Beginning the awesome journey of revision
When is the best time to start revising a manuscript? Largely, usually, most of the time, after the last word of the story has been typed or written. Some writers need to edit as they write, and as long as it isn’t inhibiting actual progress of the word count, this is totally okay. Editing while writing can help more than hurt.
But if you allow yourself to start revising before the story’s finished, and then consequently never finish, it might be because your stream of thought is being attacked by your critical eye. It’s similar to the difference between reading for pleasure and reading critically and analytically. Writing because you love writing should always come first. Writing because you want to write well comes after.
Being hyper critical as you write instead of after you’ve already written can really hinder your writing process. It’s the difference between, “Everything I write sucks” and “I don’t even care if it sucks, I’ll make it better when I’m done,” and it can really get to you. This is why it’s important to keep the writing process and the revising process separate.
Here are a few tips on how to tackle revising, whether you’re still writing or finished:
- Take notes as you write. Instead of stopping your momentum altogether because a change needs to be made in a prior scene, create a new document or a take a notebook and list changes that need to be made during the revision process after the story’s finished. Be specific, mark the exact pages or scenes so you’ll come back and still remember what the heck you were talking about. Then, continue writing.
- Annotate your outline in another color. As you make changes to your story during the writing process, mark your outline so you know exactly what you did and where, maybe even why. (Or, use differently colored post-its or notecards if you use those methods for outlining.) This is an awesome reference for when you come back during the revision process, but it’s also super convenient to refer back to as you’re writing, keeping you from falling into the trap of rereading and slipping into the critical editor mode prematurely.
- If you have trouble keeping yourself from going back to reread, and it’s keeping you obsessed with perfecting those already written pages, consequently impeding your progress, find a way to put your story out of your immediate reach. If you handwrite your pages, stow them away in a highly inconvenient place, under heavy things, or give them to a trustworthy and respectable friend to keep away from you. If you type up your pages, stow them away on a travel drive and do the same. Maybe email it to them. Always have multiple copies, just in case.
- Once you finish, put it away. No matter how tempting it is to reread all your awesome accomplishment, don’t. It’s all still fresh in your brain. Letting yourself forget about it first will sharpen your revision power later and allow you to see your writing and your story with fresh eyes. How long should you wait? I always recommend at least four weeks, so if you finish your NaNoWriMo novel in the month of November, stash it out of reach for the entire month of December. Don’t look at it again until after the new year.
- Separate yourself from the story. Be critical of the story, but not yourself as a writer. Try as much as you can to separate yourself from what you’ve written, to remove your attachments to your writing and the scenes and the characters. For sure, this isn’t an easy process, but training yourself to think this way over time helps you look at the story more objectively, to see it as a story and not an assessment of your weaknesses. Remember that you’re not even the same writer you are at the end of the story as you were at the beginning.
- Before you start revising, create a new copy of the file. Don’t revise the original if you’re new to the revising process. Create a copy and make all changes to the copy, that way you always have the safety net just in case you delete something that you maybe should have kept.
- When revising, show no mercy. First drafts are not perfect. Neither are second drafts. That awesome metaphor you made doesn’t fit in with the mood of the scene? Slice it. That character with the sly wit doesn’t carry their weight enough to be a main character? Cut them, or merge them with another character. A scene isn’t working out? Drifting from the point or running too long or plagued with too much dialogue? Come down hard on it. Rewrite it if you have to. Identify parts of the story that can be improved or expanded or cut, then show no mercy.
- Feeling down about the story? Go to your writing buddies. Have them read and tell you everything they liked about it. It’s completely normal to feel like the story isn’t working, or isn’t good enough, or is too much like other popular books already on the shelves. These thoughts are normal, they happen, even to published authors. Finding supportive writing buddies and asking them to inflate your ego is absolutely okay. Working on one story, spending so much time on it that you’re sick of it like an annoying roommate, can get you down, but don’t let it defeat you.
- Frustrated? Ready to delete everything? Put it away for a while. At this point, you won’t be able to look at the story objectively, and you may do more harm than good during the process. So, stick it out of sight for a while and work on something else in the meantime.
Additional stuff and stuff:
- You’ve finished your manuscript! Now what?
