Why You Should Rewrite and Not Edit

Congratulations. You’ve just finished a novel. You’ve taken some time to decompress and relax, away from the world of writing, but now you need to dive in and start getting your piece ready for publication.

The first edit. That’s a term I’ve mentioned before, even written a whole post about it. Though looking back on the process I went through then, I should have probably titled that blog post The First Rewrite. Because when it comes down to it, that’s what it really was.

There’s a difference between an edit and a rewrite, and I don’t know if everyone always remembers that. Editing is a broad term meant for modifying, correcting and condensing written material in preparation for publication (at least, that’s what the Google definition gave me I just looked up). Rewriting is slightly different, more specific, I guess you could say. Google defines it as writing something again to alter or improve it. Similar to editing, but yet different.

For writers, we will eventually need to do both editing and rewriting before our manuscript will be publication ready. Most people assume that an edit is the first thing you should do upon finishing a first draft of a manuscript – I like to think differently.

To put it in other words, there’s a difference between polishing up something which is silver and polishing up something which is nickel. Though the nickel may still look nice once it’s all nice and shiny, it’s going to pale in comparison to the polished silver. The silver will hold up better over time, and is more valuable. This is the difference between doing an edit and a rewrite (or a series of rewrites) and THEN the edit. If you simply edit a piece, you’re only polishing up that piece of nickel, which won’t stand out amongst the rest of the field and won’t be a high quality. But, if you take your time and rewrite your manuscript before putting it out there in the publishing world, you’ll wind up with a piece resembling silver – something of value and good quality.

Analogy aside, rewrites really are an integral part of the writing process. Maybe it’s taken you a couple of years to finish your manuscript. Well, chances are your writing style has matured and changed in those couple of years since when you first began it. If you go through and do a rewrite, you can add that maturity to your piece and make it richer – make it better. Most writers don’t like doing rewrites because it takes so much time – and personally to me, it always feels like I’m completely scrapping the however many months of my life I dedicated to writing that draft. Yes, it does take time. And yes, it does feel like you’re throwing away months of good work, but it will also make your final product better. You can learn from your previous draft what worked and what didn’t work and use that knowledge to your advantage. You can stop yourself from making the same mistake again.

I want you to know that it’s not like I believe editing isn’t important – editing is EXTREMELY important to the whole writing process. I just think that edits should occur as a step after the rewriting has been completed.

So there you have it – a quick reason why I believe rewrites should be preferred to a simple edit while in the early stages of your manuscript preparation for publication. As always, if you have anything to add, please feel free to comment below.

Until next time.

How I Stay Organized With My Writing

One of the hardest things I find about being a writer is keeping my creative brain in check. It’s no secret that writer’s constantly have idea after idea after idea floating around inside their heads, along with a plethora of characters and settings to boot. Most of the time, I find writers are constantly juggling multiple projects at the same time. With this happening, keeping your writing organized can be a challenge. So how can you stay organized through all of the chaos surrounding the life of a writer? Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks on the matter, and I’m going to share some of them with you, in hopes that it can help you out too.

1) Creating a timeline: Use Aeon Timeline software to document every important/major scene in your writing project. Even use it for the minor scenes – they’re still relevant too! You’d be surprised how much easier planning and writing becomes once you have an up to date, working timeline.

2) Keep an idea notebook: It can be either be on your electronic device or a physical hard copy in a real notebook, but always have it around you to write down random ideas. They probably won’t all be used (some will never make it further than a partial idea in this notebook), but at least you have things written down somewhere that you can refer to later if need be.

3) Make character profiles: Do this for every character, no matter how big or small. Some can be as plain as the character’s name and a brief description of what they look like. Others can be a crazy amount of in-depth knowledge on likes and dislikes, preferences, physical description… you name it, it’s there. Just try to get down something for everyone. That way, when you’re working on your piece you have an easily accessible reference page that describes the character you really need to remember. You know, in those moments when you have no idea what they look like when you briefly mentioned again fifty pages earlier in your manuscript.

4) List of things to fix: This is a very important thing to do, though it can be quite a tedious task. Once you’ve written your piece, of course that’s where the editing and re-writing process begins. While doing a read through, if you keep track of things which need to be fixed or changed (obviously not something as simple as a spelling error or grammar mistake – I’m talking the big stuff like plot or character changes), write it down in a list. It’ll make things a whole lot easier when you go to start that rewrite (and trust me, you’ll have to go through at least a couple of those).

So there’s a couple of suggestions to help you stay organized in your writing. Hope they help, and if you have any others you find work well for you, feel free to add them in the comments section!

As usual, keep writing everyone!

Until next time.

Writing Distractions and How to Deal With Them

Writing distractions are the worst.

