5 Acceptable Ways to Procrastinate Editing


procrast

Experienced writers know their work isn’t through after the first draft. The opposite is true: Your first draft is the beginning of a long, tedious cycle. Quality work comes from months of writing, editing, and rewriting.

Most of a writer’s stress emerges in the editing phase. If done without pause, editing can make you sick. I’ve spent hours staring at sentences, trying make them perfect. Sometimes this is a sign you’re done editing—Briana Morgan discusses this in her article, When to Stop Editing. In my case, I rarely feel my work is good enough. When I reach the obsessive phase, I know I have to stop.

Not only are breaks healthy for authors, they improve writing quality. Stepping away from the manuscript lets us spot errors more clearly.

If you’re worried about losing your storytelling spark during this break, never fear. Writers find inspiration in everything we do; here are five guilt-free ways to pass time spent away from your manuscript.

 

GO OUTSIDE.

Many writers forget to go breathe fresh air (I’m one of them.)

A manuscript is so demanding! It eats our time, and we lose track of days…months…seasons…

Go outside to read in the backyard, or photograph flowers as they bloom. Take a walk and pay attention to people on the streets. If you meet someone walking a cute dog, ask if you can pet the dog—fluffy animals always make things better!

Gather life experiences to write in your next story.

 

READ A LOT.

For a writer, reading is crucial. Each time we read a published work, we open the door for improvement in the craft. If you’re mentally worn out from edits, reading is perhaps the most beneficial way to keep busy.

We learn to write well by exposing ourselves to good writing. Reading shows us:

  • Character traits, and how to write realistic protagonists.
  • Punctuation and grammar. You may have gotten good grades at school, but it never hurts to brush up on this by seeing it used first-hand.
  • Description. Let an experienced author sweep you away with words; learn their secrets to improve your prose.
  • Story structure. Pay attention to a book’s story arc, and try to identify the midpoint and climax. Writers need to know this.

She’s Novel offers insight on this in her article, How to Read Critically and Become a Better Author.

 

UPDATE YOUR BLOG.

As someone devoted to writing and blogging, I struggle to manage both projects once in the heavy editing mindset.

  • It affects my blog. When I get caught up editing, I forget to plan posts ahead of time, resulting in weeks of no updates.
  • It affects my writing. In the back of my mind, I know pageviews are probably going down; I know I’m ignoring my blogging schedule, which creates a whirlwind of guilt and conflict.

This is your chance to make up for the time you spent neglecting your blog.

 

CLEAN YOUR WORKSPACE.

Of the five options, this doesn’t sound like the most exciting way to kill time. Trust me, it’s necessary.

During the weeks spent immersed in edits, I bet you didn’t empty your wastepaper basket. A pile of books has accumulated on your desk, your carpet may need vacuuming, and shoes have ended up all over the place.

It’s ridiculous how fast a workspace can get messy. You might ask yourself, “How did that coffee cup end up here?” Or, “Where did that layer of dust come from?”

Tidying up will make you feel better about returning to edits.

 

TAKE LOTS OF NAPS.

Catch up on rest you’ve neglected while working.

Many people don’t realize the effort edits require; it can be physically draining. Don’t feel ashamed to sleep for a while. Just because you’re not actively working on something, doesn’t mean you’re not making progress.

Your body and mind need recharging in order to do a good job.

 

It’s tempting to open that manuscript and make one more, tiny change. Trust me, you’ll make more progress after letting it go for a while.

Two weeks may seem like a long time to not get editing done, but don’t worry. You will finish, and the resting period will help you produce quality work. Remember, time flies—before you know it, you’ll be at the computer editing that manuscript…again.

You may even find yourself wishing for another break. How’s that for irony?

The Start of Serenade Beta


Well, guys–it’s begun.

Earlier this year I completed a draft of Serenade coherent enough to show other people, but since it’s still a little rusty, it’s time to enter the beta reading phase. What is beta reading? It means I find people I trust who are willing to give me some of their time in order to help make Serenade the best it can be.

