As many of you know, I attended the WriteOnCon last week and learned heaps. There was one point that was made in at least two lectures that gave me a kick in the bum: Keep writing.
There were two articles in particular that spoke of this, Give Yourself Permission, by Molly O'Neill, and Keeping Your Chin up in the Face of Rejection, by Crystal Stranaghan. Crystal encourages writers to write their next piece while waiting for replies from queried agents. Molly encourages writers to give themselves permission to "...do what you need to protect yourself as a writer—to turn off the internet, or to stop reading blogs for awhile, or to avoid Twitter—and enable yourself to do that thing which writers must do—TO WRITE."
Woah! Stop right there! I should not follow the writer community on the internet for a while? That got me thinking. Since I started looking for information on how to submit, etc. I've spent every spare moment on the internet to learn, make connections, and build an online platform. We're talking months! But to stop all that and just write? Of course I can do that, and I should! I'm starting university in two weeks and I feel time slipping away. I suddenly realized that I don't have time to hang out on the internet anymore. I don't have to twitter - I don't want to twitter. I love blogging, but it takes so long to think of a topic, write, link, edit, find a good picture, read, re-read, re-re-read, etc. that it's taking away some serious writing time. I want to build an online presence, but I also need to write. How can I balance both?
I didn't follow the WriteOnCon in exact order. In the former part of the days I did, but since each day ended at night here, I usually missed the last two events. So I finally watched the live workshop with Daisy Whitney about Building an Online Presence yesterday, and there I got my answer. She talks about how you don't have to take part in every social media on the internet. If you don't like to tweet - then don't tweet. If you don't like blogging - then don't blog. So I decided that I'm going to blog and follow a few discussion forums, and then build my Facebook account later, since I really like Facebook.
Then there was the question of how often I should blog. It takes up to an hour to put together a blog and try to make it as perfect as I can. Daisy says that it's okay to blog just once a week, as long as you're consistent. That means blogging the same day of the week, every week. That way, the readers know when to expect material from you. The people following you won't stop reading just because you don't blog as often.
So I've decided to blog once a week, at least until I've finished the first draft of the second book. I haven't decided which day that should be, it depends on my uni-schedule, but this will be my entry for this week.
Today alone, I've managed to ignore the internet (until now, but my brain is fried), and I've finished 7,000 words of the first book. Okay, 3,000 of those were already written, so technically that's 4,000 words today. Not bad! I've also finished outlining the book, but after I outlined it, I went back to writing, and I felt a little constricted because of the outline. It was stifling my creativity. So I'm going to use another advice of Molly's: Give yourself permission to stray from your outline.
So I have the outline, but I feel like I need to fill in the blanks, and I can never come up with something if that's what I feel I need to do to prolong the chapter. That's why I'm going to use the outline as points and just write the story as it wants to be written. That's what I did with Book of Black and it turned out awesome.
What am I doing with Book of Black, now that I've started on Book of White? I found critique partners! While they read the manuscript and comment, I use my time to write the second novel. I finally let go of my fears and sent the manuscript to three different people, four if you count a friend of mine who isn't a writer. Can someone steal it, or parts of it? Sure! But I have various versions of the manuscript printed at home, the first five pages and query up on a forum, and on my blog, and I've sent the manuscript to more than one person, so they'd be able to back me up if something gets stolen.
I realized after WriteOnCon that my manuscript isn't nearly ready. I got an auto-rejection from agent Natalie M. Fischer because the manuscript was 110,000 words long (she was commenting on query entries live at WOC), and it taught me that many of the rejections I've gotten might be auto-rejections because of the word count (and because the query synopsis was terrible! I have a new and shiny one ready for the next agent I query - when the manuscript has been revised). Natalie says YA manuscripts should be 90,000 words, +5,000 at the most. Some manuscripts can be longer, but they need to be exceptional, so it's hard to get past the query stage. My critique partners are going to point out things that can be cut/edited.
There are also other things that need to be fixed: Character depth, dialog, and such. I also need to list the tension points and see if they're working as intended. And then I learned that I probably shouldn't have made a universal query letter for all the agents I queried. I should have personalized each one (more than just write the name of said agency). I can send many at a time, as long as they're personalized and don't feel like form-queries. Apparently form-queries are one sure way of getting form-rejections.