This post is an ongoing compilation of thoughts and information I gather from reading and communicating with writers on writing, community, and getting published.
First, the obvious. Writers are also readers, so keep reading. It is the best education for a writer.
Your writing, vocabulary, and structure will improve with every book you read. If you want to be a great writer, read great writers. It wouldn’t hurt to join Goodreads and find some of the latest books out in your genre for inspiration.
Secondly, the most important and most repeated advice I have received is to write every day.
Becoming a professional writer takes tenacity. You can’t be a writer without writing. I have see the improvement in my writing style and clarity by writing blog posts and working on my book for several years. We all can continually improve.
Being forced to write, edit, and improve my own work while reading great writers reveals bad habits and areas that need improvement. For instance, I had to get past the bad habit of using passive voice.
EX: In active voice I would write, The girl ate breakfast. In passive voice I would write Breakfast was eaten by the girl. (I still do it and work on it constantly!)
While writing, I look up the meanings of words, so that my vocabulary improves and I use more precise language.
I search synonyms and antonyms. Lately, I have also been researching ideas about theme and character, so continual education plays a part too.
In addition to writing every day, make it a habit to read articles on writing and your profession.
Also read books on the craft of writing.
My current favorite is by Weiland. It is about structure. I got stuck after my first fifty pages and this book helped me get started again.
Whatever level of writer you are currently, there is always room for improvement. Honing our skills is the key to our best work.
There are incredible resources for today’s writer. Check out websites. Up your education game.
I enjoy the blog Women Writers Womens Books and find great articles there written by authors, agents, publishers etc. Great site!.
Barbara Taylor Bradford’s advice in a Q and A interview from Women Writers Women’s Books Tell ” who-where when what-how,” and “ADD WHY.”
If you are writing and have produced a work in progress (WIP), then read it out loud.
You will be aware of problems with language and rhythm, over used words, and other writing faux pas. This is something I do, and I was reminded of its importance this morning when reading advice from Stephanie Bretherton.
Consider online writing courses if you are stuck or just starting out. Anything to get you writing, editing, and improving.
Connect with your community.
I have gained some much needed understanding of the writing and publishing process from following published authors on Twitter and Goodreads.
Writers benefit from being a part of a community of writers. Meet other writers. Communicate with other writers. Interact through workshops and social media. Get on twitter and other social media to read and discuss.
You can follow me on Twitter @BarefootInspire .
Explore the different writing genres and know what your genre is, so that you can connect with authors and readers in your genre.
My work is a Memoir. You write fiction? #F. Is it Young Adult #YA, Science Fiction #SF, or neither? Maybe Romance?
Do some research on genre and find your hashtag, so you can find other authors on twitter or other social media.
Look for writers in your genre and get involved, it will benefit your writing, your search for representation, and your brand.
Read authors who write in your genre.
Connecting with other writers gives you a knowledge base of the profession, a working author/agent/publisher/print vocabulary. It helps a writer to know the writing world and understand the process.
Use social media to connect with readers, writers, mentors, authors, agents, and publishers.
Work on it daily. You are creating your brand and a base of readers.
On Getting Published
Years ago, I read that professionals in the writing business encourage writers to both write daily and finish a manuscript, so you have a finished product to pitch.
So, first finish your #WIP (Work In Progress). Edit it, polish it, then look for representation.
Finding an agent and drafting query letters are an important part of the publishing search.
Start by creating a good description of your work. Treat it as a writing assignment and edit and improve your description.
A query letter is a cover letter that accompanies your manuscript or first few Chapters when sent to an literary agent.
Basically it introduces and describes your work, its genre, and theme. It is your works resume.
What I gleaned from her Q and A was to focus on the submission not your life story or chit chat. Stay on topic. Be interesting. Include your hook or unique approach. Your job is to market your book not yourself.
Your query letter should be grammatically correct, without errors, and professional. Use spell check. Read it aloud to someone else.
A good resource for Query Letters and questions concerning how to write them is the blog Query Shark .
nybookeditors.com suggests a one page letter of about 300 words. See this article for questions on format and contents.
Do some research on query letters. It is a vital part of a submission.
Also, create a verbal or written pitch for finished work that is a few sentences long.
Create and practice a pitch that is quick, to the point, and includes title, genre, your hook, and the basic plot or idea.
Put one together so that you can describe your work and sell your book with just a few sentences.
Keep it in your phone or an index card and review it often, so you know it. The exercise will help you hone in on things you need to improve or change.
Pitch tweets or wars are a new Twitter phenomena where writers pitch their books in a tweet.
Do some research and work on that coherent message.
I update as I find information or learn anything new and exciting, so drop in and we can hone our brands and become better writers.
Barefoot and writing,