Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's a Process

Writing is a process. Depending on what you're writing, the process can be long or short. A process requires patience, endurance, focus, determination and fortitude. Once you have your book idea, whether you're writing a novel or your own personal memoir, the actual writing is a process. Preparing for the process is key to having the patience and endurance to see it through to the end. In order to prepare for the process, it helps to know and understand the process. 

The process has specific steps which include:

Prewriting

Drafting

Revising 

Editing

Prewriting = Anything you do before you actually write a draft of your project. This includes, but is not limited to:

Thinking
Getting the idea
Talking to others
Brainstorming
Taking notes
Outlining
Gathering information

All these things count toward the writing process. If you're thinking about writing a novel, you have already started the process! It starts with a thought. This part of the process is recursive. You will return to it again and again.

Drafting = Putting your ideas into sentences and paragraphs. Drafting involves three separate steps, listed below with their simple definitions:

Explaining - Getting your idea across by the use of clear, concise words.
Supporting - Giving your ideas merit.
Connecting - Connecting your ideas to get your point across.

Revising = Rewriting and updating your draft, to its completion. Revision is key to effective writing. During revision, keep these steps in mind:

Refine - often eliminating sentences, paragraphs or entire sections.
Clarify - Clarify each sentence so they flow together, giving the reader momentum.
Make concise - Concise thoughts get a point across more effectively than drawn-out thoughts.
Accuracy - Even if you're writing fiction, accuracy is important to making your story plausible. This applies to fantasy, as well.  Fantasy writers define their own facts, but they remain accurate to those definitions throughout their writings, making them plausible.

Editing = The process of preparing your work to properly convey the intended information. This involves:

Grammar
Spelling
Mechanics of how the work flows
More revision
The last thing you do

This is a very brief overview of the writing process. I hope it helps you focus in some way as you either work on or prepare to start your next writing project!

~Tricia

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Changing Plans

Sometimes the best laid plans get side-tracked. What's a writer to do when that happens?

Keep writing, of course!

My plans have been side-tracked this fall.  My original plan was to offer my regular Writing for Publication and E-Publishing classes through Community Education through the school districts in which I was already offering the classes, expand to an additional school district and also begin offering an online writing course. Also, my local Community Education Office had offered to give me a "Featured Instructor" page in their fall booklet, complete with a bio and an expansion on the success of my classes. This success, of course, started with Amanda Hocking and her launch into e-publishing.

But, this year, my plans were side-tracked. Instead of teaching my regular classes, we are moving, relocating to another part of the country.  Because our move is pending, I could not commit to any of my classes and had to turn down my local district's offer to be a "Featured Instructor."

So, as I advise all my writing students when hitting an obstacle, I kept writing!  And I kept networking.  And I met some new people.

And I'm excited to say that my writing classes have more opportunity than ever, even though I thought things were totally side-tracked.  Being side-tracked has opened up new opportunities!  I'm excited about the move and what it's bringing with it.

A few pointers if your writing goals get side-tracked:

Keep writing.
Nothing will derail your writing faster than not writing. Whether you publish during a time of transition or not, keep writing to stay fresh, remain in practice and be ready to go when you are in a position to move your writing forward when the dust settles on your situation.

Continue to set new goals for your writing.
Setting continual new goals for your writing is important at any time, but especially during times of transition, waiting and change. New goals keep you motivated, fresh and aware of the ever-changing writing and publishing world.

Treat your writing as serious business.
Even though I'm packing, still homeschooling my two youngest sons, driving three kids around to their various activities, and organizing for a major move, I still carve out time for my writing every single day.  It's a priority and my family understands and appreciates that, so they've learned to have respect for my need to write.  Because I take my writing seriously, so do they.

More on our move when things are solidified!
Happy writing through all life's transitions!
~Tricia




Monday, October 8, 2012

My Top 5 Blogging Tips

Lately as I've done a little blog hopping, I noticed a few things about some blogs that appeal to me and I noticed a few things that didn't appeal to me.  I've condensed my observations into five different tips which might improve your own blogging performance:


1. Be concise. Most people do not want to read a long, drawn-out story in a blog.  Blog readers are mostly looking for concise information they can gather quickly.

2. Use good grammar. This may seem obvious, but you might be surprised at how many people do not edit their blog posts before publishing.

3. Set links open in a new tab. It personally frustrates me when I click on a link in a blog and it takes me off the current page.

4. Do not have music playing on your blog.  I often have my own music going when I'm working on my computer, so random blog music annoys me. My response is generally to click off that blog immediately.

5. Use pictures.  Pictures are a great way to break up paragraphs, give a visual which draws a reader in, and they give Pinterest something to publish!

This list is by no means comprehensive, but represents several things on my mind during a recent blog hop. I'm sure this list will continue to grow!

Happy Blogging!
~Tricia



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Social Media and Your Writing

Are you successfully working the social media scene to your advantage as a writer? It can be a great resource, but it can also be a great hindrance, depending on how you use it.  I recently read this great article, Practice Good Facebook Etiquette, by Real Simple magazine and it has excellent pointers for using social media successfully. While the article is specifically about Facebook, it can apply to all avenues of social media.  In addition to this article, I have a few reminders which will help your social media experience work for you and your writing.

What you say in social media stays in social media.  In other words, don't say it if it's not to your advantage because once you write it down out there, you can't undo it. Even if you delete something, it's still "out there" somewhere in cyber space.  Nothing ever truly goes away.  Facebook has recently extended their timeline system to go back even further than they did before and people are up in arms because they claim their private messages are no longer private. That's not the case; it's simply that they said things publicly a few years ago that they might not say today; they are wishing those messages were private.  Their words are coming back to bite them and they are not happy.

Social media mistakes can cost you. More than one person has lost or not gotten a job due to their actions on social media websites.  In social media, you're not just ruining your reputation with one or two people, you're ruining your reputation in front of the world.

Kindness counts.  It's not that you have go out of your way to be kind (although we all should!), but the problem is, unkindness shouts ignorance on social media, and people take note. Social media is not the place to "right all the wrongs" you may or may not experience in life.  In some ways, social media has opened a door for people to avoid confrontation in their relationships and lash out instead. I know of a church which had to take down its Facebook page due to inappropriate comments from its members.  I have a friend in another state who won't even get on any social media due to the actions of the people who were members of a church he left.  You do not want to be the reason someone takes down a page or stops doing social media altogether.

Remember why you're on social media.  If you are using social media to promote and advance your writing career, keep in mind that every single person who reads your posts is a potential customer.  I have learned a great deal from direct sales expert Julie Anne Jones. She uses social media to her advantage, is always positive and yet very reachable. She not only invites business associates and potential clients to her Facebook business page, but she invites all to be personal "friends" as well. This allows clients to see her life, her family and how she balances that with her business. Julie Anne might just be learning how I use her model as an example to my writing students! Kudos to Julie Anne Jones!

Don't base your interpersonal relationships on social media. I've had to "unfriend" or block certain people due to inappropriate behavior of their other friends,  even though I consider them friends in non-social-media places.  Others may have done the same to me, I have no idea. I don't know who has blocked or disassociated with me because I don't watch my list to see who's still there or not. I simply do not base any sort of relationship on social media interaction.  My relationships with people are real, not cyber-produced, so I prefer to have real interaction with the people in my life.  Bottom line: Never take anything personally on any social media outlet.

Happy social media interaction!
~Tricia