This is a frightening phase for the writer. I’m second-guessing every scene I wrote and was proud of; I’m afraid the characters are unrealistic or that the entire storyline will come off as a joke. When I slip into moments of such panic, I have to remind myself that beta readers are here to help mend any such errors. I have to trust that they’ll help make this book into a diamond.

It hasn’t been a year since I published Dissonance, and already I am weaving together the next adventure for my beloved characters. Serenade still won’t be out for a while (and there’s the possibility of a title change by the time all this is finished.) Using the notes my beta readers take, I’ll be working on it again in the autumn and arranging for publication in the winter.

I remember when four years ago I wanted nothing but to be an author. Now I am, and it never really gets easier, but with friends to help and support me–as well as the lovely reviews I get, even honest ones!–it’s totally worth it.

While beta readers tackle Serenade, I’m working on a few other projects, including my next blog serial expected to launch in the summer, and musehollow–a collection of shorter fiction. I want to learn to write good stories, short stories, and poetry. Yesterday I published the first musehollow tale here!

I’m living the dream–even the editing, the work, is part of the dream. Thanks for being with me through all of this, and I can’t wait until you can read Serenade too!

 

Advice for the Struggling Novelist


Sometimes it’s hard to write–oh, fine. It’s always hard to write. We lack motivation, ideas, or support from fellow writers; when that happens, it’s tempting to draw a blank and give up.

That’s when we need pep talks to motivate us; it hurts when our passion becomes a challenge. I’m sure you’ve asked at some point in a moment of frustration, Who cares about my story? The short answer is that you do and your soul needs to hear it; however, that answer can’t always beat Writer’s Block.

I’d like to share with you some truths I whisper to myself when I feel like giving up.

  1. You have a story. No one can tell it like you will. It may seem that only you care about the story, but speak up. You might impress a listener so much that they’ll need to read the book, which then becomes a motivator for you to write!
  2. Every story has an audience. Some people might think your idea bizarre, but if you’re brave and stand by it, sooner or later you’ll meet your first fan. It’s true that some stories have larger audiences than others, but having a small audience is not a bad thing. It becomes a strength when your audience is small but devoted.
  3. It’s worth the effort. Sitting down to write a chapter takes tremendous discipline–no one wants to stare at a blank page. But once you’ve finished for the day, you’ll be glad you set an hour aside to write. It might amount to barely a page–but it’s a page more than you had!
  4. Every page counts. They might seem unimpressive when seen on their own, but pages make a book. Write a page a day, gain momentum, and in a month you’ll have made great progress! The idea of spending years on a draft isn’t appealing, but one day you’ll be proud of every moment you invested.
  5. With practice, it gets better. There’s always room for improvement–most days I want to chuck my draft out the window. The only way to improve as a writer is to keep practicing. You’ve got to work hard so a reader closes the book feeling that their time was well spent.

These are things I tell myself when I’m stuck in a rut. Since I’m young, I know there’ll be more of these pep talks to come, and I’ll share them.

I know you have a story to tell, so keep going. Anyone can write; however, to be a good writer you need patience and discipline. Patience because it can be years before you finish, and discipline because it’s hard. If you love your story enough, you’ll find it worth the effort.

Tell that story like only you can.

P.S. I’ll be coming back to this blog post often. I’m human and need reminders of these things as well.

The Book Creators – for those who thrive on literature


Calling all bookworms!

The Book Creators hope to provide engaging posts for bibliophiles in all stages of their passion. Published or unpublished, reader or writer, our aim is to be a home for those who can’t live without a book in their backpack (or maybe two.)

We have gathered from all over the world with different backgrounds and genres, hoping to prove the love of books takes on many forms. Here, we’ll help you find the perfect book—or guide you in the process of writing one.

Click here to visit!

