Sunday, January 29, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 13: Seek Feedback

Experienced writers are confident enough to seek feedback on their latest drafts. They might go to an established author, a first-rate editor, an accomplished storyteller, or even an avid reader of their genre to get an idea of whether they are hitting the right notes. 

Those who see such an approach as a lack of confidence had better look again. It takes self-aware writers to know that they may see their story in an entirely different way from their potential readers. They need a reality check, no matter how well they think they can turn a phrase or spin a yarn. Too bad more presidents, CEOs, school principals, and teachers don;t think like that.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 12: Submit

Writers do not like rejection, but this does not mean they fear it. Of course, they wish their manuscripts are accepted by the first publisher they submit to. But they are realistic, realizing unsolicited manuscripts are more often rejected than accepted.

Publishers may turn down a well-written manuscript for numerous reasons. For one, the timing may be bad, as the manuscript covers an issue the publisher had explored in detail recently. Another reason could be audience: the publisher reject manuscripts they like because they know the topic would not appeal to their readers. Membership could be another factor, as some sources publish only the work of their paid members. Politics also can be a factor. The publisher likes the article or book but it doesn't align with their organizational philosophy. Among many other considerations can be the writer's literary reputation, subject-matter credibility, relationship with the publisher, writing style, content depth, and narrative structure.

To professional writers, these reasons are just excuses pseudo-writers use to give up. Rejection is a part of the job. Get on board with it, improve your manuscript, and resubmit it elsewhere. But always be submitting.   

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 11: Push

In the countless of interviews of successful authors I have read and heard, not once has an interviewee said, "I am satisfied with what I have written." The objective is to write, not to finish once and for all. Once they have completed the piece, they move on to the next one. Writers write; that's what they do.

Writers see themselves in a state of development, continuously sharpening their craft by reading, writing, editing, learning, experiencing. They likely take great pleasure in completing a literary work, but the reward for them is more work. Writing is not something that they one day hope to retire from. Indeed, it is their essence, so they just keep pushing along. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 10: Travel

Writers do not sit still. They are on the move. But they do not necessarily take expensive vacations. Their trips may be to the dry cleaner, the bank, or the grocery store, yet they are observing how the 60-year-old Vietnamese dry cleaner seems extra pushy in talking to her 30-year-old daughter working the register, or how the 20-year-old, shy bank teller pays extra attention to the pretty, young female customer who simply wants to complete a routine transaction, or how the Salvadoran teenage girl stocking the produce at the bodega has made remarkable strides in learning English over the summer. 

True, writers live in their minds when at their writing chair, but they travel a lot too. They always seek something new wherever they go in the hope of finding the best line to complete a difficult poem or the quirkiest dialogue to enliven a character in a play or a novel.

If you're a beginning writer, get up now. Travel. To another coast. To a new street. To a different room. Pay close attention in your travels. See what you find there. You'll surely put what you find there to use.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 9: Imagine

Without imagination, writers are worthless. Imagination is their lifeblood. They do not take story endings at face value; they create alternate climaxes, devise different decisions, and realize contrasting resolutions to conceptualize new narrative paths. They are not happy with the "perfect" sentence. They rewrite even the favorite ones they've read or written to shape other realities.

The next time you read a sentence so good it gives you the chills, try rewriting it. Who knows what will come up. Maybe the beginning of a new story.