Writing Tips

What to do when your DISTANCING yourself from your writing

In one of my previous posts titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?“, I encourage authors to get some distance from their book once they finish it. Here’s what I said:

2. If this is the first draft of your book, keep in mind that you are probably nowhere near publishing it (yet). You need to give your book some distance. Right now, you are in the “infatuation” stage where your book can do no wrong. It might be beautiful, but everybody has their “quirks” and that includes your book. Give yourself at least a week (if not more) to let your giddiness die down (just a smidge). After you have allowed yourself this distance, read through your novel.

So what CAN you do during this time of distance? Anything!

What should you do? Now that is a different matter entirely. Here are some options:

Work on Your Social Media Platforms

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. A large part of getting your book into your reader’s hands is to market yourself along with your book. This isn’t the article to talk about how to grow your social media (that would take MANY articles), this is just a reminder that you should be growing your author platform in different areas LONG before you ever publish a book. Build yourself a following that is looking forward to the release of your novel instead of trying to find readers retroactively.

Start Researching Agents You Believe Will Enjoy Your Book

As I mentioned in “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?” you are going to need to start researching agents (if you plan to go the traditional route). While you are giving your book some distance, start looking into different agencies and specific agents to narrow down the agents you believe will best enjoy your book!

READ Other Books in Your Same Genre that Have Recently Come Out

Great authors are often great readers. Take a break from writing, you’ve earned it, but stay in your world (genre) by reading what is currently popular in your chosen genre. This can be both relaxing and informational. Get lost in a story while appreciating the elements of the story that make it enjoyable. Ask yourself: does my story have these elements that drive a story?

Find Other Projects to Keep that Creativity Flowing!

Still riding that high of finishing your book and you just NEED to keep writing? Go for it! Start writing your next book, this could be a follow-up to the book you just finished or a new idea entirely! (Small addendum though: if you are working on sequels, I encourage you to outline them instead of writing them. Outlining will still help you see where your story is going, but if your first book has major changes during the publishing process, you won’t have to go re-write the next book to make it work).

Or, if you’re like me, write a blog post about distancing from your book and how you are keeping yourself occupied!

Do you distance yourself from your writing once you’ve completed it? What do you do during your “time apart”? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?

After months, maybe years, of dedicated hard work, you are finally able to type “The End.” It’s the feeling that you always dreamed it would be. THIS is your masterpiece, THIS is your legacy, THIS is everything you hoped it would be!

Now what?

Let me outline a few general steps that you still need to take before you hold that beautiful hard copy of your book in your hands.

1. Congratulations! Finishing your book, whether its your first or fifty-first, is an amazing accomplishment. Take a moment to revel in your achievement, but don’t get too carried away. Your hard work is far from over.

2. If this is the first draft of your book, keep in mind that you are probably nowhere near publishing it (yet). You need to give your book some distance. Right now, you are in the “infatuation” stage where your book can do no wrong. It might be beautiful, but everybody has their “quirks” and that includes your book. Give yourself at least a week (if not more) to let your giddiness die down (just a smidge). After you have allowed yourself this distance, read through your novel.

  • What can you do during this time of distance? Keep your eyes open for my upcoming post about ways to spend your “Distance.”

3. As you are reading, take on the role of your target audience, someone with no background knowledge of what it took for you to write this book or where you are going. Read without looking at the grammar or spelling, read without allowing yourself to edit. Read ONLY for the sake of answering the BIG questions: Does my book have a completed story arc? Is the journey for my main protagonist clear? Are there any plot holes in my story? Are there any consistency issues? Once, you’ve done this, let’s move on to the next step: Revision.

4. Some call this revision, for me, it’s almost always a REWRITE, especially if I have only ever written the first draft. My stories usually go through five or more drafts before I start “editing.” Anyhow, in this revise/rewrite section, it’s time to address those big questions and make sure that your story flows naturally, has realistic conflicts (minor) that all lead to the major climax with plausible consequences that all lead into a resolution that has an impact on your characters and readers. Simple, right? (That was sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.)

