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Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #3



I'm doing something a little different on my blog today! I'm participating in the Fall 2016 Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! Please join in the fun!

You have arrived at Stop #3 in the hunt.

WHERE: The hunt begins with Stop #1 at Lisa Bergren’s site. The hunt is best viewed using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).

WHEN: The hunt begins Thursday 11/3 at noon, mountain time and ends on Sunday 11/6 at midnight. There is NO RUSH to complete this hunt—you have ALL WEEKEND. So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way!

HOW: Collect a clue (in RED) at each stop. Write them down as you go. Submit your entry for the grand prize at Stop #31 (back on Lisa Bergren’s site) by Sunday night (11/6) at midnight.

WHAT: Final prizes include $450 and over 90+ books. As a bonus, many authors are offering additional prizes at each of the stops!

Make sure you check out the bottom of this post for the rest of the information you need for your clue and to continue to the next blog in the scavenger hunt!

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My Special Scavenger Hunt Guest: Roseanna White


Today as part of the scavenger hunt, I'm hosting Roseanna White. She’s another one of the authors participating in all the fun. (You'll visit her blog on the next stop in the scavenger hunt!)

Roseanna pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two small children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. You can connect with her on Facebook and her Website.

Join me in welcoming Roseanna today!

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Writing a Character Like You

By Roseanna White 


When I started writing as a child, I fell into a predictable trap: writing characters too much like me. As I matured as a writer, I quickly realized that wouldn’t fly. How boring would it be if all I ever wrote were versions of myself? And so I’d for decades sworn off writing character with personalities like mine.

Until Ella came along in A Lady Unrivaled. Ella is more like me than any character I’ve written since I was 12. She’s optimistic. Brimming with hope. Always eager to believe the best of people. Who fully believes that many of life’s dark clouds could be dispelled if people greeted them with the sunshine of a smile, with faith that the Lord would bring joy again in the morning.

And who, ahem, has a remarkable ability to lose things. (Not that I ever make things vanish simply by touching them, nooooo. Not me. Now where’s my bookmark? And that oh-so-important document that I just put right there?)

During the editorial process, of course, Ella changed a bit, developed more. She became a little bit less me and a little bit more her own person. Still, I have to admit I was nervous to send Ella out into the world. Because if readers didn’t like her . . . did that mean they didn’t like me?

I doubt I’ll have another character so similar to me for many, many years. But for now, I’m so glad to have my full-of-sunshine Ella. My character who knows that God is always faithful, even when people aren’t. Who has suffered loss—and who has come to the conclusion that if we value life so highly we’ll mourn its passing for years, we also need to live it to its fullest every day.

And Ella taught me a few lessons too. That we don’t have to wait for adventure—we can go and find it in our own garden . . . so long as we’re not afraid to wander from the path. ;-)
You’ll have a chance to win a copy of A Lady Unrivaled at the next stop on Roseanna’s blog! To find out more about her book go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christianbook.com.

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NEXT STOP IN THE HUNT: Stop #4 is Roseanna White’s blog!

CLUE: who wins

BEFORE YOU GO: Please Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win my latest historical, Newton & Polly, which is based on the true story of John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace, and the love of his life Polly Catlett.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your favorite hymn?

P.S.: If you like audiobooks, stop by my group blog for another giveaway, a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of my books on Audible!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Reasons Your Plot Stalled



It's my privilege to host Janice Hardy here on my blog today. Janice is the author of several fantastic writing resources, including Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a series of self-guided workshops that help you turn your idea into a novel, and the just-released companion guide, the Planning Your Novel Workbook.


Today, Janice shares some insights on how our plots tend to stall. But she doesn’t just stop with common plot problems. She gives insightful tips and excellent questions we can ask to help us jump-start our stalled plots.

Join me in welcoming Janice to the blog!

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5 Reasons Your Plot Stalled

By Janice Hardy 


The plot is the engine of the story, and like any engine, it can stall. In most cases, the plot simply runs out of fuel and once you refill the story tank, the plot drives forward again. It's just a matter of figuring out which fuel your particular engine needs.

Maybe you're missing the goal (the common unleaded fuel of the story world), or there are no stakes, or no character motivation. The wrong characters might be filling the tank, or the protagonist is making the wrong choices. Refill the tank with the right mixture, and you'll be back on the road in no time.

Plot mechanics are pretty straightforward, so when a plot stalls, it's usually due to a small number of reasons. Let's take a look at the most common ones.

1. You Forgot What the Goal of the Scene (or the Book) Was

The lack of a scene goal is the number-one reason plots stall. There’s nothing for the protagonist to do to drive the plot forward. She doesn't want anything, isn't trying to stop anything, she's just living her day or performing random tasks that aren't leading to anything.

