It’s Okay To Be Scared

I have some exciting news! I gave my book to someone for feedback. Before her, only my family and three of my closest friends had ever seen it. I have been working on the series for two years and have written three drafts of the first book. It had gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure how much more I could do without an outside opinion. So it basically came down to two options for me and the book: Let someone critique it or drop the project. And after two years I had become far too attached to the series to just give it up. So I decided to let someone read it. And I think the decision is going to better my book by leaps and bounds. It’s only been three days, and the amount of critique I’ve gotten already is way more than anyone has ever given me previously and it’s opened my eyes to a lot of mistakes that I hadn’t noticed before.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is to not let your fears get in the way of progress. Even if it’s just a couple baby steps at a time, keep moving forward. There was a point in time where I couldn’t even share a vague sentence from my book without panicking. But very slowly, I’ve been able to overcome my fears. I know I still have a long way to go, and that it’s taken me three years to get to this point but I did get here. And so can you. Just take it one step at a time. And remember, it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to stumble. Just don’t let fear stop you from doing what you love most. Take a deep breath, get back up, and keep pushing through. 🙂

My Writing Journey- What I’m Working On/Thoughts Going Forward

Since I really do want to have writing as my job in the future, I figured I’d start a section dedicated to my journey and where I am. Hope you enjoy following me on my writing journey!

Two years ago, I started a trilogy of young adult, dystopian sci-fi books for NaNoWriMo 2014. Since then, I have been working on the trilogy and last year, on November 1st, I finished it. After giving it some time to rest while I worked on other projects, I am now returning to it for revisions.

The first book in the series is 159 pages long, and contains 79,874 words. It’s probably a bit on the short side but I’m trying not to worry about that right now. I can always make it longer if I need to.

After about a month of lazy editing, (the intense work begins at Camp NaNoWriMo next month, so I’m giving myself some leeway this month), I have hit page 30 out of 159 on my manuscript. I have deleted one character completely, removed another from the beginning, deleted multiple scenes and added a few as well. 30 pages has turned into 26, and I’m much happier with the story and the way it’s written. I feel like, slowly, it’s becoming the book I had intended it to be.

Editing is by far, not my favorite part of the writing process. I personally love writing the first draft. I love it’s creative freedom and the leniency it gives me to write something terrible and know it’s okay because everyone’s first drafts are terrible. But when I get to editing, I often feel boxed up and stifled. There is no leniency anymore, no more freedom. Suddenly, everything has to be good. Everything has to be perfect. You can no longer just throw a bunch of words on the page and call it okay, you have to meticulously organize them. And that’s what I hate about editing. BUT…

I did come up with a new way of editing that is making it a little more bearable. I created a completely new, empty document, and split my computer screen between that and the doc with my manuscript. Now, looking back and forth, I’m able to completely rewrite the entire story onto a new document, which makes it feel kind of like I’m writing a new story, even though I’m not.

It also makes it easier to change already existing things using this method (in my opinion anyway). For example, when I deleted my character, instead of having to find every scene she was mentioned in and remove her from it, I simply have to remember that she’s no longer in it and not include her. I no longer have to find things, I just have to write. It makes things so much easier.

But here come the thing that’s bothering me most right now. Not the editing, not the stifling perfectionism that comes with it, but the thought of what comes after. Once the second draft is done, the story won’t be able to grow without other people’s opinions and I’ll have to get beta-readers which, as a protective writer, is quite frankly terrifying.

And then after beta-readers comes something maybe slightly scarier. Querying.

And IF I’m lucky enough to get an agent, and when that agent then shops my manuscript around to publishing companies, and then IF a publishing company picks it up and offers me a deal, and IF I actually get published, my book will be out there in the world for ANYONE to see! Which ultimately is the goal and excites me more than anything, but… it also terrifies me.

All in all I guess, writing this second draft seems like the beginning of a very long process of scary new things. I’m committing myself to this project in a way that I’ve never committed to a project before (except my very first book but I’m not sure that counts because I was only a baby writer at the time).

I know I have an amazing family and group of friends who will rally around me and support me through every last second of it but still… it scares me.

