“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”–Mark Twain
It’s true. If you’re a writer, you’ve crossed out hundreds of words, and not just wrong ones. Good ones. Entire paragraphs that sounded genius when you wrote them. You whipped out the red pen, pressed the cut button, and let that big fish go back into the pond. If you haven’t yet, oh, you will. Sometimes it hurts, other times there’s a breath of relief. Now the story can move onward, unhindered. Once upon a time, I slew 30k from my manuscript. They suffocated the story, stumped potential. It’s a two-faced effort, really. We must be emotionally deep on the page one day, and edit with cold grit on the next. Because our stories need to be tamed, refined, and loved inside and out before we release it to our readers. Can you identify? Or do you still desire this path? Keep reading, author-friend.
- Write. Until you have words on paper, you can’t learn a thing. Get scribbling no matter how bad you think it sounds. Ideas will begin to flow.
- Read like crazy. From classics to modern mystery. Style and technique abound on the bookshelves. Crack one open and see how dialogue is handled. Check on chapter arcs, story arcs, descriptions. Start recording your favorite examples and apply to your work.
- Study the craft. You might think this needs to be first on the list, but unless you have material to work with, studying craft won’t get you very far. Snag some books on writing and take your time with each one.
- Get to a writer’s conference! Yes ma’am! Perfect place to begin your training, networking, and discovering just where God might be leading you on this journey. You’ll come away overloaded with information, but you’ll blossom with potential. I’ll list my favorites here: Write to Publish http://writetopublish.com , ACFW http://acfw.com , Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference http://writers.mounthermon.org , and Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference http://blueridgeconference.com
- As you study craft, it’s highly beneficial to find a quality freelance editor who knows the craft and business. Many authors offer this service and you may be able to connect with one at a conference. Don’t be shy to ask around. On- on-one mentoring is GOLDEN.
- You might consider serious training. Christian Writers Institute http://christianwritersinstitute.com , Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild http://jerrysguild.com , and author Jim Rubart’s Writing Academy http://rubartwritingacademy.com are some to consider. You’ll never regret the investment.
- Writer’s groups. If you can find one in your area, they can be a great encouragement and support. A word of caution: your best critique will come from professional authors and editors. A tip: When your writer’s group critiques your pages, take seriously similar remarks. It’s a straight arrow pointing to a real issue.
- Listen, learn, edit. And don’t forget to cover it all in prayer.
- When to try for publication? Soon. It’s good practice to plunk yourself down in front of an agent or editor at a conference and let humiliation wash over you in waves of–oh? They think you have potential? That’s because you do. Listen to them. They know what they’re doing. A little secret: They are just people too. Rejection merely routes you where you need to be.
- Wait, but don’t stop writing. It’s a long process most of the time. Don’t give up.