Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bump It Up: Part 1

Bump Your Writing Up to the Next Level
I’ve often suggested there are 5 essential “E’s” for writers to become successful, published authors. The five essentials are Evaluate, Educate, Exercise, Edit, and Engage

Today I want to address Evaluate and Educate, with only a nod to Exercise and Edit since I have talked about both in previous posts.

Next week I want to look at Engagement.

This is not the most experienced writer handing down words of great wisdom to the masses. No, it’s me. I’m going through a period of revising my business plan so these elements are near and dear to my heart right now.

If you really want to be successful in your writing ventures, you need take some time to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I look back at my early efforts to evaluate my status and laugh. There was so much I didn’t know, I didn’t know what I was missing!

I knew was a strong researcher and weak when it came to social media. I didn’t even know what a blog was nor did I have an inkling how to set up a Facebook page. In fact, my grad assistant set up my first Facebook page for me. I use it as my personal page. I’ve learned much more about social media since that time. Not everything. But enough that it is time to do a bit of reevaluation and discover what’s next on my hit list.

I invite you along on the journey. Think about those areas of strength you have as a writer as well as those areas of weakness. I’m not just talking about what you want to learn, but rather those areas where you feel truly weak.

Maybe an example would help. I want to learn more about self-publishing. I think I have a few nonfiction works I want to put out there, but don’t want to necessarily go through a traditional publisher. It isn’t that I am weak in that area. I don’t know enough about it. I know enough about technology to self-publish and there are many tutorials on the subject. It is a matter of writing, editing, revising, editing, and uploading to Amazon.

However, a weakness I have noted is my own understanding of differing plot structures. If you haven’t guessed, that’s a biggie in fiction writing. I think that maybe intuitively I understand what my story calls for by way of structure, but I don’t readily recognize pitfalls or problems I create that could easily be solved if I could articulate the structure or underpinnings of my story. Does this make sense? Maybe not. It is a weakness for sure.

What weakness in your writing is holding you back?

Now that you have a notion of those areas where you are weak, you need to devise a plan to address those weaknesses. This is what I call the education piece. Yes, I could hire a content editor to do help me identify the problems in my plot, but I (and my writing) will be better served if I learn some of those skills on my own.

How? There are lots of options. I can start with an online search for blogs about the subject. I can sign up for a workshop or a writing course at the local junior college. I can tap into some books at the library. I can sign up for a free webinar on the subject and pick the brains of more experienced writers. I can educate myself. It may take a bit of time and a lot of “homework,” but the end result will be worth it.

Putting it into Practice: A Bit about Exercise
Take the weaknesses you identified and create for yourself some exercises to improve those areas in addition to the education piece. Here is an example:

Susan says: “My weakness? I find it extremely hard to write a query letter. Mine always sound so stiff and boring. And I get no response from agents or publishers.”

Susan will want to spend some time researching killer query letters. She may attend a workshop at a conference on the topic or “attend” a webinar on the subject. She may go to her local library and check out a book on Query Letters for Dummies. (I’m pretty sure it’s out there.)

As her exercise, Susan may decide to draft several query letters. She may line her letters up against one she finds on-line to see how they compare. Get the idea? The exercise is a way to stretch your writing and address those weaknesses. (More Here)

A Nod to Editing
This really should be more than a nod! Without editing, your writing is worthless. Who wants to read something unedited? Okay, your mom. But that’s it.

As a child, I despised the chore of weeding the garden. At first, that’s what I thought editing was –a chore. Out with the worthless, nurture the meaty. If editing is your weakness, you need to work on that skill. There is editing and there is editing. The two big ones you can readily address are editing for content and copy-editing. Editing for content is like making sure the Beans are in the bean row and the corn, when it grows tall, won’t overshadow the tomatoes.  In other words, make sure your story makes sense, the characters are consistent, and so forth.

Copy-editing is weeding the garden, ridding it of unnecessary or misspelled words, and poor grammar. It is also the place where you fix the punctuation and sentence structure so that your piece reads as intended.  (More Here)

Thank you for visiting today. I would love to hear from you thoughts about your own writing. Have you identified a weakness? What is your plan to address it? Drop a quick comment in the comment section, if you will, or take a moment to share the post with your other writer friends.

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