5. NOW you’ve truly got something to work with! Still, I recommend you don’t send your book out quite yet. Instead, send your finished manuscript to some trusted BETA-readers first. This allows you another set(s) of eyes to view your book for big picture questions before you bare your soul to that agent or publishing house. (Keep a look out for that upcoming post as well: Questions to Ask Your Beta Reader).

6. Once you are satisfied that your book is TRULY ready to send out, you need to ask yourself which route you are going to go. Traditional publishing (typically through an agent) or self-publishing. This article is going to follow the traditional publishing route.

7. Unfortunately, the days when you could query your book directly to major publishing houses is pretty much long gone, you’ll need an agent now to speak on your behalf. Although agents get a bad rap, they really are there to help the author. So, you’ll need to find an agent and here are few suggested places you can look:

  • Publisher’s Marketplace & Query Tracker typically appear in most articles about finding an agent (although it does cost to get all of the benefits of these sites). Of the two, I have found Publisher’s Marketplace to be more user-friendly and filled with great information!
  • Literary Rambles has some excellent interviews with agents, what they’re looking for, and how to submit! I love that I can “hear” from so many agents about what they are personally looking for.

8. Finding an agent that meshes well with your vision will take some time, but it will increase your chances at getting an acceptance instead of a rejection. Once you have found the agents you like (yes, agents, multiple), you will need to write the author bio, query letter, and synopsis for you and your book (multiple future blog posts coming up!)

9. When you send out your queries, PLEASE make sure to pay special attention to the particular directions each of your agents might have. If they are asking for something in particular and you ignore their request, why should they not ignore you? Respect goes both ways, so pay attention to what they are looking for!

10. Accept rejection. I’ll be honest. It’s going to happen. Not maybe, not possibly, but most definitely, and it doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with you or your book. It might mean that you need to adjust your query itself. Or it could be the wrong agent. I know it is unbelievably hard to get a “no,” or even worse that dreaded silence in which you don’t even feel worthy of a rejection, but hang in there. Go back to steps 7 & 8. Find new agents, review your query itself, and try again.

11. Don’t give up hope. It probably won’t happen on the first try, or the second, or the third, but it will never happen at all if you give up. Hang in there, I look forward to seeing YOUR book on my shelf!

Do you have any questions about this process post-manuscript completion? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Give Yourself Some Deadlines

Give yourself Deadlines and here’s the important thing… stick to them!

Deadlines are SO important, if you do not set realistic goals for yourself, you will find yourself falling behind. When setting deadlines, you are motivating yourself to accomplish small and attainable goals. There are two major premises to making deadlines work for you.

1. You need to have someone to keep you accountable.
Deadlines are great and all, but only if you have someone to be accountable to; if you are only accountable to yourself you are more likely to miss a deadline. It’s kind of like working out at the gym, you are more likely to meet your goals if you go with someone. So here’s some options: Find a friend or family member (who you trust) who would enjoy reading your stuff. Not only will it help you keep your deadlines but they might also give you some great feedback! If you don’t want to share your work quite yet, join a writing community where you can ask for encouragement in meeting your set deadlines.

2. You need to set REALISTIC goals.
This one is SO key. Do not set unattainable goals. When you set a goal that is practically impossible, it will be no surprise when you do fail and then you are only discouraged. Be kind to yourself and set realistic goals such as a certain amount of words per day, a certain amount of pages per week (even if it’s one page), or in my case, a chapter a month. By setting realistic deadlines you increase your probability of achieving your goals which will results in more self-esteem and motivation.

For instance, I know that I can get far more writing done during the summer than I can when I am burried by my school work. Knowing this, I set myself a huge challenge over the summer to write 80,000 words in 10 weeks and I hit every goal! At the same time, I know that I will most likely not see progress like that again until next summer. It’s all about knowing your limitations and abilities when setting deadlines.

