As a writer I’m often stumbling around trying to figure out how to do different things. For instance as I’m looking at covers to assess which one I want, I try to look at them in different ways – across the room, on the computer, asking other people. A writer friend of mine suggest I look at them at a smaller size (1 x 1.5) as that is how they will appear in a search on Amazon. Changing the size creates a different perspective and one I hadn’t thought to do. It changed my perception of the covers.
Another writer friend told me how she organizes her to do list. She is an editor / writer and uses a datebook binder to keep track of all of her tasks. This is of course another area I struggle with. I always have a long list of tasks I need to complete.
The writer’s group I belong to has been helpful in knowing some of the tricks of the trade. You can read tons of books but I’ve never seen a book written on these type of practical functions in the writing field. Mostly I think you have to figure out what works for you. It is nice though to have mentor type people who help you along as you learn and grow.
The flip side to this is I always try to be very careful to not take advantage of my mentors. Time is a precious commodity and if they take time to help me I don’t want to infringe on it more than is necessary. I prefer to give as to them as much as they give to me. Obviously we are at different places for experience. I happen to be wonderful at software so I offer up my experience in that area when they need assistance.
There are also people who aren’t in writing who encourage, read, and kick my bum when I need it. These people offer encouragement, read and comment on work, look at covers, and give me a good kick in the bum when needed.
Without this support system, I don’t think I’d have accomplished all I have at this stage. Often I find myself too close to a project to see what needs to be different. A perfect example of this is a short story I wrote. I wrote the story with the sole intention it was going to be just a short story. A few thousand words and then I was going to enter it into contests and so on. Several people told me I should develop it into a book. I kept saying – no it is just a short story. I was determined that I’d told everything that needed telling in the story.
When I took my Fiction Writing class, I submitted it for critique. Almost the entire class thought it should be a book length with more development. I grumbled at my daughter about it and she very nicely gave me a good smack the back of my head (I call this a Gibb’s smack). Essentially she told me to stop and think about what people were suggesting to me.
I did this and it is now in my development pile. I was able to split it up into chapters and have even started filling out more details of each of the chapters. As I thought about how I would split it up into chapters, I got more excited about the story and I could see where there was more story to tell.
My process is very much let the story tell itself. When it is done, I switch hats from creator to editor. The problem with this – particularly in the case of the short story is sometimes I don’t see the additional potential in some of the work. This is where my supporters and mentors come in. They help me take that step back to a more objective place.