So I’m trying to take this all one step at a time. Right now, all I need to focus on is finishing the second draft.  And I’m trying my hardest. I set myself a deadline of July 31st and I plan to be done by then.

And when the time comes, I will think about beta-readers and then after that querying, getting an agent, and then publishing. And can we please not even think about a movie deal? *faints*

Most of that stuff is pretty far into the future, if it ever happens at all, so I’m going to try not to worry about it now. If I’ve learned anything about writing recently it’s that it’s one big waiting game. And I just need to take it one step at a time. So that’s what I’m going to do. 🙂

Editing: Tips and Advice

Well, NaNoWrimo is officially over. Not only did I complete my word count goal at 80,856 words, I  also finished the novel. Yes, it was hard, yes, it was tiring, (one night I stayed up until midnight) and yes, it was worth it (I think). But seriously, let’s be real here. No one, except really passionate (and slightly crazy people) would attempt to write this much in a month. So, if you achieved this insane goal, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it! Also, let me know in the comments how you did!

Okay, so now that NaNoWrimo is officially over, you know what that means. Editing. Endless hours of making your project better! Some people think editing is boring or difficult. Some people like it better than actually writing the book. I am here to tell you my stance on editing and give you some tips to help tackle this daunting task.

I kind of enjoy editing. It means that I get to share my work with other people and get constructive feedback on it. I very much enjoy this. Also, I don’t have to plot or decide what happens next. I just have to make what already happened better! So, without further adieu, on to the editing tips!

Tip number 1- Many people say to let your work sit for awhile. To take a break from it. I personally don’t do this very often but it seems to help a lot of other people, so if this is your style, go for it!

Tip number 2- Don’t delete huge scenes. I know, I know “That’s what the editing process is for!” you say. But don’t do it. Instead, copy and paste the large sections you want to take out to a different file. This way it is out of your manuscript but if you decide that what you wrote to replace it isn’t working, you can just paste it back. This way if you change your mind you will not have lost all that work!

Tip number 3- Research. Make sure the things that happen make sense. You know that big scene you wrote where the main character got stabbed? Is he bleeding to death? Research it to make sure your character could really loose that much blood and survive. Make sure it feels real.

Tip number 4- Make sure your writing stays in the same voice and tense the whole time. Sometimes, writers can make the mistake of slipping through the second person to the third person or past tense to present tense in the same story. Make sure this doesn’t happen!

Tip number 5- Be ruthless. Make every sentence fight for it’s place on your page. If something doesn’t need to be said, don’t say it. Maybe even take out characters. In the past, I’ve had to delete a really good character in the editing process. It hurts. A lot. But it has to be done.

Tip number 6- Have fun. Remember, if you’re not having fun writing the book, chances are, the readers won’t have fun reading it either.

Tip number 7-  Read it out loud to yourself. This will give you the chance to hear how the sentences fit together. What flows and what doesn’t, where the incomplete sentences are, and when you have too many words describing that flower vase in the corner.  Maybe your characters are speaking in too many incomplete sentences. Maybe you’ve over used the word ‘said’ (even though you shouldn’t under use it either).

Tip number 8- Look at character development. I was my editing my NaNoWrimo novel and I realized that one of my characters was acting way different than she was in the beginning. And I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Just make sure the character development makes sense and stays true to the character while they are being molded.

Tip number 9- If you don’t have a title yet, now is as good a time as any to find one! Think about what your book is about and try to emulate that in the title. Look to things your characters said, sentences in your novel, or an idea in it, for title possibilities. For instance, in both of my completed novels, the titles have come from things the character said. The title should also in some way reflect the ideas, concepts, and/or basic plot of the book. The reader should be able to pick it up and have a vague idea of what it is going to be about based on the title.

Tip number 10- Have fun! Don’t let the editing process drag you down. You can do this! I believe in you. And at the end of this you will have a clean, new book to do what you want with, whether it be sending it off to the publishers, or setting it on your bookshelf to be read only by you and a few of your closest friends and family. Whatever happens after, you will have the pride of knowing you completed a book. Your very own novel.