What deadlines do YOU plan to set this week?

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Allow Your Writing to Evolve

When writing multiple drafts of your book just know that your story WILL change.

Perhaps not a ton, perhaps only a little, or perhaps it will be a completely different book than the one you intended on writing in the first place, but one way or another, your book will evolve over time.

For example, I wrote the first draft of my current book series, The Runic Saga, over six years ago. This last summer, I rewrote the entire thing from start to finish. The characters are the same, the general plot line is there, but everything else is completely different and I mean, ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. Some characters were nixed, some were added, the whole world changed, but I know that it is a more compelling story because of those changes.

Change isn’t a bad thing. As you write, your ideas will grow and form. You might realize that what sounded like a great idea before doesn’t really work well in application. You may be hit with a sudden inspiration to go a different direction.

My advice?

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But in all seriousness, go for it! If you feel your book changing, you need to allow it. If you stick too tightly to your original plan, your writing will come out forced and it will sound that way to your readers. Take the new path and see where the new ideas lead you. If you hate them you can always go back and try again.

In other words, planning and outlining your book is important. But it is also just as important to allow your book to change and evolve as you write.

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Manage Your Expectations

As some of you may know, I am wife. We just celebrated our one year anniversary this summer! Being married is the best thing in the world, but it requires work. I’ll never forget that while preparing for our marriage and taking pre-marriage classes, I learned that there is ONE thing that kills marriages faster than anything else. It’s not finances or politics. Nope, it’s unmet expectations!

Now, my blog is not about marriage, however, I could not help thinking how this applies directly to our writing. How often to we come up with grandiose ideas for our novels that will sell a billion copies and make us millions of dollars? Ever catch yourself day dreaming about which actors and actresses would star in your film once that adapt your book into movie formatting? (No one, just me? Anyhoo . . .)

The point is, in our writing too we must manage our expectations. 

Writing is hard and making a break through in the industry is even harder, some might say that it is nearly impossible. So I am encouraging you to “make resolutions” (without the need for a New Year) and to set goals for your writing, but in doing so, make them realistic!

  • Set yourself real goals that you truly can accomplish! Here are some examples:
    • Write Every Day (even if it’s just for 5 minutes)
      • Try to hit a word count every day (even if it’s 20 words).
      • Try to finish as much as that book as possible (even if it’s not the whole thing.)
      • Send out queries to multiple publication houses (but don’t stop writing, waiting to hear back)
  • Don’t give yourself unrealistic expectations. Here are some examples:
      • Starting and Finishing that new idea for a book and having it picked up within the year (yes it can happen, but it doesn’t often)
      • Becoming a millionaire with your first book (Suzanne Collins wrote amazing books for YEARS and was not known until her latest series).

Be kind to yourself and be honest with your writing. Expect that some days will be more productive than others and set realistic expectations so that you do not cause unnecessary hardship.

What are some of your realistic and unrealistic expectations? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: The Three-Draft Minimum

Today, I’m going to offer you some advice about how many drafts you should have before you consider sending out your full manuscript to a publishing company.

I consider the minimum number to be 3: Three full-length drafts and let me tell you why.

Draft One: Getting it Down

Your very first draft should be focused on just getting your writing out of your head and down on paper. In this draft, I encourage you to just write. Do not focus on getting it perfect, or saying everything you need to say. Major plot lines only people!

Create the bones of your manuscript.

Or, in other words, consider it the road map for the rest of your drafts. This first draft is all about getting your words on paper and it will be messy, it will be disorganized, it will not be perfect. And guess what, it shouldn’t be. However, this is very important: this is NOT an outline. This first draft should be a whole and complete draft with plot lines and developed characters. When I say this is the bones of your manuscript, you should still include the entire skeleton.

