I think there is a natural inclination once a writer is published to think to herself that there is nothing now that is unknown about the process of writing well and concisely. Looking at glossy stacks of your own book is not helpful in this regard since it cements that self-satisfaction. There was time when I thought my first drafts were golden. They flowed bursting with emotion. They were raw. Raw like an onion. Potent but better for being simmered over a low, slow flame with a pat or two of butter. (See how I am prey to over-writing?) Through painful experience I offer up the following to my fellow fledgling authors.
1)READ- Read fiction, read non-fiction, read books about writing, read within your genre, and outside it. Definitely read “The Elements of Style” and Wallace Stegner “On Teaching and Writing Fiction” and Stephen King’s “On Writing” and probably Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” too. Read as much as you can until you are overflowing with other people’s words and then let it percolate for a good, long while.
2) JOIN a local writing group. For the criticism, the support, the social aspect since writing is so very isolating. Also join SCBWI and/or the Children’s Literature Network or any of the other groups geared to your particular genre. They are a wealth of information, and there are message boards at SCBWI which address every conceivable aspect of writing, agenting and publishing. Plus they offer multiple shoulders to cry on.
3)CULTIVATE the friendship of other authors. They might be pompous too but they are also full of advice. And of course, they get ‘it’ whatever that ‘it’ may be. Also it’s much easier to find an agent or a publisher with a referral or recommendation from another writer who might be further along the line that you are.
Why so many posts lately? I am finally feeling back in the groove after my trip, the holidays and some seriously fractured school weeks. And since I failed to mark my 1st Year Blog Anniversary I thought I’d do something special for Blog # 150. I’ve got about 10 or 14 more entries to go.