Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Being Prepared—as a Writer

Striped_Notepad_4710 (7)Sunday I was feeling less than prepared.

I’d been super-prepared all week—meeting every challenge that came my way…anticipating challenges in advance. But boy, I was sure dropping the ball all day Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, my son volunteered with other middle school kids at a car wash to raise money for camps for inner city children. Great cause! I brought him there, dropped him off, and took off home.

He ended up soaking wet in a chilly wind. I came back and brought him towels and a change of clothes. Left again and returned later to pick him up.

Took my daughter to another event Sunday afternoon. This one I actually thought a little bit about. “Sweetie,” I said, “it says ‘gross games and gross food’ on the invitation. You’re wearing really pretty clothes. Are you sure you don’t want to change?”

She didn’t. And I thought about bringing a change of clothes for her in the car (just in case), but we were running behind (and I’m never late), so we jumped in the car.

When we got there and she saw there were games involving spaghetti, shaving cream, and slime, she asked me for old clothes. I drove home, got the clothes, and came back again. Then left and came back again to pick her up.

When it was all said and done, I made 10 total trips up and down the same road on Sunday. It should only have been 6. Lots of wasted time because I didn’t think ahead.

It’s good to be prepared as a writer, too. It can keep us from getting too discouraged and quit something that we could end up being successful at. It can also keep us from wasting time on tangents.

Some areas to be prepared for:

Be prepared that new ideas that seem wonderful will strike right when you’re mucking through difficult terrain on your current manuscript. Jotting them down in a Word file for future reference can keep you from getting sidelined.

Be prepared that the siren song of the internet or the omnipresent smart phones will lure you away from your book. Closing all windows or writing on paper when you’re feeling especially susceptible can help.

Be prepared that there will be spots in your WIP when you’re not sure how you’ll move the story forward or make the character come alive. Brainstorming solutions or making lists of as many possibilities as you can dream up is a good way to handle it.

Be prepared for doubt because all writers have it (or they should have it). We all wonder variations on this theme: is this story any good? Will anyone want to read it? Will someone want to publish it or am I wasting my time? Is all this trouble worth it? During these times, it’s good to spend time with other writers…either online or in person…for support.

Be prepared for bits of dead time with paper and pencil.

Be prepared for the research and time that goes into querying—and the seemingly endless rejections. On the upside, there is tons of information out there on which agents are looking for what type of material, how to construct a query, and what to include in one.

Be prepared to have an online presence or platform if you’re planning on being either traditionally published or self-published.

Be prepared to promote and to think up new ways to reach your readers. Publishers put most of this responsibility on the writers. If you don’t enjoy appearances, you can opt for social media promo, instead.

Be prepared for good and bad reviews.

Be prepared to feel conflicted about different writing strategies, promo strategies, and publishing options.

What things have you discovered about writing that it’s good to be prepared for?


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