Given the fact that we’re in the midst of another session of Camp NaNoWriMo, a time when unwanted distractions are the absolute worst, I figured I’d give you all some suggestions to avoid these distractions and allow your mind to stay productive. I know I have issues keeping distractions at bay while I write – it’s a problem all writers continue to face throughout their writing careers. Hopefully with these tips and suggestions I’ve used in the past it can help you battle the constant nagging of writing distractions too.

Instrumental music: For most people, complete silence doesn’t help them concentrate fully. The quiet actually causes your mind to drift and get you off task. If this is you, you’re going to need some type of noise in the background. Music is a good thing to fill that emptiness. Try to choose some sort of instrumental music as your background noise. Lyrical music won’t help much – your brain will subconsciously try and interpret the words, distracting you from your writing.

Writing playlist: As a side note to my above point, a writing playlist is always something good to have stowed away in your iTunes account. Having a designated list of songs means you spend less time searching for music to listen to, and more time doing actual writing. For some people, myself included, I use one song and simply put it on repeat. And this is where I’m going to contradict what I’ve said above. The song I listen to, Let Me Go by Avril Lavigne, is lyrical. The reason why it doesn’t seem to distract me? Well I’ve listened to it so many times now my brain has no need to interpret the lyrics anymore. It’s incredible what repetition can do for a writer’s brain actually. The instant I hear this song, my fingers start itching for a pen or for my keyboard. I find that I just have to write. Now I don’t know if this will help for you as well, but it may be worth a shot.

Avoid technology: I know that technology has become inherently ingrained in society and almost everyone’s life, but if possible, try shutting off the world around you. For starters, leave your cell phone on silent and in another room. Yes, I realize that most writers use a computer to write their stories, but there are ways you can avoid using the distracting features on it. There are tons of programs and apps out there which can essentially make your computer minimalist, only offering you the few tools an author may need while writing while disabling everything else. If that’s too much for you, internet-blocking apps exist as well. Or, if you’re like me and don’t like tons of programs on my computer, you can simply turn off the WiFi, either by unplugging your router/modem or disabling it on your laptop.

Set a schedule: Most writers complain they never have enough time to write. Believe it or not, but that can actually be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, having too much time can be a problem and in turn, become a distraction. Without a deadline, writers can get complacent and let their writing go dormant. To solve this? Make a routine. Get up every morning and write five hundred words. Or do it in the evening. Or even tell yourself that it doesn’t matter when it gets done, but by the end of the day you have to have x-number of words written. Trust me, it helps. You’ll find that setting a deadline forces your brain to stop procrastinating and lets you get work done.

Now these are only a few tips and tricks of many that are out there for overcoming writing distractions. At the very least, I hope they help to open your mind and get you on your way to writing distraction-free. As always, if you have anything to add, please leave a comment below.

Keep writing everyone!

Until next time.

 

 

Why Pinterest May Be The Greatest Website For Writers: Part 2

A couple days ago, I posted an article on how the social media site Pinterest is extremely useful for writers and the visualization of characters, settings, clothing, etc. As a follow-up, I want to now get into the ways Pinterest can assist writers in a more general fashion. What do I mean by this? Things like writing prompts, suggestions, guidelines… you know, all that jazz.

Like many other writers out there, I’ve suffered from writer’s block. Well, one of the more recent ways I’ve discovered to help out with this issue is using Pinterest. Just simply search “Writing prompts” and you’ll receive hundreds of ideas to get you unstuck from whatever writing dilemma you’re currently facing. Sometimes it may be something entirely unrelated to what it is you’re working on – and that’s totally okay. Taking a break from your current project is sometimes exactly what you need to rejuvenate and recharge your writing batteries. Other times, you may actually find a writing prompt that works with whatever it is you’re writing. I’ve had both of these circumstances happen for me and they work just the same. They get me writing again, which is all that really matters.

Pinterest also has a ton of writing advice out there that authors and writers should really take advantage of. I’ve got a whole board of pins dedicated to writing tips and suggestions that I really do use when writing. Sometimes they can be as simple as a reminder on how to notice when you’re writing in a passive voice or active voice… or how to tell when a bilingual character has been written by a non-bilingual person. Other times, they can be far more detailed and explain different ways to include prologues into your writing. A lot of these tips are things you may not necessarily think of, or maybe it’s something that you didn’t know. Pinterest is wonderful for that reason – you get to read a wealth of information from experts in their own fields and then can save it to a board for later reference.

Using Pinterest for writing motivation is another way I find the social media site extremely helpful. Sometimes, when the writer’s block has hit and you just need a pick-me-up, motivational quotes are the way to go. Or maybe you’re someone who needs a list of other books that have been published in your genre as a means to spur you on. Pinterest can help with this. Having a board completely dedicated to motivation is sometimes exactly what a writer needs to get going and pick up that pen, or put their hands on those keys again.

