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Why Thick Skin is Important in Writing #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Harper Lee Quote on Writing

This month, I want to talk about the thick skin we must develop as writers. When I began the honest journey eleven years ago, I had no clue what I was getting into. I knew I loved the story. I knew I loved characters and writing worlds I could lose myself in. I had no idea writing could be more scientific than any formula I’d studied in chemistry class.

I had no idea what the industry would be like in the submission process to agents and how many times you might never receive the courtesy of a rejection note—just a simple deadline to mark on your calendar. If that date passes and you’ve heard no word, consider your submission a rejection.

It’s tough to swallow no words.

So what do you do to tackle growth and thick skin?

My advice?

  1. Attend Active Writing Workshops
    Not just theory based workshops and what the industry sees as working, but workshops where you’re given assignments, you start them and debrief with groups of other writers or professionals. Workshops with teachers in the industry like agents and editors who require initial work and give you feedback. Maybe where you’re involved with feedback too. It’s important to take in all the professional feedback you can. When I get work back, I always take a couple of days to ponder others’ thoughts. I ask myself, could they be right? I’ve found that after careful pondering, there is a great deal of truth to what they’ve commented on.
    • I love Writer’s Digest by the way. I’ve learned a great deal in query letter writing, first sentences and first 10 pages that matter.
    • Seek helpful feedback from readers and teachers who read what you write.
  2. Research your Readers 
    I think one important aspect of thick skin and showing others our work is to make sure they’re interested in a topic and also a certain voice.  If a reader isn’t interested in the world you’ve created, their comments won’t be as helpful as you probably need.
  3. Prepare Yourself for Opportunities to Grow and Learn  
    Follow your favorite writers on Instagram, Blogs, or Facebook. When I wrote my first draft of my first novel, I was so proud of myself. I wasn’t aware of what I had to learn in the craft so others would see my work as good as it was to me. I follow Maggie Stiefvater, one of my first Young Adult favorite authors. Her blog is quite extensive with topics and personal accounts. She wants to help. From what I’ve read, she has realistically shares everything she knows.
  4. Study the Craft of Writing in Your Genre
    Take writing classes, hire a writing coach, submit to editors interested in your genre and voice. I’ll write more next time about my writing coach. She’s changed my writing world.
  5. READ.
    Read the competition you wish to pursue. Read the comments on the books and what people love about them.

In sum, thick skin is important. It allows others who want to help you have the courage to do so in confidence. It allows you to grow into the writer you wish and dream to be. Finally, having a thick skin prepares you for the other words of advice you may receive from those anonymous folk who just want to say a word because they don’t know your face.  It’s taken me years. I have my armor. I also know when it’s a good time to set it aside and be the real me. 🙂

Happy Hop Day 🙂

Casting Away the Adverb Crutch #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

A recent letter from my editor came back this week where the good news said I’d finally developed an “intuitive clip” to my scenes that work! I’m thrilled! Then I read on to see the points I still need to address. One of them being my crutch–adverbs in dialogue.

What does this mean? I scratched my head. Then I saw the lovely article included in my editor’s notes from The Write Practice by Jeff Elkins.

A brilliant to the point article with three solid tips and plenty of clear examples, I learned:

A character can say the same statement in so many ways. It’s not always the words that matter though, but the body language that goes along to make a statement stronger, disconnected, or distressing, without actually using she said stronger, he said tersely, or longingly, ect.

For example:

Matt stands in front of his open locker, staring at his watch. Another minute is gone. Two more minutes until the warning bell goes off. There’s no more time to finish the assignment before first hour. This sucks. 

He takes out his phone. The text he’d sent ten minutes earlier goes unanswered. What the heck, Mitch? Where are you? He texts again.

The warning bell fires off so loud Matt’s head rattles. Beyond frustrated, he takes out his Mountain Dew and twists off the cap. 

Footsteps register. Fast ones. Matt twists the cap on so tight his hand burns; It’s Mitch. 

Matt could say several things to Mitch: 

  1. “About time. What’s up?”
  2. “Hey. Where have you been?”
  3. “You look like crap. Need a swig of this?”

Mitch may say several things back.

  1. “I’m sorry. You’d never believe the morning at my place.”
  2. “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about it.”
  3. “Thanks. I could use a boost.”

Now here’s where you add the body language.

Matt slams his locker shut. “About time,” he says. What’s up?” 

“I’m so sorry,” Mitch says and folds his hands in prayer. “You’d never believe the morning at my place.” 

-or-

“Hey,” Matt says with a fist up in his usual morning greet. “Where have you been?”

“Ugh,” Mitch groans and bumps fists. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

-or-

“You look like crap,” Matt says, handing the Mountain Dew to Mitch. “Need a swig of this?”

“Thanks,” Mitch says and points to his straight up bed hair. “I could use a boost.”

If you want to find some really great adverb examples, visit Elkins post.

Last advice I learned about dialogue and body language is to always read your dialogue outloud. 

Also, don’t forget about the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist. There are tons of great body language examples for mood to use with dialogue.

Happy Hop Day 🙂

A Journey for Every Word #IWSG #amwriting #dreams

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here

Thank you to our awesome co-hosts this month: T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

Check out our IWSG homepage for recent news and events.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂 

***

"The grass grew green again and the woods were full of wildflowers." Laura Ingalls Wilder

At four years old, I sat at a tiny desk in a storage room in my mother’s basement. I must have been elevated on a pile of old books so I could reach the top of the desk. It wasn’t the books or the desk that caught my eye. In front of me and on the desk sat an old black typewriter. The keys were metal and round. When I pressed them, a tiny metal foot struck paper and left behind an inked symbol.

At four years old, I couldn’t read, but I understand the idea how symbols tied together built stories.  My older brother could write stories. He could read very well too. I wanted to be like him.

This month’s question asks: “What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just ‘know’ suddenly you wanted to write?”

I think my journey started because of how long it took me to read. I also struggled to write clear sentences, later paragraphs. I think my journey to write came from my drive to read, then took off when my teachers noticed me and complimented my work. They encouraged me to continue to write my creative ideas down. They encouraged me to read my thoughts to others and submit them.

I did. I still am, or at least I’m working on that.

I chose the Laura Ingalls Wilder quote because my mother would read me her books when I was really sick. It was comforting. Wilder’s work is so vivid I couldn’t help but imagine her life back then.

Happy IWSG day. May this new year help you move closer in the direction you wish to go.

Write Your Perfect Sky #IWSG #amwriting #dreams

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome Co-Hosts feature fabulous writing friends  Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, Fundy Blue, and Tyrean Martinson!

Check out our IWSG homepage for recent news and events.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂 

***

On some far away cloud, writing success is me, able to spend the time I need producing stories in a timely fashion from my imagined worlds. I see me, continuing to partner with my writing coach to hone my stories into polished manuscripts ready for the world. I see me, conducting more writing and editing workshops to young people who need it, much further away in the sky.

This is my cloud nine vision years down the road.  My children are still too young yet to devote the time I’d like to have, but they still see me struggling to hold on to my dreams, something I want them to always remember. 

This months question asks: “Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

Please excuse me for my late post as the stomach bug has struck my house. 

Questions: What about you? What’s your dream? Are you doing it? Are you making plans and doing those?