My Manuscript is a Victim of Distraction

I’ve been working on my manuscript for two years and am currently in my third or 10th draft of revisions. I honestly have lost track. Writing is a tough process, but getting published is way more challenging and painfully heartbreaking. But I haven’t even gotten published yet.

When you come to a stopping point in your writing, you typically take a break to see what everyone else is doing. There are zillions of distractions and temptations, especially on social media.

Every few days, I am tempted to research lit agents or participate in a Twitter pitch contest or something related. However, each of these distractions take me away from my main purpose and goal: To have a complete and polished manuscript.

Temptations come in all different forms to distract you from your writing/revising focus. If they offered free donuts and coffee, I would be screwed. Here are some typical questions that may come to your mind when you are feeling tempted:

  • Am I ready to query?
  • Is my MS good enough?
  • Am I missing my big break?
  • Does anyone care about my story?
  • What if I just try it now and see what happens?
  • What have I got to lose?

Stop! Be HONEST with yourself. Are you really ready? Sometimes, you have to pull your head out of the clouds and ask yourself the tough questions. Combat those questions with ways to continue working on your MS:

  • What is your story goal?
  • What does my main character want? What does my main character need?
  • Why is my character reacting like that? What fuels him/her? What is their motivation?
  • What is my word count?
  • Do I have a plot? Is there tension, conflict?
  • Who is the antagonist?
  • Do my characters have bios?
  • Have I checked for overused/unnecessary words? Should I check for crutch words?
  • What does my CP think? Do I even have a CP?
  • Have I received all feedback from my beta readers? (Tip: make sure you have objective beta readers, not just friends who will tell you what you hope to hear.)

During my process, which is always going to be a process, I found some great resources to link to:

Writer’s Digest

Better Novel Project

Helping Writers Become Authors by K.M. Weiland

If you know of any other resources, which there are tons, please let me know!

However, for all those seeking temptation and information, here are a few Twitter Pitch Contests/Resources to know about for your future (in no particular order):

PitchWars

PitchMas

PitchSlam

PitMad

Pit2Pub

MSWL

…and there are SO MANY MORE…check out Carissa Taylor’s Blog for a massive list. Pitch Contest Calendar.

 

 

 

Disastrous Rainy Days in South Carolina

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Rainy days are supposed to a time to hunker down and catch up on anything and everything indoors. However, when it rains for days, things tend to have a much different, disastrous outcome. We just experienced historic rainfall in South Carolina, tremendously impacting my coastal county. My family and I are very fortunate for not having any flooding issues in our neighborhood or any problems with our home or vehicles.

However, several friends and coworkers have had a different experience. Here is a slideshow of images from a local news station. Scenes of Flooding. As we get phone calls and texts checking on everyone, my heart aches as we work to rebuild and try to find normalcy.

Schools and daycares have been closed due to road closures and flooding, so I have been home with my kids for a few days. Weirdly enough, I haven’t gone stir-crazy. But I have been obsessively watching social media updates, news stations and contacting friends and family.

While it was fine for me, I am praying for others and waiting to see how my friends’ homes are doing as the river continues to rise. It has not been a good situation and we aren’t out of it yet. Thoughts and prayers are welcome for South Carolina.

Aerial Video of Flooding

Concerned About River Flooding

South Carolina ‘We Lost Everything’

What kind of writer are you?

Every writer’s writing process is personal. There is no one way to do it and it may evolve as you move forward. All of my writing depends on so many factors, such as my environment, my state of mind, any distractions, and any slivers of inspiration. I’m actually writing this blog post from a zebra printed chair in my bathroom at 11:46pm while my family is sleeping. It’s hard to find peace to write with a husband and two small kids.

I write like I put together a puzzle. I’ll start a section, leave it and then return to it a few days later. I also jump around a lot. There are some days I write all my notes on my phone and there are times, I write through GoogleDrive throughout different times of the day. I recently learned that I am a pantster (panster).

What is Your Writing Style?

Pantster (Panster): Writing by the seat of your pants. Needs: varying degrees of freedom. A pantster (panster) wants to know a few ideas or scenes to run with and they rarely know the end of their book as they start writing.

