…and now it’s time for another nap!
I’ve known I would be a writer since I was in first grade. My teacher asked us to write three double-spaced pages about a class trip to the moon, and I wrote 10 single-spaced pages (which may be why she always hated me, I hadn’t quite mastered pronoun use at that stage of my life). I wrote “novels” until I was in high school, and then the more reading I did the better my writing got. My high school English teacher praised my writing and encouraged me to keep going, and I continue to improve now.
Writing isn’t easy, and it isn’t supposed to be. If it was, everyone could do it. Writing is a skill like anything else. You don’t expect to be good at basketball the first try or for everyone to be able to swim like an Olympian, so why does everyone seem to think that if you want to write, you can?
I’m not saying that writing should be exclusive. If you want to write, go crazy. Enjoy yourself. However, know that you might not be good enough to get published. I love soccer, but I knew I wasn’t good enough to play for college (and I was only good enough for high school because we had a no cut policy and we were constantly in need of players) so now I can only play for fun. It doesn’t bother me, because I don’t need validation as a soccer player. I know I’ll never be one of the best, but that doesn’t stop myself from enjoying the game when I play.
One of the problem with self-publishing is that it’s so easy that everyone thinks they can become an author. They devalue writing with that kind of attitude. If you like writing, that’s great. Write all you like and take criticism gracefully to allow yourself to improve, but until you honestly believe that you’re a good writer and other people agree, don’t self-publish. You would profit much more from posting your writing on a free site for people to offer helpful critiques, rather than making unsuspecting readers buy a piece of work that should have never been published and making them angry over wasting that money.
I worked in the writing center of my school and let me tell you, I saw some terrible papers. One, of them was, written. Like this. And when, I asked the, girl. Why she, was using. Unnecessary. Punctuation. She said. “I didn’t know sentences could be that long.” Another person’s phrasing was absolutely terrible, and some guy’s paper was so boring and tedious it made my eyes bleed to revise it. These people knew they were bad writers, but there are some people out there who write just as bad but want to be a writer, so they convince themselves that they’re good and that other people are wrong.
Someone asked for feedback on their book, saying that it had been rejected a bunch of times and wanted to know if it was them or the publishers. I read it, couldn’t bare to finish it, and gave her my notes on what was wrong (which was a lot of things, from characterization to plot to grammar to being unrealistic). She ignored me, bashed me for being rude, and then went on to self-publish. Do you think that that book will help the author? She’s not going to make any money on a bad book, and she’s not going to improve in her writing when the reviews will say “don’t buy this book” rather than “maybe if the characters showed some sympathy in chapter five” or “the plot needs to be wrapped up better at the end.”
Now, the title of this is a little misleading. If you like writing, I’m not telling you to stop. However, I want every self-published novel I read to be just as good as the traditionally published novels. I want the stigma of self-publishing to go away. The stigma is there because of the people who think writing is for everyone. I want everyone who self-publishes an amazing novel to be able to get the pubic to read that novel, but they can’t do that if those readers first find a terrible self-published book and now won’t touch them.
This post isn’t just criticizing bad writers, it’s just some tough love. Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that you were a terrible singer before you went on American Idol? (Although, some of those people don’t graciously accept Simon’s decision when they’re told that they’re terrible, just like some people don’t accept that they’re bad writers when they’re told.) A general rule of thumb should be that if you can’t find at least two unbiased non-friends and non-family members who themselves are writers that say you’re a good writer, you probably need to keep practicing.
Writing is a gift, just like musical talent or athletic skills. We need to keep treating it as something special, not as something everyone can do.
I can’t quit my day job because I have student loans to repay. I’ll keep writing anyway.
I have one friend who thinks I’m going to sell millions of copies of my books (unrealistic) but basically everyone else just says “meh” when I say I’ve already published one book. I’ll keep writing anyway.
The attitude today seems to be that anyone can write a novel. Oh well. I’ll keep writing anyway.
I’ve only reached a handful of people with my blog, and even fewer with my book. I’ll keep writing anyway.
I might not be the next big hit, or even a hidden gem among writers. I might just be average. I’ll keep writing anyway.
My books aren’t some literary explosion of genius, they’re just meant to entertain. I’ll keep writing anyway!
There’s no daily reward for my work. I don’t save lives or change people’s outlook on life. Each word can sometimes be a struggle, and I don’t see the fruits of my labor until months after I write that first word. I’ll keep writing anyway!
I don’t have a writing nook. I don’t have scheduled writing hours that I can write. I don’t have a ritual, I don’t have time to write some days, and sometimes I feel like the real world has sucked out all of my writing energy. I’ll keep writing anyway!