Again, these are just a few different ways Pinterest can help an author out in a more general writing fashion. I know there are many authors out there that also use Pinterest for marketing purposes – but since I don’t have any experience in that particular area, I think I’ll leave that for someone else to explain.

If you have any more suggestions or ways you use Pinterest to help out with writing, please feel free to add it into the comments section below. Differing opinions and ideas are always welcome – in no way to I pretend to know all.

And as always, keep writing everyone! I hope you’re all gearing up for the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo!

Until next time.

 

Why Pinterest May Be The Greatest Website For Writers: Part 1

There are countless social media sites out on the internet, each of them offering us different means to share our thoughts and life with other people. For authors, social media can help us out in many different ways. Book promotion, connecting with fans, networking with other authors… and that’s just to name a few.

A little while ago I was introduced to a site called Pinterest by a fellow author and let me tell you, I will be forever grateful to her for it. In this post, along with another one I shall be putting up in a couple days, I hope to give you a few reasons why I believe Pinterest is so useful for authors. Right now, I’m going to focus on the private side of Pinterest, and what it can do for you and your specific writing.

Character depictions, settings, random quotes that mesh with your story… Pinterest is full of pictures and photos just waiting to bring out your creativity. And once I was shown all of these possibilities, I became hooked.

When I write, I’ve always found it rather difficult to conjure up an image of my characters in my mind. Vague ideas? Yes, that I can do, but full-fledged representation? No chance in hell. And I know that I’m not the only author who suffers from this problem. I’ve chatted with others who also find picturing characters difficult. It’s a problems that can have devastating effects on work in progress writing projects and wreak havoc. Sometimes, if it’s really bad, it can stunt my writing and cause a serious case of writer’s block.

This is where Pinterest works wonderfully. For example, let’s say you know your character is female, blonde, and has hazel eyes. Type that into the search bar on Pinterest, hit Enter, and voila! Dozens upon dozens of pictures of blonde females with hazel eyes for you to search through and find your character. Now, it’s not always that simple – sometimes Pinterest requires a little more keyword refinement or tweaking, but it’s there. Something physical and tangible that you can pin to a board and have for reference sake.

I also use Pinterest for fashion-related dilemmas in my writing as well. Recently, I was writing a scene where my high school-aged characters were attending their prom. Of course, when you write a prom scene you need to know what your characters are wearing. Since I have difficulties picturing things in such detail in my head,  I needed to find visual representations of everything. Hair, makeup, dresses, suits, ties, shoes… See? I’m not lying. Literally everything.

Pinterest made my life so much easier for this as well. I spend hours searching through its contents, pinning anything and everything I thought might possibly work for what I was looking for, and eventually ended up with pages of images to choose from and form my magical evening for my characters. And it helped. When I sat down the next time to work on that prom scene, I had a clear head to write. No barriers or questions arose about the visual and what everything looked like. All I had to worry about were the actual words being written down on the page.

As I’ve mentioned before, I write collaboratively with one of my friends for a series of short stories. Separately, we created a number of characters, each with a set description of the way they look, and since then, have thrown those characters into short stories together. Sometimes I will write a story involving her character, or she’ll write one involving mine. During these moments, descriptions can get rather challenging, since I am not the creator of her character, nor is she of mine. This is where Pinterest takes on yet another form of usefulness for us.

Pinterest has two types of boards: public and secret. Public boards are pretty self-explanatory I think. Secret boards are too – they can only be viewed by the creator of the board. Now Pinterest has a way that you can share a board with others and make them collaborators of it. This is what me and my writing friend do. Boards that involve characters we need for our collaborative project are shared between the both of us, and pins are added of physical representations of all things necessary for us to know. So with a couple of clicks of my mouse, I can have access to a picture of her main character, or the school that she goes to, or the outfit she was wearing for a particular scene of a short story. All of this information which is crucial for the continuity of our stories, I can see without having to bother my co-collaborator every single time I have a question. It makes writing so much easier, I can say that with entire confidence.

So there are just a few reasons why I think Pinterest is extremely useful for writers. Of course, this is only Part 1 of my reasonings – in the next few days I’ll post some more, this time focusing on the more public side of Pinterest and what it can do for writers in a more general fashion.

As always, keep writing everyone!

Until next time.

Why Short Stories Are Difficult To Write

I’ve never thought I was capable of writing short stories. Novels? No problem. Give me an idea and I can run with it for eighty-thousand words without hesitation. But ask me to tell a complete story arc from start to finish in five-thousand words or less? Never. Not a chance.

That’s how I’ve always believed things to be. And I never imagined I’ve have a differing perspective on the matter until just very recently. It occurred to me the other day that though yes, there are definitely technical differences between writing short stories and full length novels, it’s also very much a mental game with yourself. If you back yourself into a corner, only ever believing you’re capable of one or the other, you’ll never truly succeed at anything else. You’ll forevermore be uncomfortable with writing out of that space you’ve become extremely familiar with.

