–Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
I have a problem. I want to write perfectly. I get caught up in perfecting my writing through reading, researching and planning, and I can’t stand finding out pertinent info after the fact. Not to mention, it feels like a waste of time to do something the wrong way, only to have to correct it later. You feel my pain?
If that doesn’t seem like much of a problem to you, let’s remember the rules to writing a novel. Oh, wait, there are none.
Or, there may be too many. I’ve lost track. You see, with all the writer help blogs and articles out there–mine included–filling the internet with disjointed bits and flotsam of advice, it can be hard to keep track of the latest avant garde approach. Is first person point of view still in? Are billionaire romances out?
People hate cliffhangers? When did that happen? Who says serials aren’t cool anymore? Why can’t I just write whatever comes to mind? I need an outline? I don’t need an outline? What? WHAT?! What??
And, while some of what’s out there is about following the trends while others expressly forbid trying to keep up with the in-crowd, it can be tough for an indie author to drop letters on the screen while bombarded with answers to questions they never considered.
At the end of the day, if you want to get any writing done, you’ll have to stop Google searching and get to work. So, to steer you clear of the pitfall of perfectionism, here are my lessons unlearned.
- Lesson: Books should be error proof and grammatically correct. Unlearned: When you’re writing, you don’t have perfect grammar. Nobody writes perfect grammar 100% of the time, and some stories work better without it. With a recent change in how Amazon reports books with errors, many writers are scrambling to keep their drafts as shelf-ready as possible, but the perfectionism is likely keeping the project stalled. Save the grammar and proofing questions for your editor instead of the internet, and just write the dang thing. #EditorJobSecurity 😉
- Lesson: Books should follow a certain structure. Unlearned: Have you found the formula yet? Because I have. I’ve found several. I sometimes use them to good effect, but the truth about outlining and using formulas is that it works for some and not so much for others. I’m not recommending you throw all convention to the wind and try to write the most unique book in the world, since there’s reason to believe that that book won’t sell. I am, however, recommending that you not waste time trying out every formula you run across. Unless you have that kind of time, in which case, have fun!
- Lesson: Indie books need ________. Unlearned: Indie books are books. They need the same things other books need: A great story, professional edit, catchy book blurb, awesome cover and big exposure. They don’t need a gimmick. So, stop searching out ways to set your awesome indie book apart, and just get it written. (Note to self.)
- Lesson: Books should be sold here, here and here. Unlearned: Yes, you should sell your books wherever possible, and you should research places and ways to get your book out there. But, while you’re writing your book, worrying about how and where you’ll sell is putting the cart before the horse. Trying to write a book for the Walmart crowd while also trying to make it for the Barnes & Noble set will make you want to rip out your hair. How about you just write a book first?
- Lesson: You’re not ready to be a writer until you have ________. Unlearned: Whether you fill in the blank with “more schooling,” “more money,” or more “more time,” none of the fillers are true. If you have a story within you and you have to drive to complete that tale, then you’re ready to be a writer. You don’t have to be published across the nation or have a billion fans/author platform. While having the two help, not having them won’t prevent you from being an author. Instead, focus on writing your book. Tell people about your writing. That’s a start to building your author platform. And, don’t believe the hype surrounding what you’ll need to get ahead because sometimes…sometimes all you need is to ditch Google and search yourself.
When I wrote Jonquille, I had no advice, no mentor and no community helping me build the story. The perfectionist in me was bested by reality: There was simply no way to know everything I needed to know–even with extensive study–about being an indie author without testing the waters. Experience is the best teacher. So, writing Deserving came easier after making a few mistakes with my first indie published book.
I still want to write perfectly, and I still do a lot of research and reading up on how to do that, but I learned from mistakes how to spot my errors and when to hire an editor. I learned from experience how to market and promote my book the right way. And, I learned what’s most important is to get it written. I advocate learning as much as you can about your chosen craft, but I don’t advise getting bogged down in trying to follow all the rules and create the perfect bestseller.
Get out there and make a few mistakes. The good thing about writing is there’s always another story to tell. 😉 Read. Write. Be. Entertained.
I’m looking for beta readers for my new book #Deserving. If you’re interested in receiving a free ARC copy to give me feedback and write a review, please email me at email@example.com! ❤