7 Things Writers Should Stop Wasting Their Time On

IS09AL15JWe all know what a demon procrastination is. But what about the other things that get in the way of actual writing? I have a list of things that (some, not all) writers have a tendency to waste their time with. Whether it’s old habits that need shaking, or creative crutches that lead to excuses, the only way you’re going to write your book is when you sit down and do the work.

My goal, with this post and all of my blogs, is to help writers recognize their personal limitations and push through them for higher productivity and success!

So see if these apply to you, and decide if it’s time to let it go…

  1. Writing with one eye over your shoulder – So many writers hold back, especially when they’re writing their first novel. Whether it’s because it’s painful to go too deep, or they’re afraid what others will think, there comes a time when you have to stop looking over your shoulder and delve inside to find the truth of what you want to say.
  2. Critique groups you’ve outgrown – It’s hard to recognize the exact moment this happens because it’s a progression. I believe critique groups serve many functions: help to schedule ‘you time,’ assist in meeting personal deadlines, teach you observe critiques, and give others feedback. However, everyone knows that growth isn’t predictable or linear. It can happen in leaps or in steady climbs. But someday, you might outgrow your group, so have a plan for what you want to do when that time comes.
  3. Thinking you’re going to please everyone – This is a life skill as well as a writing skill. It’s a fundamental truth that writers learn one way or another. Every writer has the dream that they’ll drop off a manuscript to their agent or editor and they’ll say “I have no critique!” It’s a lovely fantasy, but an extremely rare one–and I think all writers know this; I’m not saying anything new. But don’t let a fear of failing to make everyone happy stop you from writing. Writing happens one word at a time, one day at a time. Do what feels right to you and your voice.
  4. Fancy technology, expensive retreats – These elaborate things don’t make you a writer (but they don’t not make you one either). If you have a habit of thinking the writing will come when you spend money on it, you’re finding a new way to procrastinate. I believe you have to protect your writing time–and if that means a writer’s retreat and you can afford it all the power to you!–but if you’re waiting to start your project once you can afford the retreat, software, workshop, or new laptop it’s another way you’re stopping yourself without even knowing it.
  5. Rewriting your first 5 pages before you finish your first draft – There is no reason to attempt to make a first draft “perfect.” Nothing good will come of it. If you have a habit of tweaking things over and over before you even have the first draft it’s going to lead to over-written work that you don’t want to cut because it’s become a darling. “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood
  6. Twitter stalking – There is a time and a place for research, but sometimes Twitter can be a place that drowns your voice and makes you anxious. I’m all for social media breaks and I think it’s great to have an understanding of the industry, but don’t let Twitter or Facebook take over your protected writing time and take you away from your ultimate goal.
  7. JealousyI wrote this post last year and it remains one of my personal favorites. Please read it again. I think everyone in creative fields can relate. Numbers 1, 2 and 5 are points to come back to time and time again. Moments of jealousy and comparison are a perfect time to reflect on why you’re feeling that way and get out of your funk.

If you want to write, find time to write. You’re the only one that can make your dreams come true!

Q: Did you recently shake a bad writing habit or creative crutch? Tell us about it.

5 Real Reasons Agents Are So Darn Picky

I think some of you swear when you say that line to yourself, but I’m keeping it PG on the blog. Really, why are we so #&$%(&-ing picky?

It’s not only the volume, but that has something to do with it.

We’re picky because we have to be. We wouldn’t be able to stay in business unless we were choosy about everything we signed up. So here’s the truth if you’re still wondering what happens at agents’ desks…

5 Reasons Agents Are Picky

1. Because editors are.

All we hear from editors is how much they have to read, how passionate they have to be in their editorial and acquisitions meetings, how much marketing and sales has a say in the books, and how they have to have a clear vision for projects they take on. So guess what, agents have adopted all those criteria too. It’s true, in this internet age the most important thing is being able to make projects stand out amongst all forms of media. So we’re looking for super special things.

