Novel Rocket: Tools for the Journey

Friday, January 04, 2013

Tools for the Journey


Being a writer is tough—rewarding—but tough. After a particularly difficult rejection (and aren’t they all) my husband held me while I sobbed, and he had this to say, “Why couldn’t you have wanted to be something easy, like a movie star?”

His tongue in cheek remark had a good bit of the truth in it. And truly, if you can get by without writing you probably should. For the rest of us, this journey requires some coping skills. Many are acquired along the path, but some you can stock up on in advance. 
  • Patience. I know, but I had to start with this one. Success is rarely an overnight occurrence. My long-time crit partner, Vonda Skelton will be happy to point this out. She’s fond of reminding anyone who asks that it only took me 11 years to become an overnight success.
  • Thick Skin. Again, not something we want to think about. For me, no matter how hard I try to develop a tough outer layer, it only seems to come with scar tissue. Rejection and criticism hurt. But if you dig through the muck, the pain can propel you to success
  • A Sense of the Ridiculous. A lot of people will say you need a sense of humor, but I think it goes beyond that. Yes, it’s the ability to laugh at yourself, and at situations. But it’s also the gift of seeing past the frustration into the deeper issues. For example, today I ran into an incredibly frustrating situation with insurance. After I quit throwing things and crying, I used my sense of frustration to bring a deeper level of emotion to my characters in my WIP (that’s Work In Progress for those newbies out there).
  • Dissatisfaction with Your Current Level of Expertise. When I started out, I thought I knew a great deal about writing. That in itself was proof I was a raw beginner. To this day, every single exceptional writer I know, has told me how much they have yet to learn about the craft of writing. If they still have something to learn, I guarantee you the rest of us do too.
  • A Writing Tribe. Writing is a lonely endeavor. Without those who understand what we’re experiencing, it can be impossible to succeed. I don’t care if your team is a weekly critique group, an online set of friends, or a single partner. We desperately need the perspective of some who knows the path of a writer and wants to help us succeed. 
Now it’s your turn. What tools have helped you along the writing path? Don’t be afraid to share, we’re all better when we stand together.


Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media coach for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter and Facebook.

3 comments :

  1. I'm finding that having a solid grip on my own methods and processes is so important. With all the advice available to writers, we need the discernment to put on only what fits, because there are plenty of good ideas out there that just aren't one-size-fits-all. For basics like researching, organizing, and outlining (or not), we all need to find our methods that work, try something new now and then, but not marry an approach that overwhelms, frustrates or impedes. For example, my WIP doesn't have a playlist because I needed quiet to write it, and it does have plenty of scribbles because revisions happen in longhand first. :)

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  2. I've read pretty much book and magazine article out there on the craft of writing, and I've learned from all of them. Brandy is right--there's no one size fits all in matters of method and process. Having people to talk to who understand the struggles of trying to write (especially trying to write a first novel) is invaluable.

    Laura

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  3. Writing blogs, books, conferences have all been valuable in helping me improve my writing. Having a piece personally critiqued was more valuable than I could have imagined. It wasn't fun, but I wouldn't give it back for anything. A professional writer's input cannot be replaced.

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