Ever wonder what it takes to be a successful writer? Wish someone would share that knowledge with you?
I did. Then Mary Jo Scheibl, whose self-professed goal is to be a wise woman, spoke to the Milwaukee Chapter of Wisconsin Romance Writers. Her words inspired me and I think they’ll encourage you too. She’s my guest today.
I’ll admit it. I’m one of those writers “who’s been writing forever.”
If I look at the fact that I’m now published, I must admit it’s taken me 50 some years. :-) But who wants to admit to that? Once I put serious effort into marketing what I was writing along with writing, I’ll admit I’m an “almost instant” success with getting a contract after 6 years. During those years, I had many times when I was “almost there.” Then something would change the outcome. Always that outcome was beyond my control. Sound familiar?
As my hubby would often tell me in those years, one way to be a sure-fire failure was to quit writing. I didn’t give up and I kept writing my stories always looking to improve my craft and skills with each finished manuscript. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things that I know helped me finally get that contract, hold the book in my hand, experience the book win awards.
Since Brenda asked so nicely to share any wisdom I’ve picked up in my journey, and because Brenda loves the number 13, here are some wise bits of mine.
Feel free to ask questions or make comments since I’ll keep the explanations brief as Brenda asked.
1. Use your time wisely.
· Know your priorities and what you value.
· Set up a schedule and follow it.
· Keep track of each day and what you accomplish.
2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
· If you can’t sit more than an hour, plan writing time accordingly.
· If you’re more alert in the morning, get up even earlier to write.
· Know you’re limits so you don’t overcommit.
3. Realize talent is NOT the only one skill you need.
· Perseverance keeps you going when your talent isn’t recognized.
· Organization keeps your story, your life, you environment on track.
· Prioritizing tasks keeps you focused when too many must-do’s arrive.
4. Write what you love.
· Do I need to explain?
· Writing is hard work and easier when you’re in love with it.
· Don’t be afraid to try something new—if it intrigues you, compels you.
5. Expect/plan to learn something new with each ms.
· A technique, a problem you have, new software, new knowledge.
· Example: I decide my next book will be done in1st person POV.
6. Train yourself to write in certain places.
· When you’re there, body/mind quickly settle in to work.
· Also can be related to time: body expects to be writing during certain times.
7. Never let your creative side be idle too long—always do something.
· Between projects, blog, write a short story, work on a scrapbook, garden.
· Think about new project. Read authors to see how they do what you like.
· Understand what is a break that’s useful vs one that wastes your time.
8. Understand writers’ block. (Really no such thing-just not enough data or desire)
· Think more about your characters/plot/setting/scene.
· Do more research.
· Write a different scene.
· Walk away. Do something else.
· Sleep on the problem.
9. Introductions can be ignored—just get started.
· Hard to introduce “something” when you don’t know it well.
· Write it later, maybe in the second draft.
· Discover the best introduction is the second chapter or 2nd scene of first intro.
10. Revision is important but set limits.
· Recognize a piece of writing can always be improved.
· Establish guidelines for yourself if not imposed by external deadlines.
· Revise to look for different items: Structure, plot holes, character contradictions, etc.
11. What to do when something isn’t working.
· Walk away from it for a bit.
· Do something else creative, for me that’s photography.
· Do a mindless task. Laundry, anyone?
· Sleep on it. Let your unconscious/dream time help you solve your writing issues, plot problems, character points.
12. Trust your instincts. Listen to your gut.
· Not every “sure-fire” writing technique works for everyone.
· Listen to your characters, especially if you see the sense of what they say.
· If you hate what you’re writing, sometimes it’s best to walk away—until a later time.
13. Critique groups or partners & beta readers.
· Don’t always work for every writer. Must fit well and be constructive.
· Can be used in different ways or not at all by different writers.
· Weigh the pros/cons based on your needs, strengths, weaknesses.
If you find useful one of these points, I will have gotten my message across. I write because of the stories in my heart and the ideas in my head. I also hope to reach out to readers and help them on their paths in life, whether it be in my stories, in my blog posts, in speaking programs, as a guest blogger. Thank you, Brenda, for inviting me.
Mary Jo is the author of Black Ribbon Affair. Here is Black Ribbon Affair’s Blurb
Caitlin Donnelly's life is exactly how she wants it—except for the threatening notes. Deciphering who's after her, and why, isn't easy when the suspects include all her co-workers, along with a man from her past. Caitlin isn't sure who she can trust and danger escalates at a pace equaling her attraction to Mike.
Mike Rafferty's life is in a mess. When his personal life disintegrates, he grasps an opportunity: a challenging new job and relocation to a different state. Finally, he has something to look forward to. He discovers an unexpected benefit in his new co-worker, a woman who turned him down years ago. Mike welcomes this unexpected chance to pick up a relationship worth waiting for.
When Caitlin is kidnapped, Mike struggles to save the woman he loves while she learns to trust in his love to keep her alive.
Black Ribbon Affair is available in print and e-book formats at the following:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/r5j0cg
The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/qgg2hM
Black Ribbon Affair finaled in several contests. However, Mary Jo is most proud of its winning The Write Touch Readers’ Award for Best Romantic Suspense because readers determined it was the best. After all, most writers want readers to love what they write.
She’s also extremely proud that Black Ribbon Affair won the HOLT Medallion for Literary Achievement as Best First Book. This contest is very well-respected and many different genres of books get entered. So this award also has very special meaning for her, especially since she will never be eligible for it again.