Books Read in 2011

Tessa's books-read-2011 book montage

Clockwork Angel
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer

Books Read in 2011 »

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keep Writing!


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 " 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.


  1. Everyone sends off their ms too soon :) Been there done that! And good idea on planning when to post. I am attempting to post daily but can see it petering off to every second day. And rejections are a good thing! Seriously cause you wouldn't want to be linked to someone who doesn't LOVE your work :)

  2. Good luck with writing book two! The internet can tempt you away from writing a lot, or at least that is how I've found it. When I don't focus on online stuff and just write, I can get a lot more accomplished, but it's hard. *laughs*

    And, the things you mentioned are all good points. Critique partners are awesome, by the way. I have a couple, and they are invaluable. And, they don't all have to be writers. For my first YA novel, I had my sister read it too. She's 15, so she's prime age for my novel. It's always good to know your audience. :)

  3. Nicole: True, and I'm glad that some of the agencies that have rejected allow writers to re-submit to the other agents. And I want my agent to LOVE my work ;)

    Cherie: I know so few teenagers, but I got one to read the first two chapters of the manuscript (she's a veeeery busy teenager, and not the book-type). The feedback I got was very helpful, but the fact that she stopped at chapter two should have been a hint ;)

  4. We do all learn along the way. I'm big on not breaking certain rules that could be an automatic turn-off for some agents (word count, prologues, long queries, etc). Agent hunting is a numbers game, and the more agents you get looking at your work the more chances you'll have to find the right one. On the other hand, I'm not big on personalizing queries unless there's something obvious like a client of theirs who writes in a similar style or genre as you. Do your homework and definitely submit to the right agents (those into your genre) in the right way (correct materials/format), but otherwise concentrate on letting the book sell itself.

  5. Thanks Jennifer. The query synopsis was terrible, so that was probably a big factor. It made perfect sense to me, but it was very confusing to the people who critiqued it last week. I have made it simpler, up'ed the stakes and such, but it still needs a little work. Apparently it looks like Alfred's supposed to be Eva's lover, when he is her very old mentor. My brain hurts right now so I'll take a look at it tomorrow.

  6. So awesome that you learned so much from the con. I wasn't able to follow all the lectures, but I've made a Word doc so I can read through the ones I've missed.

    Keep writing... so true. I've told my hubby that on certain days, he just needs to take away the wireless internet access from my computer so I can actually get things DONE!

  7. Hehe. I've made a schedule for myself over the past few days:

    1. Check email in the morning (I'm not working for the next week and a half, until uni starts), and reply to email. Eat breakfast at the same time.
    2. Write, no using the internet unless I need to look up words. This gives me eight hours of writing, minus a few short breaks. Of course I'm breaking this rule right now by replying to this entry >.<
    3. Pick up kids, play with them, prepare a meal, put kids to bed.
    4. Surf the internet/watch TV/Read/Go out with friends. I'm too tired in the evening to concentrate on a blog, so I don't do that.

    Those are the days when I have the whole day to myself. I try to group appointments and such on the same days. Like this week, I had two appointments yesterday, and two tomorrow. So I don't do a lot of writing those days, and I don't stress about it, because I'm using all of Friday to write.

    I have no idea how I will find writing time after uni starts.

  8. I went to a similar writing workshop a few years back. It was very inspirational. They gave useful tips for writer's block.

  9. Yeah, I thought I was developing writer's block two days ago, so I just stopped writing (it was late anyway). The next day, I forced myself to continue at a different angle and it worked :)