- Understanding Editing: Revising vs. Proofreading
- Editing Checklist
- Revision sucks but doesn’t have to suck
- Five quick steps to get into revising that manuscript
- 25 Steps To Edit The Merciful Suck Out of Your Story
- When to say you’re done revising
- TWC’s Beta List
- Tips on taking critique
- Tips on giving critique
- What to do with bad writing advice
- Additional insight on bad writing advice
As always, good luck!
Finding the information you need as a writer shouldn’t be a chore. Luckily, there are plenty of search engines out there that are designed to help you at any stage of the process, from coming up with great ideas to finding a publisher to get your work into print. Both writers still in college and those on their way to professional success will appreciate this list of useful search applications that are great from making writing a little easier and more efficient.
Find other writers, publishers and ways to market your work through these searchable databases and search engines.
- Litscene: Use this search engine to search through thousands of writers and literary projects, and add your own as well.
- Thinkers.net: Get a boost in your creativity with some assistance from this site.
- PoeWar: Whether you need help with your career or your writing, this site is full of great searchable articles.
- Publisher’s Catalogues: Try out this site to search through the catalogs and names of thousands of publishers.
- Edit Red: Through this site you can showcase your own work and search through work by others, as well as find helpful FAQ’s on writing.
- Writersdock: Search through this site for help with your writing, find jobs and join other writers in discussions.
- PoetrySoup: If you want to find some inspirational poetry, this site is a great resource.
- Booksie.com: Here, you can search through a wide range of self-published books.
- One Stop Write Shop: Use this tool to search through the writings of hundreds of other amateur writers.
- Writer’s Cafe: Check out this online writer’s forum to find and share creative works.
- Literary Marketplace: Need to know something about the publishing industry? Use this search tool to find the information you need now.
These helpful tools will help you along in the writing process.
- WriteSearch: This search engine focuses exclusively on sites devoted to reading and writing to deliver its results.
- The Burry Man Writers Center: Find a wealth of writing resources on this searchable site.
- Writing.com: This fully-featured site makes it possible to find information both fun and serious about the craft of writing.
- Purdue OWL: Need a little instruction on your writing? This tool from Purdue University can help.
- Writing Forums: Search through these writing forums to find answers to your writing issues.
Try out these tools to get your writing research done in a snap.
- Google Scholar: With this specialized search engine from Google, you’ll only get reliable, academic results for your searches.
- WorldCat: If you need a book from the library, try out this tool. It’ll search and find the closest location.
- Scirus: Find great scientific articles and publications through this search engine.
- OpenLibrary: If you don’t have time to run to a brick-and-mortar library, this online tool can still help you find books you can use.
- Online Journals Search Engine: Try out this search engine to find free online journal articles.
- All Academic: This search engine focuses on returning highly academic, reliable resources.
- LOC Ask a Librarian: Search through the questions on this site to find helpful answers about the holdings at the Library of Congress.
- Encylcopedia.com: This search engine can help you find basic encyclopedia articles.
- Clusty: If you’re searching for a topic to write on, this search engine with clustered results can help get your creative juices flowing.
- Intute: Here you’ll find a British search engine that delivers carefully chosen results from academia.
- AllExperts: Have a question? Ask the experts on this site or search through the existing answers.
Need to look up a quote or a fact? These search tools make it simple.
- Writer’s Web Search Engine: This search engine is a great place to find reference information on how to write well.
- Bloomsbury Magazine Research Centre: You’ll find numerous resources on publications, authors and more through this search engine.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus: Make sure you’re using words correctly and can come up with alternatives with the help of this tool.
- References.net: Find all the reference material you could ever need through this search engine.
- Quotes.net: If you need a quote, try searching for one by topic or by author on this site.
- Literary Encyclopedia: Look up any famous book or author in this search tool.
- Acronym Finder: Not sure what a particular acronym means? Look it up here.
- Bartleby: Through Bartleby, you can find a wide range of quotes from famous thinkers, writers and celebrities.
- Wikipedia.com: Just about anything and everything you could want to look up is found on this site.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Find all the great philosophers you could want to reference in this online tool.
If you’re focusing on writing in a particular niche, these tools can be a big help.
- PubGene: Those working in sci-fi or medical writing will appreciate this database of genes, biological terms and organisms.
- GoPubMd: You’ll find all kinds of science and medical search results here.
- Jayde: Looking for a business? Try out this search tool.
- Zibb: No matter what kind of business you need to find out more about, this tool will find the information.
- TechWeb: Do a little tech research using this news site and search engine.