In some cases, the problem is bigger and the novel itself is lacking the goal. This is common with premises novels, where the idea isn't formed enough to create a solid plot, so there's nothing external for the protagonist to do. For example, a romance where the goal is to "find love again" is too vague to plot. It's the specifics of how the protagonist finds love, and the choices she makes to act in ways to achieve that goal that create the plot--such as, take up a hobby to meet potential partners.

How to restart the plot: Look at your scene and determine what the protagonist wants, and the reason that scene is in the novel. If you're not sure, ask:

• What does your protagonist want in the scene?
• How does this goal advance the plot to the next scene?
• What must be done to resolve the core conflict of the novel?
• What are the key steps to resolving the core conflict?
• Does the stalled scene contain one of those steps? Should it?

2. The Outcome of the Scene Doesn’t Matter

A lack of stakes is the second-most common problem with stalled plots. The protagonist has things to do and problems to solve, but the outcomes don't matter and don't affect the bigger story at all. Solving the problem gains the protagonist nothing, and failing to solve the problem loses her nothing. If you cut the scene, the overall novel wouldn't change.

How to restart the plot: Make the protagonist's actions have consequences. Resolving that problem and achieving that goal should matter in some way. Success wins her something important, or prevents her from losing something she cares about. Unsure of the stakes? Ask:

• What will happen to the protagonist is she fails?
• What doesn't the protagonist want to see happen?
• How will this scene affect either the characters or the story?
• How does failure here make things worse for the protagonist or people she cares about?

3. The Protagonist Has No Reason to Act

Sometimes your characters take a joyride with no destination in mind. Sure, they're driving all over the story, seeing the sights, having a grand time, but there's no reason for them to be in that car. The protagonist is doing what she's told, but she has no personal reason to do it--she's just taking turns as you call them out to her. Without a reason to act (the character motivation), there's nothing driving the scene goal.

How to restart the plot: Give the protagonist personal reasons to take on those scene and story goals (the stakes can help here. Low or no stakes almost always accompanies a lack of motivation). Ask:

• Why is the protagonist acting?
• Is there a personal reason or is it because the plot says so?
• What makes the protagonist care in this scene?
• Who might be hurt if the protagonist doesn't act or makes the wrong decision?

4. The Wrong Character is Acting

Backseat drivers, right? They think they know the best route to take to get anywhere, but they end up shouting directions and getting everybody lost. If the wrong character is the one driving the scene, your plot can end up down a path the story wasn't supposed to go in. It might be a small side trip, or a major detour. It might even be the right direction, but the wrong character is driving, so when the plot gets there, the next leg of the journey goes the wrong way.

How to restart the plot: Make sure the characters driving the pivotal scenes moving the main plot forward are the ones who will be resolving the core conflict in the end. Other characters might drive for a short leg of the trip (say, a subplot or two), but the main plot is driven by the main characters. If you're not sure who's behind the wheel, ask:

• Is someone other than the protagonist making the decisions in the scene?
• Does the scene goal belong to someone other than the protagonist?
• Do the stakes apply to someone other than the protagonist?
• Would the scene be stronger or go in a better direction if a different character was driving it?

5. It’s Got the Wrong Directions

Plots rely on character choices to move forward, so if the protagonist makes the wrong choice, the plot can stall. If the choice is too easy or doesn't affect the story or characters at all, it's not adding fuel to the plot engine. Choices should make things harder for the protagonist, and create uncertainty about what comes next. They move the plot forward by giving the protagonist the next goal.

How to restart the plot: Look at moments when the protagonist makes a choice. If there's no conflict to making that choice, or the choice isn't hard, then the decision won't matter. If the choice is obvious (such as, press the button everyone lives, don't press it and they all die), it's not really a choice.

Choices create changes and if nothing changes, the plot can't move forward. If you're not sure, ask:

• Is the choice a real choice or one where the "right" choice is obvious?
• Does the choice offer options that all have potential problems and stakes?
• Are there consequences associated with the choice?
• Does anything change based on this choice?

A stalled plot is annoying, but it's possible to restart it with the right fuel. Before long you'll have that engine sputtering back to life.

Has a stalled plot ever left you stranded? How did you get it moving again?


Win a 10-Page Critique From Janice Hardy
Three Books. Three Months. Three Chances to Win.

To celebrate the release of Janice's newest writing books, she's going on a three-month blog tour--and each month, one lucky winner will receive a 10-page critique from her.

It's easy to enter. Simply leave a comment and enter the drawing via Rafflecopter. One entry per blog, but you can enter on every stop on the tour. At the end of each month, Janice will randomly choose a winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of The Healing Wars trilogy and the Foundations of Fiction series, including Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, and the upcoming Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft. She's also the founder of the writing site, Fiction University.

For more advice and helpful writing tips, visit her at www.fiction-university.com or @Janice_Hardy.