Draft Two: Buffing it Out

After “completing” your first draft (meaning that the bones of your manuscript are present and arranged), it is time to start adding the “meat” (the muscles, sinews, and veins, etc.). Draft Two can be accomplished on your own or with a friend or writing colleague. I personally believe that it is beneficial to have outside opinion for this draft. What I do, is I send my Draft One to friends and receive BETA reader comments. What needs flushing out? What drags? What doesn’t make sense, etc.? Once I have their comments, I comb back through my first draft and begin addressing both their comments and add in my own.

As I am going through, thinking about their comments and my own, I REWRITE (yes you heard me), REWRITE the entire manuscript. I open up a new blank screen next to my first draft and I RETYPE everything. I add in minor plot lines, flush our foreshadowing, and make the oh-so-necessary connections. After this, you should have a completed, flushed out draft, but you’re not done yet.

Draft Three: Cleaning it Up

Once you have completed crafting your narrative (it has bones, and muscle, and skin), it’s time to make it pretty! If hardcore editing is not your thing, ask for outside help whether that means the family member who is an English major or paying for grammar edits. Trust me, nothing lowers the quality of a good book faster than bad grammar. This is your one chance to impress a publishing company, so spend some time (and maybe *some* money) improving your manuscript until it shines.

Well, there you have it: my minimum three-draft rule!

What do you think? Is three drafts too many or too little? Be sure to comment below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: STOP Writing; Keep Writing

Ah, don’t you just love contradictions?

Many of you have probably read my blog post: Writing Tip: STOP Writing. I have posted this tip in the past and normally, it is well-received once people get past the initial shock. One of my favorite things about blogging is the comment section because in the comments, I really get to have conversations with other like-minded, brilliant authors and bloggers. For instance, in the past, I have discussed these writing tips with various bloggers such as Michelle at Fantasyland on the power of stopping a project while continuing to work. That conversation sparked today’s blog post (so thank you Michelle!)

Michelle mentioned that when she needs to, she will sometimes stop the current project she is working on (giving herself that needed distance) and then pull up another project and work on that instead.

Now, I am not the type of writer who can work simultaneously on multiple large projects, it’s just too much for me. I prefer to work on one large project (like Agency in the Hunger Games and then The Runic Saga after) and maybe some smaller projects such as my blogging posts. I cannot start another book until I have finished the old.

However, the idea to stop working on your major project but to keep writing is a fantastic idea! In doing so, you are giving your mind the break and distance it requires, but you are still writing and keeping your creativity flowing. If you are like me and you cannot work on several large projects at once, here are some practical ways where you can stop working, but keep writing:

  1. Blog Posts: If you are reading this post, odds are, you’re a blogger, author, or both. If you are a blogger, what better time to work on scheduling some blog posts than when you need distance from your book? (That is what I am doing right now!)
  2. Poetry: The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is the perfect outlet for spewing out writing. Now, I would suggest cleaning it up before you post it, but often times when we are frustrated by writer’s block or in need of distance, getting our emotions out through poetry can be a powerful thing.
  3. Free Writing/Journaling: Maybe you are so stuck/overwhelmed that both blog posts and poetry seem daunting, but you still want to write. That’s when I would suggest free writing or journaling. Write about literally anything, your day, your hopes, the color of the wall, your dream vacation, whatever, just keep those writing juices flowing.

What about you?

What do you do when you need distance from a larger project?

Happy Writing!

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Dear Aspiring Author

It has been quite some time since I have written a draft in WordPress. Some of you may recall, I disappeared right as the world was shutting down from COVID. Around the same time, I had my son and I’ve been pretty consumed by him ever since. I have been writing more lately, finally, and I hope to have more to share with you soon. Today, as a way to reintroduce myself, I’d love to share an interview I did with Penable which was featured in their Hall of Fame.

In this interview I was asked: “What advice would you give to any aspiring author?”

In short my answer was this: Have Patience . . . Have patience with your story and your characters. You cannot rush your writing because you are so eager to publish that you regret not allowing your writing to mature and improve. Have patience with yourself. You’re not going to hit your word count every day. Have patience waiting to hear back from publishers (mostly because we don’t have a choice on that one).