- Google Trends: Try out this tool to find out what people are talking about.
- Godchecker: Doing a little work on ancient gods and goddesses? This tool can help you make sure you have your information straight.
- Healia: Find a wide range of health topics and information by using this site.
- Sci-Fi Search: Those working on sci-fi can search through relevant sites to make sure their ideas are original.
Find your own work and inspirational tomes from others by using these search engines.
- Literature Classics: This search tool makes it easy to find the free and famous books you want to look through.
- InLibris: This search engine provides one of the largest directories of literary resources on the web.
- SHARP Web: Using this tool, you can search through the information on the history of reading and publishing.
- AllReaders: See what kind of reviews books you admire got with this search engine.
- BookFinder: No matter what book you’re looking for you’re bound to find it here.
- ReadPrint: Search through this site for access to thousands of free books.
- Google Book Search: Search through the content of thousands upon thousands of books here, some of which is free to use.
- Indie Store Finder: If you want to support the little guy, this tool makes it simple to find an independent bookseller in your neck of the woods.
For web writing, these tools can be a big help.
- Technorati: This site makes it possible to search through millions of blogs for both larger topics and individual posts.
- Google Blog Search: Using this specialized Google search engine, you can search through the content of blogs all over the web.
- Domain Search: Looking for a place to start your own blog? This search tool will let you know what’s out there.
- OpinMind: Try out this blog search tool to find opinion focused blogs.
- IceRocket: Here you’ll find a real-time blog search engine so you’ll get the latest news and posts out there.
- PubSub: This search tool scours sites like Twitter and Friendfeed to find the topics people are talking about most every day.
7 Steps to Creativity - How To Have Ideas
by Simon Townley
As a writer, having ideas is one of the most important parts of your craft. But often it seems like one of the most difficult and challenging parts of the whole process.
How do you keep ideas flowing? How do you create a wealth of ideas to choose from? How do you make sure you get to the one killer idea that will make your advert, novel, article or blog post really stand out from the rest?
Some people like to wait for inspiration to strike. Most professional writers, however, don’t have that luxury. You need ideas every working day, not just every now and then.
Luckily, there is a formula for producing ideas on a consistent basis. Of course, like all formulas, it has its limits. You can’t constrain creativity, and to only ever use one method for coming up with ideas would be utter madness.
But if you need to produce strong and creative ideas regularly as part of your writing career, then it pays to know the formula, and how to use it.
First of all, what is an idea? Well, according to James Webb Young in his book ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’, first published in the 1940s:
“An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”
So how do you combine old elements into new? Luckily, Young tells us:
“The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.”
Young says the ability to see relationships between facts is the most important factor in coming up with ideas. This, he says, is a habit of mind “which can be cultivated.”
How do you cultivate it? By reading widely, taking an active interest in life, the world, people around you, a wide variety of subjects and areas of study.
There is also a formula, however, a five step plan which Young outlined in his book. By adding two more steps, you can complete a virtuous circle with a feedback loop that refines and extends your creativity.
So, the seven steps to having ideas are:
A reference for people who are confused. I’ve also included words from aromantic discourse because of the overlap between the two communities. If I forgot anything, or if a definition is wrong, let me know and I’ll add it to the list.
- Ace - Short for asexual.
- Ace of Hearts - A symbol or nickname for asexuals who experience romantic attraction.
- Ace of Spades - A symbol or nickname for asexuals who are aromantic.
- Acephobia - Prejudice or discrimination against asexual-spectrum people.
- Aesthetic Attraction - An interest or desire to look at someone and appreciate their appearance, but which isn’t necessarily sexual or romantic.
- Alloromantic - A person who experiences romantic attraction to other people. Also commonly just called a “romantic person.”
- Allosexism - Belief or assumption that being allosexual is the only way to be, or best way to be
- Allosexual - A person who experiences sexual attraction to other people; a non-asexual person.
- Amatonormativity - The social force that treats romantic relationships as intrinsically superior, more valuable, or more necessary than friendships and non-romantic relationships. A problem for everyone, but especially aromantic people.
- Androromantic - Romantically attracted to men.
- Antisexual - Ideologically opposed to sex, or having negative views of other people’s sexual lifestyles. Related to slut-shaming.
- Aro - Short for aromantic.
- Aromantic - A person who does not experience romantic attraction.
