Writing Your Weakness

A few months ago, I wrote about endings.

Endings are my weakness. Well, they used to be my weakness, till I started focusing on them. Now they’re often much better and stronger than my beginnings. With practice, I’ve managed to evolve a stronger ending with decent pacing, and that doesn’t fall flat (most of the time. No one’s perfect.).

The point of this post isn’t actually about endings, though. It’s about knowing your weaknesses as a writer. Where do you fall short? I know my rough points. I am a teller instead of a shower (which is okay, but can be a weakness at times), and tend towards ambiguity.

In order to defeat these tendencies, I practice, and I ask other people for their opinions.

I like to imagine that this is my reader, right now.

Sometimes, when I write, I try to catch my problems ahead of time, but when it comes to a first draft, it’s going to need help anyway–so just writing it is far more important. You can do this, too. It’s relatively easy, and even easier if you have a thick skin to critique from another person.
  • Step one: Write your first draft. Don’t worry about style. Just get it all out on your laptop, computer, tablet, notebook, loose leaf paper, etc. Just write it all out until you can’t write any more.
  • Step two: If you do have a beta reader or editor, send it off to them and wait for their response. If you don’t, find someone. Preferably someone in the industry or someone who just loves to read.
  • Step three: Take their critique seriously, but don’t take it to heart. That’s the key ingredient to feedback. Understand that YOU do not suck. Your work does not suck (maybe it does but ignore that because who cares–suck is a matter of opinion, anyway). Your work needs work. Everyone’s does! Even Faulkner’s first drafts needed work. So put your ego aside and take it all in as things that will make you better.
  • Step four: Identify your weaknesses. This will help you with your next edit, draft, and even your next first draft.
  • Step five: Keep practicing, and repeat as needed.
Seriously, that’s all there is to it. Your biggest obstacle in this is you. You are the only one who can put aside your feelings and choose to learn. 
To this day, I enjoy it when someone edits my work. All they do is help me identify where I need to grow, and how I can turn the ideas in my head into something that other people will enjoy.
Don your thick skin and send that first draft to someone who can give you unflinching and honest feedback. Use it to enhance your writing and raise your awareness of your weaknesses so you can turn them into strengths.
I’m a writer and kind of foolish. If you enjoy absurdities and the occasional heartfelt post, follow me on Twitter. I’m also on Facebook.

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Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing?

This is a brief post this week about my personal journey to being published, and why I’ve avoided self-publishing to the point where I’m just about phobic of it.

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.
I’m more terrified of self-publishing than of this spider. But that’s just me.
Really, a person can get a great deal of success from self-publishing, and it is becoming a perfectly legitimate way to get your stories out to the public for consumption. The ingenious John Dies at the End by David Wong is self-published, and that means all the money went to him. No publisher, no agent, no editor, no other human being got in the way of himself and that sweet reward of food-granting nectar known as money.
But David Wong committed himself to excellent editing (or having someone excellent do it for him), constant self-promotion through Cracked, and the likely superhuman powers to make other people want to read his book.
So why won’t I do it? Because even though I’m a pretty damn good writer, I know that the David Wongs of the world are rare gems, and there are tons of self-published people out there who are struggling to make ends meet. David (Jason) had a great vehicle through Cracked for promotion, and that’s helpful. What I want is someone who can help me get into one of those great vehicles and then BOOM — I can promote the hell out of myself.
My journey is to do the traditional publishing route, and hopefully secure myself a literary agent. Agents, to me, are worth their cut, because a good agent will work his/her fingers to their stubby nubs to get you published. They have all the experience, strategy, and marketing knowledge to sell you, your manuscript, and get your message out to a wider audience.
Isn’t that what you want, anyway?
Whether you choose to self-publish, find an agent, or represent yourself to publishers, just be sure you follow through. Make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Keep moving forward, and don’t stop when you get a rejection. Don’t take it personally. Somewhere, there’s an agent or publisher out there who will like your stuff and give you a chance. If you keep working at it, that is.
I’ll let you know how it works for me when I get an agent for myself. Right now, I’m looking forward to October, when my short story comes out.