My professors are not amused. Too biased. Too personal. Try to be serious. I’ll keep writing anyway!
I can’t write everything I want without giving up my real life. I’ll keep writing anyway!
I need to keep my apartment clean and make time for my boyfriend. I can’t skip showering to write, and I need to eat at some point. Sleep, too. I’ll keep writing anyway!
Life will go on. I’ll keep writing anyway!
Alright, now that November is over I need to actually finish my novel still. It doesn’t even seem half done, so there is going to be a lot of work and then a LOT of editing to do. Here is my to-do list:
So yeah, I’m going to be trying to get a lot done over the holidays. The hardest part about writing is wanting to write all the ideas at once.
Alright, this is the final installment in the NaNoWriMo for newbies. I’ve been scanning the forums for tips and tricks to reach 50,000 words, and I’ve picked out the best ones, not that I don’t have my own tips to share.
Don’t despair at the quality of your writing. Critics points out that NaNoWriMo does nothing but force writers to churn out shit that will never make it to the final draft, but that isn’t true. NaNoWriMo forces me to write when I would rather sit and watch TV or avoid writing a difficult scene. I have to keep thinking about how the story progresses, and I have to finish it (or get within the last few chapters). Once it’s done, I have all the scenes and character development, or lack thereof. I can see what the story needs and start editing it to make it actually readable. It’s worth the stress just to be able to make it that far.
Don’t edit. At all. Unless it’s going to add to your word count. Decide that you want to change your MC’s uncle’s name? Don’t go back, just make a note of it and keep writing. Decide that you want to hint at a hidden door in your FMC’s walk-in closet? Go ahead and add a paragraph about it in chapter two, then come right back to the end point and keep writing. Typos and grammatical errors will be easy to catch when reading back through, you don’t have to worry about it. It’ll be fine.
Don’t be afraid to jump around. Write the last scene, then the sex scene that will happen later. Go back to the fourth chapter then write an awesome scene that still needs some sort of connecting to your current point. As long as you remember the order, you’ll be fine. (I do everything old school and just sit down and write in a Word doc. If I’m writing ahead in time, I just insert a page break and write it so that it’s at the end of the document whenever I need to put it into the actual timeline.)
Make a playlist that motivates you. Try an inspiration folder (but only when you’re caught up on your word counts!) Give yourself treats for reaching your word goals. I know that week two is the worst, and that it’s hard to get through the period of not-beginning and not-ending, but push through. Write whatever crap comes to mind. It might turn out to be gold, or it’ll serve as a good starting block for a real scene.
Dirty Tricks: Give your character two names, like Mary Jane. Use long chapter titles. Add in blog posts about your writing. Give your character a very long title that he insists on being referred to as, like The Mother of Dragons, The Unburnt, Breaker of Chains, and so on. Have a babbling character who speaks about really mundane things. Do not use contractions. Use all five senses to describe things, even if it’s just to say that your character heard nothing interesting.
Good luck to all of you! If you’re behind on your word count, use the weekend to get ahead. Feel free to share any problems you’re having with your novel. I’m really struggling just to keep thing interesting when not much is happening, but I will push on! I’m having foot surgery over winter break, so I’ll have lots of free time for editing.
That’s right. At the beginning of the week, I finished the first draft of Only in Whispers. It was amazing, it ended with scenes I never envisioned, and it made me realize how far my characters had come. It’s weird to not feel pressured to write constantly anymore, and whenever I’m on Facebook I think, “Shouldn’t I be writing?” before realizing that until November, I’m taking a write holiday. So weird.
Not only that, but I got my first royalty from CreateSpace for Kiss of the Fey! This is only my paperback sales since I accidentally published my eBook with a different email (so that it isn’t linked to CreateSpace), so that’ll be another $5 whenever they release that. I’m a published, paid author! And that’s enough for pizza!
Now that you’re all updated on my life, we can continue with the list.
So a while ago, back when I used FictionPress a lot, I was approached by a vanity press who wanted to work with me. To make things simple, here was our conversation.
Alexis being the Vanity Press, clearly.
And I am the majestic blue-footed booby.
I looked her shit up, thought no thank you, then decided to fuck with them.
They never emailed me back about using my editing services 😦 Granted, I have never ever used that email address and I don’t know if it fuctions or not, but hey. The reviews DID say it needed editing.
But yeah, my research led me to believe that they were not to be trusted.
Also, anytime a profile has no activity then updates or is created right before messaging you is 100% shady.
However, I ignored it until I was going back through my old messages finding people who had been interested in Kiss of The Fey when I found this message, and I when I started to look up their information for putting together this post….
And poor Lisa Alfonso is gone as well!
