piece will stop me from getting a dream job one day.

My next internship was a writer/editor for the website, Joonbug. Perspective. If you are writing in any field be aware everyone has limited timetables, and over flowing back-ends. As an editor, even with time crunches, I always read over the articles sent by “my” writers even if I’m sure I still missed mistakes. There could be an article with slip-ups even if it looked like the requirements were covered. I’ve heard of articles being published without being proofread. If an author consistently writes well and they need to post that article that second, editors will post it with not even glance.

Doesn’t matter if it is for print or digital, if you are just starting out and you are sending in articles make sure you send the best piece you can created.

Pinterest For Novel Outlines

I’ve been trying to write and edit a few novels and I have come across a useful tool to help visualize characters, places, and things. What I was normally doing for my character’s description was trying to write everything I envisioned down  in a notebook. Each character would get a page. The page would list physical appearances, personality, and motive. It wasn’t until I saw a post by blogger Shannon A. Thompson called, “Writing Tips: Picture Book” I realized how much detail I was missing by not using this useful tool. Pictures.

I never thought of using pictures to help inspire and build images of characters, places, or objects. I’ve had a Pinterest account for years. When I first signed up I used it a few times but it wasn’t long that I left it having found no use for it. Now I can’t help but think, here was a writing instrument at my fingertips and I have left it idle.  Well, no longer, I have started to use it to help with my novel’s vision. Pinterest has an a great number of pictures, easy access for pinning from other websites, and a board privacy setting (so the world doesn’t have to know what you’re planning). Also, saves on paper and ink, which helps me, keep my limited budget from going over. Also, it adds a bit more of creative fun to the process. I find creating a character board or looking at a few photos can be all the pop I need for a shot of inspiration. Even on days writing is slow I can get a daily writing exercise from a few pinned pictures.

If there is anyone out there who is struggling to write a novel, I hope this helps. It has sure has helped me. If you would like to see Shannon A. Thomas’s examples I have linked to her website and her “Picture Book” blog above.

Writing Tips

October 8, 2012

Making mistakes and learning from them.

I read the books. So much writing advice all stuck in this head. I’ve used it all. And now I will talk about what has helped me and why I think some exercises have worked. No, I haven’t published any of my short stories (though I have tried) or a novel (in the process of one) but I have written over a hundred blog post so I hope that gives me some credit. I think it was easy to write short blurbs of information when it was for work. It’s work. Need to get things done or you don’t get paid. Even unpaid work. I was writing and strangers I never met were reading it. I wrote celebrity news, food news, and style news and I gained experience. I learned that when it was for work I could write. What I struggle with is writing creatively.

Practice With A Schedule.

I have waited for inspiration to strike and I have barely written a paragraph. By sitting down and forcing myself to write everyday I have noticed I write better and faster. Try to write at the same time everyday. Make a schedule. Everyday, every other, or three times a week. Writing is a muscle in the brain and it needs working out like any physical muscle. Train your brain to switch the creative juices on. Just write. Doesn’t have to be a story. Can be in a journal. Everyday tasks or delicious meals you had. I found by writing more often the Muse visited me more often.

Find your time.

Some have a belief it is better to write in the morning and others believe they write better at night. I say, at least you’re writing. I did find after trying different time periods throughout the day I am a better morning writer. Unconscious, one eye open writing keeps me from editing while I’m writing. Just too tired to care.

Bird By Bird.

I read this book by Anne Lamott titled Bird By Bird and one thing stuck with me. She talks about her brother at ten years old. He had three months to write a report on birds which was due the next day. Surrounded by a number of books, and papers on birds and overwhelmed there father sat down next to him and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” I can get overwhelmed with everything I want to write. I don’t where to start, how to end, and jump ahead to just get everything down. Sometimes just the thought of 50,000 words stops me from writing completely. This book taught me to just slow down, take a deep breath and work on one idea or image at a time. Bird by bird equals moment by moment.

Procrastination.

In school I had no problem writing. With impending due dates I knew I had to finish a report/short story or not get a grade. Even then I was guilty of waiting until last minute. After I left school I had no one encouraging me to write. I had to learn to mentally kick myself into action, sit down, and write. Make myself feel guilty if I enjoyed a prize which I had no effort to show. Learn to encourage when I needed compassion. If you grew up with a great work ethic or someone encouraging you just realize how lucky you are.

Stop Being A Perfectionist.

“First draft of anything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway. All writers write shitty first drafts. I’ve had friends who want to read my work but I tell them, at least, not until the second draft. The first draft is where I pour all my ideas out onto a page. I don’t erase anything, write scenes out of order, and don’t correct my spelling or grammar mistakes.

Read.

Be inspired. Notice what you like reading and try your hand at that style. Also, when you read the use of language, vocabulary, and grammar are seeping into the brain. Of course, reading is fun!

Don’t know why I wrote this. Guess I read something that inspired me. Writing this helped me see how far I’ve come as a still struggling creative writer. Maybe, it can help you too.