5 #Subtips For Writers

As an editor and now as an author, I know it can be tough to write a great manuscript, write yet another one, slog through the query trenches, go through edits, release that book into the wild, and still keep your sanity. I tweet on my #subtips hashtag on Twitter to share thoughts and tips as I learn them, but several things keep coming up in the slush and with my clients as I edit. So, here’s some of my advice for those most common issues:

1) Keep writing. When you’re querying, when you’re on submission, when you’re waiting, keep writing. Having another project to put your energy into is a great way to help balance the nerves, time, and stress that goes along with publishing. Plus, if you decide to shelve that first manuscript, you’ll be well on your way to having a new one completed, and if you do land an agent/book deal, having another project nearly ready is great.

2) Trust your ability to rewrite. Holding too tightly to sentences and paragraphs and ideas in my manuscripts held me back more than almost anything else. Someone once told me that if I can write one good line, I can scrap it and write another, and if I can have one good idea, I can come up with a second. Skill and talent aren’t accidents you can’t repeat. Doing what’s best for the story and the prose and not keeping myself locked in to something just because I’m proud of it is essential to being a good writer. That’s been a huge factor in reducing the stress of revisions. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again.

3) Don’t expect your first draft to be magical. Don’t get discouraged when you’re drafting if you’re not seeing magic happen. That magical touch and those insightful moments you see in great books aren’t magic at all. They’re the result of blood and sweat. First drafts are limp and flat and awkward—that’s normal. The depth and layers come as you revise. And revise. And revise.

4)  Focus on your own writing. When I was querying, it was sometimes a struggle to not be jealous when someone else signed with an agent. When I was on submission, it was hard to not be jealous when someone else landed a book deal. Even though I was happy for my friends, it often made me wonder if it meant I wasn’t as good because it hadn’t happened for me yet. And now that I have a book out, there are other authors’ awards, bestseller lists, and publicity and buzz I could be worrying about. But no one else’s success diminishes mine. One of the most wonderful things I’ve been realizing as I find critique partners and connect and blog with other authors, particularly in YA, is that we’re much more colleagues than competitors. Readers can pick up my book, and they can pick up someone else’s, too. Another author’s success doesn’t limit or detract from mine. What does limit my success is me looking at someone else’s plate, and wishing I had what they had, and letting my own work suffer.

5) Think of writing and the publishing journey as pursuing any other career. Study, learn from experts, network, study more, practice, take constructive feedback, and work, work, work. Writers sometimes have the expectation that it should take maybe a year to write and revise a MS and a year to get the querying process figured out, query, and hear back. Either way, 2-3 years is about the time we expect to have an agent and be on submission by if we’re any good. I don’t think that mindset is accurate or necessarily healthy. Writing is a competitive, demanding, detail-oriented, incredibly complex career. No other career like that gets off the ground in 2-3 years. It takes more than that to become a teacher, lawyer, engineer, graphic designer, or doctor, and even then, most of them have to work their way up. You haven’t failed and you aren’t a bad writer just because your journey takes longer than someone else’s. Treat it like a long-haul career both in your expectations and your work habits. You are the biggest factor in your career.

I originally wrote this post for The Secret Life of Writers as part of my blog tour for my book release– I wrote about 30 posts that went up on different sites over November and December, and with all that content out there, I’d like to keep it all in one place, so I’m posting it here for archiving purposes.

Revisions, #Subtips, and Tumblr

Happy Tuesday, readers! I’m back from my week in Colorado to visit my brand-new nephew (born 6 weeks early!) and help my sister out a bit. He’s great, she’s great, and it was so great to have some time with family.

I’m back to writing and editing now, and I have a few fun things for you today.

First, I posted a guide to handling revisions for Pen and Muse’s summer school, where I discuss everything from receiving an editorial letter to turning that advice into specific action items, and from writing your own editorial letter to handling opposite feedback from critique partners: A Guide to Handling Revisions

Second, I recently had several people ask me to storyify some of my #subtips. I’ve put up a few on pacing, character development, writing romance, and gender roles, so in case that’s of interest to you, here they are! #Subtips on Storify

Third, Jamie Adams interviewed me about the best and worst writing advice I’ve ever received, the hardest scene for me to write in HOW WE FALL, my favorite scene (oh my), and my life phrase, in which I quote Kingsley Shacklebolt. Interview with Kate Brauning

Finally, I’m on tumblr! I’ve been figuring out how I want to use it, and since this blog is so writer/publishing-focused, I wanted something more reader-focused. So, if you want awesome content for readers who might not necessarily be writers, follow me there! Here’s what the content looks like:

Music Mondays: Most writers love music, and I’m no exception. Mondays I post a music video that has inspired me or my work. It’s often something from my WIP playlist or one of those life songs that you feel like all your friends need to know.

Ted Talk Tuesday: Tuesdays I post a Ted Talk about creativity, intelligence, literacy, efficiency, or anything else related to life as a creative. They’re fun, challenging short videos from experts in their field and a great way to challenge yourself and learn something valuable.

Wednesday Word Love: I post awesome quotes from writers or their books, news stories about awesome things writers are doing, and awesome new cover reveals and releases. Basically, anything awesome. 🙂

Thursday Thought: On Thursdays I try to post either something I’ve been thinking myself, or something thought-provoking I’ve found elsewhere, usually about books or creativity or literacy or social justice issues.

Fangirl Friday: Posts on Fridays cover anything I’m fangirling over– Game of Thrones wedding cakes, Harry Potter GIFs, YA books-turned-int0-movies that I want to see, etc.

Weekend Reads: Either Saturday or Sunday, I tell you what I’m reading that week, and if I think you should read it too!

So, yeah, if any of that sounds fun to you, feel free to follow me on tumblr!

Thanks so much for reading, guys!