- Aromantic Spectrum - The set of all people who are aromantic, gray-romantic, demiromantic, lithromantic, or who have aromantic tendencies.
- Asexophobia, Asexualphobia - See Acephobia.
- Asexual - A person who does not experience sexual attraction.
- Asexual Flag - A flag of four horizontal stripes: black, gray, white and purple.
- Asexual Spectrum - The set of all people who are asexual, gray-asexual, demisexual, or who have asexual tendencies.
- Asexual Triangle - A downward-pointing triangle that is mostly white, but shades into gray and then black at the bottom tip. Represents the asexual spectrum. Originated as an expansion of the Kinsey Scale.
- Asexy - Describes a person or thing who is cool, excellent, or attractive in a non-sexual way. Also a complimentary descriptor for asexual people in general.
- Autosexual - An old term for someone who only, or mostly, gains sexual pleasure from themself instead of from attraction to others. Rarely used.
- AVEN - Asexual Visibility and Education Network, asexuality.org. The most prominent website and forum dedicated to asexuality.
- Biromantic - Potential to feel romantic attraction to two or more genders.
- Black Ring - An accessory used to signify that one is asexual. Most commonly worn on the right middle finger. Can be of any material or design.
- Cake Jokes - Cake is associated with asexuality for some reason. Most likely originated as a meme on AVEN. Predates the “cake is better than sex” meme.
- Celibacy, Celibate - The lifestyle choice to avoid participating in sex, regardless of whether one feels sexual attraction or not.
- Chastity - To only participate in sex in circumstances prescribed by one’s religious beliefs.
- Compulsory Sexuality - The cultural force that expects all people to be either sexually available or in a sexual relationship, and which expects sex to be an important value or goal for all people. Heterosexuality is especially valued. A major problem for asexual people.
- Corrective Rape - Sexual assault done with the intent to change someone’s sexual or romantic orientation. Queer women, trans* people and asexual people are all victimized by corrective rape.
- Dehumanization - A kind of stigma that lessens a person by making them seem less than human; often likening them to an animal, machine or monster. Sometimes applied to asexual or aromantic people.
- Demiromantic - A person who can only feel romantic attraction to someone they have established a close emotional connection with.
- Demisexual - A person who can only feel sexual attraction to someone they have established a close emotional connection with.
- Erasure - A lack of representation of a group in media, news and pop culture. Erasure may be either deliberate or accidental, and targets all queer identities to varying degrees.
- Grace - Short for gray-asexual.
- Gray-A - Short for gray-asexual.
- Gray-asexual - A person who is somewhere in between 100% asexual and allosexual; they might only experience sexual attraction on very rare occasions, or feel sexual attraction but not desire sexual relationships, or experience a feeling somewhere in between platonic and sexual.
- Gray-romantic - A person who is somewhere in between 100% romantic and aromantic; they might only experience romantic attraction on very rare occasions, or feel romantic attraction but not desire romantic relationships, or experience a feeling somewhere in between platonic and romantic.
- Graysexual - Short for gray-asexual.
- Group X - Refers to asexual people when talking about the Kinsey Scale.
- GSD - Gender and Sexual Diversity. See GSM.
- GSM, GSRM - Gender, Sexual (and Romantic) Minorities. An alternative to the LGBT*QQIAP+ acronym.
- Gynoromantic - Romantically attracted to women.
- Heteroromantic - Romantically attracted to people of a different gender than one’s own.
- Heteronormativity - The cultural force that expects all people to be cisgender, heteroromantic and heterosexual. Major problem that affects all queer identities, including asexuals. Closely linked to homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and acephobia.
- Homoromantic - Romantically attracted to people of the same gender as oneself.
- Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) - Controversial medical disorder; used as evidence that asexuality is pathologized by the medical community.
- Hyposexual - Having a low libido or sex drive.
- Identity policing - Telling a person that the way they identify, or the labels they use to describe themselves, are wrong.
- Invalidation - In regards to asexuals, telling us that asexuality does not exist, humans can’t be asexual, asexuality isn’t an identity, etc. A form of allosexism.
- Kink - A fetish or means of pleasure, often but not necessarily sexual. Some asexual people have kinks.
- Kinsey Scale - A model that categorized human sexuality as a spectrum between heterosexual and homosexual, with bisexuals in the middle. Asexual people were classified as “Group X” and not included on the scale.