Her author page is still up and someone mentioned that they couldn’t wait for the sequel, and the author replied “It’ll be out in March!” back in 2012. Someone came along in 2014 and said “I’m guessing that wasn’t March 2013 that it was coming out.”
Assuming that Lisa was a real person, not just part of the Vanity Press, I feel bad for her. It seemed like she had a really good story and she was doomed when a Vanity Press took her book, didn’t edit it so that it would actually sell, and then vanished and left her high and dry. All she can do now is self-publish since publishers only want first rights. But Believe might still be under a legally binding contract with the Vanity Press, even though it’s no longer for sale on Amazon. She just can’t sell the second book and have the first one be unavailable, so what is she to do?
The moral of the story is, NEVER trust a Vanity Press. If they try to make YOU pay to publish your book, it is not a real publisher. This is the internet. Trust no one. Always do your research!
Step Two: Erm…. your story isn’t looking so great. You’ve written it, but it seems a little bare. You rushed some and forgot some stuff. Maybe rewrite everything up until chapter ten, and get rid of all those boring scenes about your MC making toast. Add some more action and make sure your characters shine with personality.
Step Three: Okay, so far so good. You’ve got a story. It makes sense. There are people who would be okay with reading it…. but why not keep editing? Give it all you’ve got! You know there are still typos in there and things that might not make that much sense. Don’t whine about it, just edit some more.
Step Four: Great job! Look at that shiny new story your have! It’s all edited and perfect! You’re sick to death of reading it, but it’s okay, because you’re done! Or… are you? Maybe take another look at it. Is this really what you want your story to be? Are your characters too perfect, do they never swear or sweat? Is it a teenage drama with no mention of a pimple where all the girls are smoking hot? Maybe you should do one more read through and see if there is anything you’d change.
**I own none of these pictures.
I plan to write more this summer than I normally do. I know I’ll have enough time to do it, so it’s just a matter of setting goals. I went ahead and made a spreadsheet that can help me as Nano does with keeping track of my word count. It looks a bit like this.
Color-coded by month, because I’m a boss. If anyone would like to use this tool, you can download it here. I’ve used that site before and it’s safe. My document won’t give you any viruses, it’s just an excel file (it should be able to open with both Word and Open Office).
You can customize it as you’d like, delete May or August or get rid of the colors, but I already have all the formulas in there so that you don’t have to calculate a thing. Instructions are included in the file, but if you have any questions about anything feel free to ask!
I just think tools that let you see everything like that can be really useful. I want to see if anyone would like to write with my this summer. Nothing intense, nothing nearly as frantic as NaNoWriMo. My personal word goals are 10,000 for both May and July, then 20,000 during June and August. Obviously I won’t write every day, but I’m hoping to keep myself writing at least every week.
So if you’ve like to join me, leave a comment here! If enough people join up (you can write as much as you want, set your goal for 5,000 words a month if you want) then I’ll post each month to tell everyone how I’m doing and ask everyone else to report on their current status. I think it’ll be a fun way to meet some more bloggers and get to know them!
The project I’ll be working on primarily is A Game of Madness. If I finish I’ll just start my other project that was abandoned from trying to write too much at once. I don’t think I’ll get past A Game of Madness, though.
Title: The Actual Real Reality of Jennifer James
Author: Gillian Shields
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
“This is the diary of Jennifer James.
One Heroine: Jennifer James, burdened by brains, struggling to release her Inner Babe
One High School: London Road Comprehensive, a no-hope English school in a no-hope English town
One Prize: A scholarship to the elite St. Willibald’s College [Jennifer’s idea of Paradise] offered to the winner of a tacky reality TV show, Down The Bog
and . . .
A Thousand Complications: Like Jocasta, the crazy feminist mother; Tallulah, the blond rival from hell; Marcus, the guy with green eyes; and above all, the actual real reality that Jennifer’s chances of winning are less than Mega-Zero.”
So basically, there’s this little nobody girl whose school is put onto a reality TV show. Nobody Girl gets to be one of the students on the reality show and so cameras follow her around at school and she has the chance to win a completely paid scholarship to some rich kid boarding school. Nobody Girl struggles in the competition because she is, essentially, a nobody, but with some help she pulls through and makes it to the end of the competition. Drama, silly names, and even more teenage drama will accompany Nobody Girl as she fights for the prize.
Jeers (possible spoilers):
Would I recommend it?:
Only if you could borrow it or buy it cheap. It isn’t high-quality reading, just something to pass the time that you don’t have to think about it. It wasn’t super bad, but it didn’t stand out at all. Overall, it was a novel with an interesting (though unrealistic) premise and a meh execution.