It was a fun experience and if you’re interested, you can read the full interview here: https://penable.net/2020/08/08/interview-with-special-author-kayla-ann/

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: RE-WRITE instead of Revise

*This is a tip that I first found on Pinterest and used when re-writing Agency in the Hunger Games. I am using this tip again with my current WIP.

Often times, when writers finish the first draft of their WIP, most jump straight into the editing phase. We can’t help it; we’re excited and already thinking about querying and sending out manuscripts, but if you do that, you are missing a HUGE step in the publishing process.

Here’s a piece of advice that changed my writing life entirely. When you finish your first draft, you should not go straight to editing. Instead you should write the first draft all over again from the beginning. Literally, pull up a blank document and rewrite your manuscript sentence by sentence.

IKnow It Sounds Crazy Hear Me Out GIF - IKnowItSoundsCrazy ...

Before you turn away in disgust, hear me out.

Why It Works:

When you have to rewrite (or retype) your manuscript, you will inherently be more open to removing unnecessary parts (because you’re not actually deleting anything) and you are far more likely to add more material and flush out your ideas now that you know how your story ends. You can add in more foreshadowing, more world building, more character depth, etc. Instead of having to go through your draft and figure out where to put those items, they come much more naturally through the rewrite.

My Results

I am currently using this technique to expand my Contemporary Fantasy Young Adult Fiction piece (80,000 Word Count in 10 Weeks Challenge). In my original draft at this point in the story (finished four years ago), I had written about 80 pages and 22,839 words. At the same point in the plot with my new draft, I have written 163 pages and 49,235 words. And that is AFTER completing removing entire scenes and chapters. Not only did I DOUBLE the amount of story, but I can say whole-heartedly that it is a BETTER story. It’s a lot of work to re-write an entire draft when you just want to move into the next phrase, but I can say that the result was worth it!

Not only did I greatly improve the quantity of my writing but, more importantly, I also improved the quality of my work.

Have you ever tried this technique before? Did it work for you?

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you enjoyed today’s writing tip, be sure to visit my page “Writing Tips” on my main menu and learn more tips and tricks! Have any writing questions? Leave them in the comments below!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Facing Writer’s Doubt

“Just let yourself be creative.”

These were the words of wisdom I received from my sister a couple of weeks ago.

In the midst of this 80,000 Word Count in 10 Weeks Challenge, some days have definitely been harder than others. Somedays I struggle with writer’s block and other days I face writer’s doubt. Writer’s Doubt, for me, is different than writer’s block. With Writer’s doubt, I can keep writing, I actually have a TON to write, but I doubt every. single. word.

I doubt whether or not it’s good, or if it’s portraying what I am trying to say, or if I personally even like my story at all anymore. I get into that mindset that I’ll never be as good as [insert author name here]. I compare and contrast, and in the weighing, I feel myself coming up short. 

I have been weighed. I have been measured.. And I have absolutely ...
It’s a fantastic movie, I had to include this line.

So what can I do when I find myself blocked by Writer’s Doubt?

Well, luckily for me, I have a sister who I can reach out to (who is also my Beta-Reader for this current book). She gave me some great encouragement that I want to share with anyone else that might be suffering from Writer’s Doubt.

“Look at every author who goes back and talks about their debut novel, years later . . . Give yourself a chance to be that author that can go back years later and discover how much you’ve learned . . . Just let yourself be creative.”

When you are struggling with Writer’s Doubt, stop comparing, stop contrasting, and remember to simply give yourself a chance.

Dont’ rob yourself of the chance to make mistakes, to be creative, and to try something new. Don’t rob yourself of the chance to simply create a first draft that does not have to be perfect; it just has to be.

Don’t rob yourself of the chance to create something amazing and spectacular because your fear or failure gets in your way. You don’t have to be perfect today. You don’t have to be [insert famous author name here] today. You just have to be you.

Give your writing a chance today to become something incredible in the future and keep writing.

Creative

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.