2. Because the recession happened.

I wish we were still in 90s publishing when debuts got $250,000 advances. (Yes, I think we all do.) But the reason publishers don’t give out those advances anymore is because they looked at the books during the recession and thought, Hey, most of these books aren’t earning out. So why are we paying them that much? As much as I’m sad debut fiction doesn’t get that kind of up-front financial support I’m glad that publishers are thinking about royalties, authors earning out, and helping authors plan for a sustainable career–not a blockbuster model.

3. Because we care about the big picture, not the small one.

Good agents aren’t thinking next month or this year when we sign up a client. We’re thinking 5 years from now. We are thinking about all the wonderful things you’re going to do in the long run and how your career is going to grow with our support and guidance. If we thought about the short term we’d be more spontaneous and have more authors–when really it’s important for agents to dedicate our time to current authors on our roster and give them all our attention.

4. Because it’s a business.

Most agents I know are lovely, friendly, wonderful book-loving people that I enjoy spending time with always. But when it gets down to business we are tough cookies. Yes, we are creative individuals too, but when we put our agent hats on it’s all business and that means making choices that people don’t always love. Agents have made peace with that a long time ago. (You wouldn’t be able to dream up the things that get written to us in the horrible slush pile responses.) You don’t want an agent that doesn’t treat this like a business. So that’s why it’s worth the wait for the right agent. We’re picky because we invest our time. We’re not publishers so we can’t woo you with money–our time is all we have to give. And we’re serious about who we give it to.

5. Because being an agent in today’s market is demanding.

This job has never been easy. But the role of the agent has changed. We now have to be fully equipped with knowledge we never thought we’d need to have: consumer insights, meta data, marketing, publicity, social media, ebook technology and much more. If we can’t consult our clients on these things then we’re not doing our job. So it requires agents to have more industry awareness than ever before. Agents’ sole jobs used to be talent spotting and management. Now it’s managing on a more intimate level because publishers have gotten busier too.

With knowledge comes power! Some of you might know this already–but the industry changes daily–and agents have to stay on their toes!

Happy Book Birthday to FAKING PERFECT by Rebecca Phillips

 

FP2Happy Book Birthday to this beauty! FAKING PERFECT by Rebecca Phillips is let loose on the world today. Buy it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chapters/Indigo or wherever you get your books.

Join us and enjoy this fun, romantic, edgy read that reviewers, authors, and bloggers have raved about.

“Fans of Sarah Dessen’s novels will enjoy this book. Phillips will soon be a must-read YA writer for those who love romance and drama.” — School Library Journal

“Completely enthralling. Rebecca Phillips’ novel is edgy and at the same time touching.” — Carolita Blythe, author of Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl

“Edgy and honest, Faking Perfect is the real thing.” — Huntley Fitzpatrick, author of My Life Next Door
“Poignant, edgy, and real, Faking Perfect is an honest look at the courage and strength it can often take simply to be yourself.” — Julianna Scott, author of The Holders
**
faking perfect mechanicalWhen Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High’s resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:
1. Avoid her at school.
2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.
3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.
Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?

**

Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chapters/Indigo or wherever you get your books.

 

Join me at PNWA! Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference 

Pacific Northwest writers! Join me in Seattle for PNWA next month…

PNWA 60th Annual Writer’s Conference.

The Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association (PNWA) will be hosting the 60th Annual Writers conference on July 16 – 19th at the SeaTac Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. This year’s conference offers a robust line up of workshops to benefit writers at all levels, from specific instruction on elements of craft to sessions on the business of writing for those writers ready to publish. A sampling of topics range from crafting a memorable villain to developing an author platform and marketing your book. For a full listing of the sessions offered, please refer to our program schedule located on our website (http://pnwa.org/?page=program)

When: July 16-19, 2015

Where: SeaTac Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, 17620 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98188

206-244-4800 

Pricing (rates are valid until 6/30/15)

• $495 member rate

• $595 non-member rate