Plotter: Writing in an organized fashion. Needs: structure, outlines, diagrams and knowing things ahead of time. A plotter wants to know and understand the beginning, middle, and end of the book before they start writing.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the term “pantster” was popularized during that time.

What do you do when you are stuck?

If you find yourself struggling in your writing, here are some ideas to get you back on track:

  • Seek out other writers for encouragement and advice.
  • Change your physical writing location.
  • Distract yourself with a good book from your TBR list.
  • Fix yourself a comfort beverage, such as coffee or tea.
  •  Play with some plot bunnies.
  • Take a different approach to your editing/revising.
  • …and never give up!

 

#PitchWars is over, but my journey continues

There is nothing like diving right into something you are passionate about head first, but I was completely naked with flailing arms.
Like other writers before me, I had a story in my head that needed to be released onto paper. My story (about a girl who finds a portal in the basement of a coffee house that leads to a mystical realm) soon evolved into a novel of thousands of words and eventually into a planned trilogy with an epilogue. I felt so proud of myself! I wrote a book. I found beta readers and an editor. I was overly confident that I was on the right path.

Of course, I am an infant in this world of writing, but I started where anyone else would in a new industry; social media. I was on my own, floating on this raft of writing in a vast ocean of publishing. I slowly built my online presence, a website and a Twitter account. I interacted and discovered other writers and such. Basically, it was like trudging through molasses.

Then, I got this wild hair and sent out some query letters. I was elated about taking this next step or, at least, until I got my first form rejection within a week, which said, “Unfortunately, after carefully reviewing your query, we’ve determined that this particular project isn’t the right fit for our agency at this time.” And the last sentence read, “…we wish you all the best in your publishing endeavors.”

I was crushed. So, what did I do? Of course, I tweeted sarcastically about it, using a trending hashtag, #PitchWars. Then the weirdest thing happened. I had 9 favorites about my rejection tweet. At the time, I honestly didn’t realize it was part of a major social media contest by Brenda Drake. I entered and found myself among more than 1,500 hopeful mentees. If selected, you would work with a mentor to get your MS into shape for an agent round. Awesome!

So, I entered with too much expectation and hope. Then there were two weeks of painful waiting, tweeting, Google hangouts with ‘amazeballs’ new writer friends, sleepless nights, eating and drinking nights, stalking, inside jokes, gifs, and mentor teasers that we tried to interpret. I’m not going to downplay the fact that #PitchWars was excruciating.

At some point it hit me and I knew I wasn’t going to get selected by a mentor. I had zero requests for my partial or full MS. That part was tough. I asked the ‘amazeballs’ and got tremendous feedback that was super constructive. Writing is only supposed to get better. So after accepting this, I did what any hopeful would (and should) do, I cheered on my friends, whom I realized were further along in their writing journey. I barely made it to middle school and they were entering college or graduating. My two weeks of waiting ended up being a crash course in writing and publishing. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

But I never believed I lost. I never believed that my MS wasn’t good enough. I only believed that I have a different journey of writing.

Through this entire #PitchWars experience, I learned that the true writer’s community is about encouragement, celebration and reflection. It is also close-knit. Writing may seem like an individual journey, but you will cross paths with so many opportunities for collaboration. These opportunities can come in the form of other writers, CPs (thank you Claribel Ortega!), mentors, agents, story ideas, revising, friends and more. I suppose that’s why the acknowledgements may be the hardest part to write for your book.

Another important lesson from #PitchWars is that there is a certain way to handle rejection. Basically, don’t let social media be your warpath or show that you are having a bitter party of one. You will only end up hurting yourself.

Don’t let any amount of rejection block your path. Take a moment to sit on that log of rejection and reflect. Then, after a quiet pity party and a good, hard cry, get up off your ass, grab some friends and burn that damn log to continue your journey.
Here is my game plan:

  • Snuggle up with my CP
  • Revise the heck out of my MS
  • Beta read for others
  • Really use The Emotion Thesaurus to show, not tell
  • Seek other contests and critique opportunities through Twitter
  • Connect to more writer friends on Twitter
  • Buy/read books to support the community I met from #PitchWars
  • Stalk Writer’s Digest and other such resources
  • Use Query Tracker for potential agents
  • and finally…never give up!