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In November I had good intentions to get writing but they were derailed when my day job got a little crazy. I am now back on track and looking forward to a productive year. To assist me I’ve engaged a writing coach. What is a writing coach you ask?
To me it is someone who assists / mentors a writer by helping them move forward, provide an objective perspective on all things and guides them thru the process with encouragement along the way. They help with setting goals; deadlines; overcoming obstacles (I.e. bogged down in the process, reached a point where you don’t know where to go next, etc.); and whatever the writer may need to help them move forward and be the best writer they can.
My overall goal is to have my coach help me determine a workable schedule and set attainable goals while they guide me thru the process of developing a clear and compelling plot, help me determine a tone, style, and voice based on my intended audience. I want to finish with a coherent and captivating final piece of literature that I am proud to publish and share.
I envision the process will take me from my initial partial draft (which I’ve just sent – OMG – a slight panic attack after I hit send), various drafts (I expect a few) to the editorial process (editing, copyediting, and proofreading) and finally the end goal being a product that I can publish with a sense of accomplishment and pride.
As I finished writing this blog, I realized a few things:
1. The first person who will read what I have written is a successful multi-published author.
2. I wonder what I was thinking when I hit send.
3. I am optimistic and hopeful that my submission will not be completely marred with red ink.
4. At this moment in time, my dream of being a published author has transition into becoming a reality.
Wow. Now all I have to do is wait on the feedback – which is equal parts scary and exciting.
Next. . . Feedback – Where do I go from here?
Writing Challenges – Frame of Mind
In my day job, I spend a good portion of my day writing. It’s a challenge at times to switch hats from legalese and technical writing to non-fiction. Part of the challenge is that I am familiar with writing about what I know. Whether it be an opinion piece stepped in research, advice or a guide on how to perform some function. It’s tethered in the here and now and grounded in known facts.
When I switch to my night job of writing non-fiction the framework in which I write changes drastically. I sometimes struggle with those new parameters because they are so different. The purpose and form have changed and the expectation is vastly disparate.
There is so much to learn and assimilate. A lot of the terminology is new and there are acronyms being used that I don’t recognize. As well as familiarizing myself with style guides that I haven’t opened in a few decades. Then, I learned to my horror that two spaces is no longer the standard after a period. I missed the memo on that one, so much so that I have to search and replace to remove them.
When I sit down to write sometimes the story flows onto the page and then I struggle with the structure and form. Other times the structure flows, but the story lags behind. Regardless of the struggle, I just have to write and forget about whether it is right or wrong and get the story down on the page. The writing and form doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be. So I write.
Help is Out There – Writing Resources
I am always looking for new resources to assist me. There are some great ones out there and several I have tapped into via Facebook. The Writer’s Circle is one of my favourites. They have interesting posts and great links to other material.
One recent post lead me to the The Write at Home blog which has a great Resource Library for grammar, idioms, punctuation etc. Another favourite of mine on Facebook is author Jami Gold. Jami has a great website http://jamigold.com/blog/. There is a wealth of information on her site covering everything from worksheets to publishing.
Another fantastic resource is K.M. Weiland’s website http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com. There is an awesome story structure database that contains different genres pulled from books and movies – something for everyone. If that isn’t enough, there are great downloads and a series of podcasts (300+) on various topics to tempt you.
All you have to do is a quick search on the internet and there is information at your fingertips. It’s not like the old days when you had to trek down to the local library and search the card catalogue looking for reference materials. Those days are long gone and now you can search those catalogues from the comfort of your own home to see if there is anything of interest. You can then reserve your book online and go pick it up or if you luck out, download it as an eBook.
The key is to find what speaks to you and ignore the rest. Also, don’t get lost in the net. There is so much information out there that you can spend more time researching and reading about writing than actually writing.
Procrastination vs. Choices
I’ve not been as fruitful as I would like to have been the last few months. All of my good intentions out the window. Life has a way of getting away from us and sometimes we let it happen.
A post on Facebook by a fellow writer the other day caught me out and stuck with me.
“there’s really no such thing as procrastination, just choices…it’s all down to choices I make. Sometimes every hour or every minute.”
She is right. It comes down to choices. Looking back over the last few months, I’m not happy with the choices I’ve made. I let myself get into a slump and didn’t drag myself out of it until now. Regardless of what was going on around me, I got in a rut and now it’s time to get out of it.
Life only passes you by if you let it and I did. I got lazy over the summer thinking I’ll do it tomorrow but ‘something’ always came up – choices and I didn’t make the best ones.
Well it’s time to get my groove back. Part of that is to get myself a writing coach. It is time to get someone to mentor me and motivate me in my writing. I’m so use to ‘deadlines’ in my day job that I let the lack in my writing get the best of me.
I’m at a point in my writing where I need helpful feedback. Am I on the right track? Where am I weak? What needs improvement? What’s good? What’s bad? What can I do better?
All questions swirling around in my head. I need guidance. It’s scary reaching out to someone – asking for help. Letting them analyze what I have written. I know it needs improvement and a lot of work to become a finished product that is as flawless as it can be. It’s still hard to take that next step even knowing it needs work. I guess I had to find someone that I think I can trust with my work. Someone who I believe will have my best interests at heart while being honest but no cruel.
I feel like the child who passes a scribbled picture to their parent with bated anticipation of their comments. As the parent looks down at the picture, thinking to himself or herself it looks like…then looking to their child and commenting on what they do see – the beautiful colors hoping for a clue to bring the scribbles together. “See mommy I made your dress blue. Do you like it?” With that clue the scribbles form into something more.
That’s where I am at. Presenting my scribbles with anticipation hoping that they show what I want and that they form the story I was hoping to convey and not just scribbles on a page.
Spring Cleaning – Setting Goals
I’m doing some spring cleaning on the writing front. I’ve looked at where I am at and where I am going and am revisiting my goals for the year. Spring to me is about renewal and that is where I am at.
If you’ve been on my blog before, the first difference is I’ve changed my header. I’m a visual person and although I liked my previous header I wasn’t in love with it and it didn’t reflect where I am at right now. I like the new look. It’s clean-looking, the colors are subtle but it’s still distinctive.
On the actual writing side of the business, I am two-thirds of the way through my first book draft. There have a lot of revisions as I’ve made some changes and corrected some missteps. For me, writing is an iterative process. The more I learn, the more I try to apply.
Translation: The first book will take the longest but it will pay-off on the second and third.
Once I get the first draft to an editor, I suspect the hardest part will occur. Rewrites, fixing plot and story arc. Accepting the critique of my work and applying it. That has been my biggest roadblock. I know once I finish the draft it has to be sent out, so I have been a creative procrastinator the last few months.
Part of my spring cleaning exercise is to mentally get over the fear, just do it and move on. So in setting my new goals, I am going to set some timelines for myself. One of those goals is to be more proactive on my blog and put up a post once a week. It may only be a paragraph or two but I am committing to writing something once a week, even if it’s just to say its been an interesting week.
So my first two goals are:
1. Finish the book one.
2. Post once a week.
See you next week.