Sometimes it’s easy to look at the online reading community and divide readers from writers. What I’ve found over the years is that not all readers write and many writers don’t read every popular book around. What we do have in common is a passionate love for the literary world, the ability to get lost in a book. Libraries are beautiful places for us; paragraphs are exciting.

We don’t read the same genres or enjoy the same authors. I’ve met avid readers who don’t like J.K. Rowling–which seems absurd to most of us, but they offer real insight on why they prefer obscure novels to Harry Potter.

We at The Book Creators hope to prove words have power, and it never fades. No matter how old you are or what you read, whether you write or collect books on a shelf, we have something in common. We share a lifestyle that takes us back in time, shedding light on the darkest situations, providing us with an escape.

We’ve shared adventures in imaginary worlds we found within the pages of books.

Let me invite you to this new project.  It’s a gathering for those who can’t seem call one place home because there are so many books we haven’t read yet. Why settle when we can go anywhere in time and space? We can meet anyone and be anything.

This blog is for those of us who’d rather be in the pages of a book, and I can’t wait to help you find the perfect book–or write it. My first post went live today–Resources for Outlining Stories.

Heather Says:


I have a beta reader named Heather. (Who had an epic summer and went to Spain. Visit her blog here!)

There should be more beta readers like her in the world. I’m so lucky that she’s agreed to read through my manuscript three times, and is willing to do a fourth.

Also I’m really glad she likes the book, too, which means she’s able to appreciate the characters almost as much as I do.

Usually what happens is I send her my book as a PDF file, and she’ll color-code her comments. Recently I’ve sent it as a .doc so she can kill any typos she finds (because chances are I won’t find them) and she still leaves hilarious comments. It makes editing so much fun.

This is a blog post to brag about my beta reader, and it should have come way sooner. Thanks, Heather! <3

Ignore things that need editing in these screenies–sometimes I don’t necessarily follow suggestions at once…

At the top of every page is this guide that’s helped me with the color-coded comments:

Screenshot 2014-07-31 03.51.18

This is one of my favorites:

Screenshot 2014-07-31 03.49.44

(The yellow part. I laughed until I cried with that one.)

This is hard. I have to skip so many quotes I really want to share because of major spoilers.

Screenshot 2014-07-31 03.57.58

And she raises points I might not have thought of while writing:

Screenshot 2014-08-01 06.20.57

(in case you’re wondering, no, he isn’t drunk and driving! :D)

Writing is a really hard job. You need great friends to keep you going, and believe me, I would not have made it this far if it weren’t for her. It started out as an emergency HELP I NEED CRITIQUE ON 5 CHAPTERS thing. And those five chapters became a huge project.

If it weren’t for friends like her, I’d have gone back to rewriting an eleventh time. Sometimes you just need guidance.

I’ll leave you with this gem–

Screenshot 2014-08-01 06.27.51

I really wish I could share all of them. Oh well.

THANKS, HEATHER! :)

meeting Faith


Yesterday I met Faith, a lovely fellow blogger who has been my pen pal for years. I have a drawer full of snail mail letters, and we’ve known each other for a long time, but even though we live in the same state–we’d never met before!

We went to a Starbucks at the grocery store and talked about things that it usually takes a writer to understand. I think the person at the table next to us was giving us strange looks. Editing was a dominant topic, then bad books and Rick Riordan, and I think we talked about characters cussing and hair dying…it was epic and totally random.

Every time I meet a friend who’s also a writer, I notice how different we are. We see the world in a deeper way; those doors to the unknown? We’ll go to all lengths to open them.

I appreciate my other friends who don’t write as well, but…it’s just different. They wouldn’t care about a lot of this stuff. They’d probably get bored hearing me go into a rant about my novel. Which is okay–when I say rant, I mean it. I can go on and on, then feel bad because I’m doing all the talking and the listener is too nice to admit I’m boring them.

If you can sit down, listen, and actually be interested–then you’re just awesome.

It’s a blessing to be able to meet all these people. I definitely have some of the greatest friends!