- Libido - Sex drive, which may or may not be targeted at a person. Asexual people may have libidos despite not feeling sexual attraction.
- Limerence - Strong feelings of attraction that can be romantic, sexual or platonic. Characterized by a mixture of joy, nervousness, obsessive thoughts and desire for approval from the target of interest. Often occurs in crushes.
- Lithromantic - A person who feels romantic attraction but does not need their feelings to be reciprocated, or who does not like receiving romantic gestures.
- Nonlibidoist - An asexual person who does not feel any desire to masturbate, or who has no sex drive.
- Panromantic - The potential to experience romantic attraction to someone of any gender.
- Pansexual - The potential to experience sexual attraction to someone of any gender. Opposite of asexuality, but some asexual people go through a period of wondering if they are pansexual.
- Pathologization - The act of treating something as an illness or disorder, which is abnormal and needs to be fixed. Asexuality is often pathologized.
- Platonic Attraction - Desire for friendship or another close non-romantic relationship with someone.
- Poly - Short for polyamorous.
- Polyamory - Intimate relationships that are not exclusive. Non-exclusivity may be romantic, sexual, neither, or both. May be a lifestyle choice or an intrinsic part of someone’s sexuality, depending on the person.
- Pomoromantic - One who experiences romantic attraction but does not wish to define it based on gender preferences.
- Pomosexual - One who experiences sexual attraction but does not wish to define it based on gender preferences.
- Primary Attraction - Attraction that is felt upon first meeting someone.
- Queer - An umbrella term for all people who are not heterosexual, heteroromantic and cisgender, and who self-identify as queer. A sensitive issue because of its history as a slur. Not all asexual people are queer.
- Queerplatonic - Love, attraction or interest that is stronger and closer than friendship but not easily categorized as romance; or else, an emotional connection that is ambiguous between friendship and romance.
- QPP - A queerplatonic partner.
- Rape Culture - The social expectations that make rape and sexual assault more socially acceptable, or which cause people to deny importance or recognition to acts of sexual assault. A major problem for women and asexual people.
- Relationship Anarchy - The belief that certain kinds of intimate relationships are not superior to others, despite being more highly valued by popular culture. Opposed to amatonormativity.
- Romantic Attraction - A feeling of attraction, desire or strong interest; often takes the form of crushes, infatuation or falling in love. Hard to define and recognize for some asexual or aromantic people.
- Romantic Orientation - The group of people or genders to which a person can become romantically attracted, if at all. This concept does not work for all asexual people.
- Sapioromantic - Becoming romantically attracted to people based on their intelligence; sometimes overlaps with the aromantic spectrum.
- Sapiosexual - Becoming sexually attracted to people based on their intelligence; sometimes overlaps with the asexual spectrum.
- Secondary Attraction - Attraction that only develops after personally knowing someone for a period of time.
- Sensual Attraction - Attraction that involves a desire to touch or be physically close to someone, but not necessarily in a sexual way.
- Sex-indifferent - Willingness to either participate in or avoid sex; not actively discomforted by engaging in sexual activities. Common among asexual people.
- Sex Positivity - A movement or ideology that values all forms of sex between enthusiastically consenting adults. Opposed to slut-shaming and homophobia.
- Sex-repulsed - Not wanting to engage in sex, often due to disgust, annoyance or discomfort with it. Common among asexual people. Sex-repulsed people may still be sex positive and support sexual freedom for other people.
- Sexual Attraction - A feeling of attraction to someone’s physical appearance with a sexual component, or desire to touch someone sexually. Difficult for some asexual people to define and recognize.
- Sexual Orientation - The group of people or genders to which a person can become sexually attracted, if at all.
- Skolioromantic - Romantically attracted to gender-variant people.
- Skoliosexual - Sexually attracted to gender-variant people.
- Slut-shaming - Attacking a woman’s character or treating her as less worthy of respect because she has had sex, is perceived to have had sex, or dresses in a manner that the slut-shamer does not approve of.
- Squish - The platonic or non-romantic equivalent of a crush. A very strong desire to get to know someone, be their friend and spend time with them.
- Transyada - 1. The Transyada forum, historically spun off from AVEN. Has a large proportion of asexual-spectrum users. 2. Word used on AVEN and Transyada to describe trans*, non-binary or gender-variant people, especially forum members. Many transyadas are also asexual-spectrum.
