Being the best writer I can be

There are a lot of things to consider when making the effort to publish a well quality novel.

Revise: This may sound like an obvious one, but it’s often underestimated as it requires a lot of work. Whether it’s self-publishing or traditional publishing producing a quality novel is key and that can only happen with persistent editing and revision. It’s a lot of time and energy that I’m sacrificing for it and I’m loving it.

Critique circles: So this brings me to critique circles. Finding beta readers or others who are willing to exchange critiques is very helpful, especially to the authors who are don’t hire a professional editor. A professional editor will spare a lot of time, however, and polish a novel. it’s good an option. A professional editor can charge between 1,000-3,000, however. It’d be worth it if a writer can  afford these expenses. I’m willing to spend loads of energy and time doing my editing along with beta readers and critique circles. I am currently majoring pursuing my Masters in English, which is not necessary to become a published author, but it helps with the revision process.

Read everyday, anywhere anytime, when you can. Read all types of books, fiction and nonfiction. Even if it’s only thirty minutes  in the bathroom or waiting in an office somewhere, or on a lunch break, I get in a reading. Of course, I read my novels, but I also seem to obtain a lot of benefit and ideas from reading magazines such as National Geographic, Discover, etc…and news articles, not to mention a lot of other nonfiction.

I write everyday. I usually record my progress paying attention to my novel’s word count and average 3,000 words daily.  Like an athlete has to practice to maintain her or his skill, a writer has to write to maintain her or his skill. This allows me to grow. Writing short stories weekly also has helped me not only maintain my writing, but has helped me develop the origin of a new story, a short story I could expand. I have five works that I first wrote as short stories that I’m now outlining for novels.  I have been a mid and long distance runner for years, but only recently have I began to increase my pace. Why haven’t I been able to run distance races as fast as I wanted? Because I did not try, I didn’t train for it. After only three weeks of speed work, I notice my runs are becoming faster. No pain no gain, is right!

So, my strategy for being the best writer I can be is pretty simple. Consistency is key. With hectic schedules, work, school….it’s difficult to slip in time for writing and reading, but it’s there. I look for every opportunity I can.

2 thoughts on “Being the best writer I can be

  1. Vincent, great article, but I think you missed the boat when it comes to editing. An author, especially and Indie author, cannot forego a professional edit for a circle of beta readers, unless these people have English/writing degrees and get paid to edit novels for a living. Yes, well read beta readers are invaluable when it comes to story etc, but they can’t replace REAL editors.

    We as authors should not rely on our own editing abilities to take us to finished product, because we are too close to the work and generally can’t bear cutting our darlings. This is why an editor is so important; not only do they edit for grammar etc, but they know what is working and what isn’t and they don’t mind cutting the darlings.

    Indies have to be even more diligent these days about their end product than a traditionally published author, because we have to overcome the indie writers who have given indie authorship a bad name due to poor writing ability and poor story structure. Most reputable review sites will no longer review indie books because indie authors can’t take criticism and refused to learn the craft properly and fully.

    Over all, your article has some great advice, but for your own sake, If you’re serious about writing, you should consider paying an editor.

    Blessings,

    Chrinda Jones indie author of ‘Darkness Knows Me’

    • Hi Chrinda,

      Thank you for reading my article and responding with solid advice. I definitely understand the value of hiring a professional editor, it’s what he or she does after all. But the option of hiring one isn’t feasible to every author. Does this mean the author should give up until they can afford the cost? Does it mean the writer doesn’t take her or his work seriously? Not necessarily. There are traditionally published books as there are self-published books that are poor quality. There are Indie authors who take their work seriously. There’s just a lot more work involved. I feel the Indie author industry has got a bad rap due to poor writing and story structure as has traditionally published work. A quality novel is quality novel whether it’s traditionally or self-published. I believe it’s best to receive feedback from more than one person, because I’ll receive a variety advice. However, too much feedback may create confusion; too much variety. I agree, as an author, I need more sets of eyes, more brains looking over my manuscript. I ask myself, what is it an editor does? Well, they edit of course, proofread for grammar, spelling, sentence structure, paragraph unity, organization, choice of words, dialogue, plot, author’s and character’s voice, character development, and a lot of other features. I do believe an author can obtain this, but not easily: some late nights and caffeine. Joining writing workshops and critique circles is very helpful. I am hardly an expert and make my share of mechanical errors. I do, however, obtain a lot of help from my critique circle, who are inspiring writers, avid readers, and some editors. These are people who read and review work I plan to publish. You are spot on saying that us authors shouldn’t rely on our own editing abilities, because our novels are our babies. And I love my babies! That’s why I am part of a critique group(brutal) and decided to meet up with beta readers. The best combination, at least for most authors in my opinion is to hire a professional editor in addition to critique circles, not just one or the other. At this point I’m confident editing my work and letting others in writing workshops tear my story apart. But maybe I’ll come up with the 1-3k later and hire an editor.

      Thanks for the enlightening response.

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