3 Tips to Help Increase Writing Output


 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

One of the questions I’m asked a lot lately is how I manage to write as many books as I do. This year I have four books releasing. I’m on track to have four books release next year as well.

If all an author needed to do was write the first draft and send it off, four books would perhaps be an easy feat. But we all know that an author is tasked with the responsibility of writing more than just a first draft and being done.

I generally do at least four sets of edits per book including a final read-through to catch typos and last mistakes. With four books published in a year, that means a total of sixteen different edits.

In addition to the writing and editing, of course there’s also the marketing for four books. Sharing all that I do to market my books would take an entire post in itself!

Of course, there are a myriad of other details that we as authors must attend to on a daily basis: social media, emails with readers, communication with industry professionals, blog posts, etc. And if you’re especially insane like I am, you also add on other projects like getting reversion of audio rights on old books and using the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to indie publish on Audible.

With all of the work involved in editing and marketing books, how in the world can an author possibly write one book a year much less four?

As I thought about what I do to remain a prolific writer in the midst of all the other responsibilities of being an author, I realized that three things help me:

1. Have Iron-Clad Self-Discipline. 

I’m crazy self-disciplined. It doesn’t matter if the world is crashing down around me, I make myself write six days a week. Healthy or sick. Well-rested or tired. Happy or depressed. Calm or chaos. When I’m writing a first draft I make myself write without fail.

I also ignore the internet. It takes a lot of self-discipline not to respond to facebook messages or emails until later in the day. But I’ve learned that it’s all still waiting for me when I’m done with my day’s writing. My writing has to take priority over the other aspects of the job, because ultimately it’s my stories that keep me in business, not social media.

2. Set and Stick to Goals.

I usually determine how much time I have to write the book based on deadlines. For example if I have two months, then I break that down into how many words a week I need to write in order to finish the book in eight weeks.

If I have editing projects that need my attention while I’m in the middle of writing a book, I usually work on those after I finish my daily word count goals. The only time I set aside first draft goals completely is when I work on a content/macro edit. Otherwise, I stick to my lofty goals to the best of my human ability.

3. Open Creativity Through Writing Sprints. 

When I sit down to write for the day, I usually start by reading a page or two of what I wrote the day before. I edit a little bit but mostly the reading is to get myself back into the story flow.

Once I’m acclimated, I set mini deadlines for writing sprints. I use a sticky note and write down two things: how many words I plan to write and the time deadline. For example I may give myself the goal of 400 words in thirty minutes. Once I reach that thirty minutes, I give myself another mini-deadline.

What I find is that these writing sprints force me to ignore my internal editor and just write. Some days I do better at it than others, but overall such sprints force me to focus on the STORY rather than get side-tracked by smaller details that often hang writers up and slow them down.

What about YOU? How do you maintain a steady writing output? What helps you to keep writing? We would love to hear your tips and tricks!

6 Things I Tell Myself Once I’m Done Writing a Book


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
 
Recently I finished the first draft of a new book of a new series. Not counting the research, the book took me approximately eleven weeks to write.

Usually after I type out the last few words, I expel a deep breath of relief. And then I tell myself the following 6 things:

1. “Thank God for the editing process.” 

In fact, thank God for the MANY edits that the book will undergo in the months to come including my own self-editing as well as my publisher’s various levels of editing.

Even though I’ve written over 20 previous books, I wouldn’t ever think about skipping the editing process. I put every single one of my books through the most stringent and vigorous editing process. In fact, I’ve learned to be grateful for the feedback that can make my books better.

2. “Wow. I actually made it to the end.” 

As I was writing it, I felt the normal mid-book panic and asked myself questions like: Is the tension strong enough to keep readers' attention? Where is this story taking me? Will I be able to wrap up the plot believably? 

I admit. I second-guess myself and my writing ability with almost every book. So I feel satisfied at the end when somehow I manage to land the book at the destination without too much turbulence.

3. “Don’t get too attached to the words.” 

After all, they’re just words. Words. Sentences. Paragraphs. As much as I love my book, I will go back through the document and ruthlessly eliminate some of the prose that I labored and sweat over.

To make the process slightly less brutal, I’ll open up a new, blank document and save those eliminated sections there. Not that I’ve ever used any of the eliminated words again. But knowing that my hard work isn’t totally wiped out makes the process of cutting easier.

4. “Whew! It’s a relief to finish another book.” 

I love being in first draft writing mode. I love playing the roles of my characters and living out their stories.

But those 10-12 weeks of living in another world get a little intense. I push myself hard with daily word count goals, and I’m very strict about getting in my “words” for the day.

That means I sacrifice other things (like free time!) during the weeks I’m writing the first draft. While I’m emotionally and physically drained after I finish climbing Manuscript Everest, there’s also a sweet sense of accomplishment.