- Willful ignorance - An attitude of continuing to invalidate and/or hate asexual people despite exposure to information on asexuality.
- WTFromantic - The romantic orientation for people who find romantic orientations confusing, or who don’t perceive a clear difference between feelings of romance and friendship.
- Yada - Short for transyada.
- Zucchini - Humorous or casual term for a queerplatonic partner.
First draft blues
So, let’s say you’re about fifteen thousand words into your story when you realize, “Holy cow, I hate everything I’ve written. This is horrible. Everything about this is horrible. I can’t write, I don’t know what to do, I’m—”
Stop. You’re freaking yourself out.
But trust when I say that this spot you’ve hit is totally, completely normal. Writers, both published and unpublished, fall to this low point all the time whether they’ve finished zero books or fifty books.
Like most problems, the “my story is horrible” breaking point has a multitude of causes, not just one. The little point at the tip of the iceberg sets you off, but that might not even be the biggest problem – it’s the enormous hunk of ice beneath the surface, something that has collected over time, and something we can’t see unless we look deeper.
When you get to this tipping point, the best thing you can do is set the story aside, give yourself some time to breathe, and then figure out what exactly brought you to this stage of breaking apart. Dissecting what’s wrong takes the big wad of frustration and makes sense of it, and when we understand why we feel a particular way, we can find the right antidotes as well.
Here are a few common causes of first draft blues:
- Writing it has been a struggle. Sometimes every single word in your present cumulative word count felt like absolute torture to pull out, and when writing is a struggle, it’s easy to believe the writing reads just as horribly as it felt to write it. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it isn’t. We are, after all, our own harshest critics.
- The story feels like it’s dragging serious hind quarters. Writing is a slow process. Whether you’re a writer who pushes out a few hundred words a day or a few thousand, the writing process is slow. Sometimes this feels, by consequence, like the actual story is also slow, that the pacing drags. Our sense of time passing in the story is disjointed, so it’s not always a wholly accurate grasp of the pacing.
- The story lacks a clear middle. Whether a detail-oriented outliner or a pantser, hitting a point in the story that has no clear direction can kill the momentum, the drive, and the interest. And, sometimes, laboring through the middle can feel like we’re leaving a serious mess in our path instead of the cohesive, consistent story we originally imagined.
- The story is no longer interesting to you. After the beginning is written, the story loses that shiny newness that made it intriguing. All that potential and exploration evolves into commitment and duty, which can then evolve into a chore, like homework. A requirement. It’s no longer as fun as it had been in the beginning. The only cure for this is to push through and write anyway.
- The story didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. Planning and outlining can only tell us so much about a story before we dive in. Largely, we really can’t be sure what we’re going to get until we finish that final word. Some things often can’t be planned for, such as development in characters or plot, and sometimes that feeling of “I’ve lost control of this story” gets us.
- The story feels like it genuinely sucks. It might be because we’re stuck in a highly critical mode and seeing the tiniest flaw in everything. It might be that we see too many of the same stories on the shelves already. It might be the plot, the characters, everything. But the case is often that we’re over-analyzing a work of art before it’s finished.
- The writing isn’t good enough. Sometimes we want and expect the first draft to look as perfect as a final draft, or our most favorite piece of fiction. We have trouble “uglying it up” and letting ourselves write cringe-worthy prose. But writing cringe-worthy prose brings us closer to writing the awesome stuff, while writing nothing leaves us with just that: nothing.
- You reread what you had. Some writers do this to stay motivated, or to get back into the writing mood, and it works for them. For other writers, rereading before the story’s completed can kick out the knees because we turn on the critical mode prematurely. This means we see everything that’s wrong as we’re rereading, and that can get seriously overwhelming.
If you’re stuck in the first draft blues, some of the above things might have hit home with you. They’re all legitimate feelings, and while writing through one or two or even a few is possible, but an army of bad feelings can conquer us.
If you’re feeling close to conquered, don’t give up just yet. Check out these articles from us and our fellow writing blog friends:
- On habits and taking care of yourself
- Steps to becoming confident in your writing
- Troubles with focusing on only one story
- Write for yourself
- Ego versus Insecurity
- The inner critic and ways to fight it
- Writing a story that’s doomed to suck
- Originality: when writing, don’t overthink
- Guide: what to do when your story stalls
- A few tips when your story starts to sound bland
- When your writing sounds bad/bland
- You will change as a writer
You have to surrender to your mediocrity, and just write. Because it’s hard, really hard, to write even a crappy book. But it’s better to write a book that kind of sucks rather than no book at all, as you wait around to magically become Faulkner. No one is going to write your book for you and you can’t write anybody’s book but your own.
