Embrace the learning curve

Topaz ?
Author Topaz ?
Collection Writer

I’m often asked by people what my process is for writing. 

How did I finish my novel, how did I get published, where do I draw my inspiration from, how can they get published? 

I always tell them the same thing, it’s different for everyone but one thing is a must. 

You MUST sit your butt in a chair and WRITE. 

In a perfect world, you’d do it every single day. In the real world you find the time to do it as often as you can, preferably every single day.

I’m a slow writer. My ideas live in my head for a very long time before they willingly spin themselves onto the paper. 

Lake Effect was a fifteen year labor of love. Granted, I took a brief detour there to go back to #college and earn my Personal Chef’s license, but for me it was all part of the process. 

I had to write a paper every week for two years in addition to #studying, running my home and #working a full time job. That and being in the #kitchen two times a week, twelve hour days, taught me #discipline. I didn’t realize it at the time but learning to be organized with my #cooking made me realize the value of organization or, as they call it in the professional kitchen, mise en place. Translated it means, to put in place.

For five years after I graduated, my husband and I ran a small #catering operation. We specialized in romantic dinners for two or private dinner #parties in people’s homes. We were very successful but learned quickly the need for #organization. You didn’t want to be in the middle of serving someone dinner and realize you’d left an important ingredient at home. I would make lists upon lists to be certain that never happened.

Writing is the same way. 

When I get an idea, I jot it down, no matter how strange or disconnected it may seem from my story. 

I keep two writing diaries and carry them with me almost everywhere. I’ve been known to write my ideas down on a napkin, a grocery list, my hand, whatever is handy at the time. Because you never know when or where #inspiration will be hiding, it’s just a good habit to get into.

Since I finished Lake Effect, I’ve finished three more #novels, all in various stages of finalization before sending them out for consideration. In addition to that I’ve collected a mass of #ideas and ramblings that will one day be the start of entirely new #stories

It’s a process. 

Some days I can sit down and hammer out page after page. Some days I can sit in front of my computer screen and stare blankly, unable to #write a single word. Funny thing is, the more I write, the more I want to write, the more I have to say. On those days when I just can’t seem to find my writing mojo, I walk away but only after I’ve tried for an hour.

One thing I would tell you about writing, and pay attention, this is important. 

You will fail. 

It’s really a guarantee that at some point your work will be rejected. For sure your work will be critiqued and for me, my #relatives and friends have delivered some of the most back handed and hurtful comments of all. I’m not sure why that is but I will tell you that most of my writing buddies can relate. My #husband and #kids have always been my number one supporters, other relatives and some friends, not so much. And you know what? I’m cool with that. Their skepticism is what keeps me writing, keeps me striving to be a better #writer

 I’ve learned over the years that good things can come from critiques.

Tread carefully with this, it’s a slippery slope. 

NEVER allow someone’s opinions to sway you away from what you want to write. 

You learn over time to weed out the good from the bad. Try not to read your work to every single person you meet. I have a few trusted #friends and always my #hubby, who are patient and kind enough to listen to my latest efforts. They also are honest with their opinions. 

Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t. 

You’re never right one hundred percent of the time and if you can’t take #critique from a trusted listener how the hell will you ever work with an editor? 

Believe me; I’ve yet to meet the #editor who doesn’t have an #opinion about my #writing, but unlike some, I LOVE that part. When a #professional, someone who does this for a living, is telling me I need to cut something out, add something in or kill of Uncle Bob, you can bet I’m going to take note. I may not agree but that’s cool too. I’ll state my case and fight for my cause. In most instances their suggestions make my work better, polished, professional.

Finally, I will tell you there’s no substitute for research. 

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT. In this day and age, #research is easier than ever but that doesn’t mean you should rely solely upon #Wikipedia or #Google. One thing I’ve learned is that people #LOVE to talk about what they know. When the hero in my second novel had his #motorcycle break down I didn’t have a clue how to write that scene, so I fudged it and moved through to get my thoughts down. Then, when I had more time, I found myself an #expert who was more than willing to talk to me about possible causes for that breakdown. It changed my #novel from mediocre to believable in one fell swoop.

Never pay someone to publish your work. 

Look into the process of sending out #query letters and do it, but only do it when your work is complete. Be prepared for #rejection, it's part of the game. Don’t let it shut you down, keep #writing

There’s a #learning curve here, embrace it. 


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