I’ve written short stories – good ones, in fact. I’ve been writing them for almost two whole years in a collaborative piece with my writing friend, Lyndsay. The only difference between those pieces and what I’ve always thought of as a traditional short story? The ones we’re writing require some previous knowledge from the respective books we’ve each written.

I guess it’s different when you’re working with characters who already have a background you’ve delved into – maybe it makes it easier. And in a way, there’s less work for you to do. Your reader already knows information about this character – yes, maybe there might be that odd person who hasn’t read your novel yet, but that’s what those quick pieces of background information you throw in there are for. So when you start that short story, you can focus on the plot, on where you’re taking the piece and how it’s going to end.

But of course, there are still some short story rules you should follow. I’ve learned a lot of these the hard way (which resulted in a lot of rewriting!).

  1. Make sure you limit the number of characters. Don’t have more than a couple of protagonists. Too many will clutter the story and take the focus away from the action going on in the plot!
  2. Time frames should remain quite short. In novels, it’s much easier to spread your story out over a series of months, but since the short story format is, well – short! – you need to keep the timeline reasonable to allow for events to feel important and carry the weight they deserve.
  3. Every word counts! This might be the most important thing to remember about short stories. You have a limited word count, so every single one should have meaning and be there for a reason. If you’re adding unnecessary fluff, take it out. Fluff is not needed.

With all this said and the rules laid out, it still doesn’t make writing a short story any easier. Yes, this might provide you with a bit of a guideline for what you should and shouldn’t do in short stories, but we’re writers. Let’s be honest, sometimes rules just have to be broken. Now please, don’t break all of them at the same time (and the three I gave are by far not the only rules – more like a couple of examples). But don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and bend the rules to fit whatever it is you’re writing about. After all, that’s what writing is all about, right?

Keep writing, everyone, and if you have any other short story tips, pass them along in the comments section.

Until next time.

Why Being a Writer is Like Riding a Rollercoaster

Being a writer is both the most exhilarating thing and the most terrifying. Writing is full of so many ups and downs that sometimes (more frequently than not) it’s hard to keep straight what’s going on in your emotion department. There’s nothing like finally putting the finishing touches on a manuscript and saying to yourself, “Hey, look at what I did. Look at what I created.” But, on the other hand, some of your lowest points can come as a writer too – like when you get a terrible review, or you’ve been rejected for the millionth time.

Writing is my passion, it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. And there’s nothing like that feeling when you realize someone else has enjoyed something you’ve written, and you’ve maybe even helped them figure something out. Positive comments, reviews, even someone offering to re-post or re-blog something you’ve worked on, all give off this euphoric sense and suddenly you’re on Cloud Nine. It feels like nothing will be able to tear you down from the high you have.

Until you receive a nasty comment from someone on the internet. Or that person you’re catching up with scoffs at you when you inform them you’re a writer. Or a thousand other scenarios – if you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about.

So then you have to pick yourself up by the bootstraps, tell yourself that what you’re doing does have worth, and start over. Soon you find a new idea – a great idea – the idea that’s going to send you over the top. And you pour yourself into it over the next few months (or years, depending on how fast/slow of a writer you are). The plot, the characters, the setting – they all become a part of you. You feel as if you’ve given everything to this piece, every ounce of your soul. Suddenly, you’re on Cloud Nine again, with a finished piece and confidence booming.

I think you know what’s coming next. More rejections, more negativity, more self-doubt.

Does it feel like a roller coaster yet?

The key to this never-ending cycle is to find ways to keep bringing yourself back up. Pep-talks (from either yourself or people close to you), rewards, even just simply pausing to reflect and realize that not everyone in the world can do what you’ve just done. You’ve created something entirely from your mind. Yes, you may have borrowed little ideas here and there, but the words, they’ve come from you. No one can take that from you and don’t ever let anyone think that they can.

Even with all the bad that’s been thrown into the occupation, I still wouldn’t change a thing. To be writer is more important to me than most people understand. It allows for my brain to think up possibilities that wouldn’t normally exist, or walk in the shoes of someone I know I will never meet. Writing gives me the freedom to be who I want to be and not have to apologize for it. When I write, I have no boundaries.

People say that birds are the luckiest animals, because they have the ability to fly freely in the air and go wherever it is they want to go without limitations. Well when I put my pen to a piece of paper, or my fingers brush against the plastic of my keys, I feel like a bird.

So even though it’s like I’m constantly riding on the Leviathan roller coaster at Canada’s Wonderland, with moments where it feels like I’m hurtling towards the ground about to meet my demise, I’m prepared to stay on this ride for the remainder of my life. Because if that’s what it takes to be a writer, I’m there.

Until next time.