Cheryl Strayed (via dejsong)
Yes! This is up there with the Amy Poehler thing about doing things right now, before you’re ready, because great people do things before they are ready.
- Magical World Builder’s Guide
- I Love the End of the Word
- Worldbuilding 101
- Creating a Believable World
How to Write Women of Color and Men of Color if you are White.
A colleague of mine was talking to me recently about her misgivings about her capabilities regarding writing Women of Color. She wanted very badly to include several WOC characters in her sci-fantasy series, but she had some concerns about correct portrayal and writing them in a way that wouldn’t instantly piss people off. I told her I would write something about it that might help. So, here we have it: How to write POC without pissing everyone off and doing a horrible job.
In general, it comes down to three things. Research, Persistence and Consideration. Also. for the point of this essay, I am going to use Black women, Native Women and Mixed Race women as they each represent different individual (yet very important) racial struggles that need consideration.
1. Research is by far the most important thing. EVER. For this example, I am going to use black women.
It is important to start by trying your hardest to forget anything you think you know about black women and black female identity. As a white person, anything you would know about them you probably learned from media that is not controlled by or monitored by black women themselves. Meaning that it is likely not a good representation of black women at all. Or maybe you just have a black friend.
Which you should consider in the same way you would a control group for a science experiment.
One or two subjects would not provide conclusive evidence in regards to any hypothesis. Having one or two or even five black friends can’t help you with understanding the complex history of black discourse….
In order to start from scratch, I would first spend some time reading literature written by black women for black women. Learning the way black women have discourse among each other is the first step to understanding their perspective AND emulating their voice. Literature is the genre of media where POC have the most liberty (unlike film) to discuss certain topics or parts of their identity.
Then, I would delve into “complaints”. There are thousands upon thousands of articles where black women complain about their portrayal in media. These complaints are both valid and often eloquently expressed. It is important for you to know, what things black women (WOC) are already so fucking tired of seeing in regards to incorrect or offensive portrayals of themselves. Not only will it help you avoid making the same mistakes as white writers before you (an example of this: Arthur Golden and the hot mess that is Memoirs of a Geisha), But it will also get you upset about certain ways black women (POC women in general) are portrayed, and make you want to write them better. This can improve your writing in that not only will you avoid being offensive, but you now have the chance to be progressive and kick stereotypes out the window!
Finally, I would take some time to follow some tumblr blogs that are run by the group you’re trying to write. This part of the research can really help because you’ll get a first hand, contemporary dialogue about issues within the specific POC community. Which leads me to my second topic…
Great guide for white writers and definitely click through the “read more” to see more great points below the fold. But just to add on:
In response to the complaint of white writers about writing about people of color: “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t,” I want to say: absolutely.
It’s absolutely true. You’re damned either way. If you don’t do it, you’re a racist. Yes, you are. Race and racism exist in this society, and if you ignore them, you’re expressing a racial privilege that you don’t, morally, have any right to. That’s a subtle form of racism.
If you do do it and get it “wrong”, you’ll get reamed, and rightfully so. It’s presumptuous of you to think that you have the right to represent a culture you don’t belong to if you can’t be bothered to properly examine and accurately portray that culture.
Further, if you do it and get it “right”, or rather, don’t get it wrong, you’ll still get reamed by members of that culture you’ve represented who rightfully resent a white writer’s success representing their culture. After all, every American ethnic minority has its writers: good and bad. The good writers are mostly ignored. Inevitably, some white writer will come along and do a bang-up job portraying that culture and will get—in one book, in one section of a book—more attention than the poc writer got over the course of three or five or ten books.
You’re a white writer trying to do the right thing, but no matter what you do, it’s wrong. And that’s so unfair to you, isn’t it?
Welcome to a tiny taste of what it’s like to be a person of color.
Oh, and quit complaining.White writers should not expect to be praised by POC for writing us and writing us “right,” but the alternatives are horrible and a complete erasure of our multifaceted identities. Laziness is racist and privileged, and this guide is a great starting point for white writers trying to parse this space and do the right thing, even if they may still face criticism for it.