5. “I hope readers like it.”

I always write the books I love to read. I figure why write anything else?

However, various readers come into my books with differing expectations. I’ve long since realized that I can’t please everyone with every book. But I do hope that each book hits the sweet spot for the majority of my readers. And so at the end of every book, I sit back and ask myself what things about the story will or won’t please my readers.

6. “It’s time to put the baby to bed.” 

In other words, I need to stick my book in a virtual folder, step away, and say goodnight to it. I need to let it sit there untouched for a while (weeks if not a few months).

After time away, when I finally go back to it for my first round of self-editing, I’m not so in-love with it anymore and able to approach it more objectively. I’m able to see issues and flaws more clearly and also able to start the hard work of editing with more enthusiasm.

What about YOU? How do you feel after you finish writing a book?

Can Traditional and Indie Publication Live as Friendly Neighbors?


 

 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

This year in 2016, I have FOUR books slated for publication. Three of them are being published through three different publishers:

Undaunted Hope, a historical romance through Bethany House Publishers (Jan. 1)

A Daring Sacrifice, a young adult medieval romance through Harper Collins (Mar. 1)

Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace, a historical through Random House (Oct. 1)

I’m super thrilled about all three of the books. While each of them targets a slightly different audience, my readers seem to be enjoying them regardless of the differences.

So far, I’ve had a very positive experience working with traditional publishers. I’ve learned a LOT about the ins and outs of how the whole process of publication works and varies between houses.

Since I’m in a super busy life stage (raising 5 kids), having a traditional publisher’s help with cover designing, editing, and marketing has really freed up my time to focus on writing. To be completely honest, I appreciate being able to hand something over to my publishers and know that the project is in good hands. It takes a great deal of stress off me.

Not only that, but working with a variety of traditional publishers has helped to get my books in front of different readers. Each of my publishers has different marketing strategies which has allowed my books a wider audience than if I’d attempted to publish them on my own. I’ve also appreciated the relative ease of getting into brick and mortar stores, libraries/library conferences, foreign print, large print editions, wide-scale blogger and reviewer programs, and many other venues.

However, as beneficial as traditional publication has been for my writing career, I’ve been itching to try my hand at indie publishing. I’ve heard so many positive things about it, that I wanted to experience it for myself.

So, this year, I’m dipping my toes into the self-publishing waters. I’m releasing a historical romance, Forever Safe, on June 1. This particular book is the fourth book in my Beacons of Hope lighthouse series published by Bethany House. When I originally brought up the idea of doing a fourth book to my publisher, they wanted me to move in a different direction with another series.


Since I already had an idea for a fourth lighthouse book, I brainstormed with my agent and decided that this might be a good opportunity for me to do something independently. So over the past months, I’ve been able to experience “the other side of the fence” as I’ve been preparing my book for indie publication. It’s been interesting and I still have a lot to learn.

Obviously, I want this fourth book in the series to be of the same quality and caliber as the first three. Fortunately I found a fantastic cover designer (Lynnette Bonner of Indie Cover Design) who was able to match the quality of my previous books (even down to the font). I also put the book through the same rigorous editing process—having content, line, and copy edits.

Even with all of the top-notch help, I have to admit, I haven’t particularly liked the feeling that everything now rests on my shoulders, and that I’m responsible for every tiny detail—things I never had to worry about before. In fact, it stresses me out to think about disappointing my readers in any way.

Friends who have been indie publishing for a while and who are pros at it, have reassured me that the process does get easier and less stressful. So I take hope in that! But for now, it’s been a lot of work and has caused me some sleepless nights.

Will I indie publish again? Probably. I love that I got to write a story that I really wanted to tell and now get to share it with readers. And yes, indie publishing has lots of financial and control benefits.

But going through the do-it-yourself process also reminds me not to forget all of the good things that traditional publication can still offer authors. All too often traditional publication gets blamed and bashed and bad-mouthed. No, it’s not always rosy. I’ve experienced my share of frustrations and problems with traditional publication too.

But there are definite downsides with indie publishing as well, stress, costs, details, and pressure that come with the package. And if I were a newer author without an established readership, I'd wonder how I'd ever get noticed among all of the other new authors out there. The competition is fierce and it's difficult to stand out among the ever-growing population of indie authors. It can be done (we've all seen indie authors who've risen to the top). But often (not always!) debut authors can benefit from having a publisher give them a boost.

From one who has experienced both sides of the fence, I see that there is definitely a place for both and that they can live as friendly, helpful neighbors.

How about YOU?  Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence (or your side)? Or do you think that there is a place for both indie and traditional publication?

The Critical Importance of Crafting a Strong Opening


 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I admit. I always have a hard time figuring out my openings.

Even with the manuscript I’m currently working on, I labored long and hard to figure out the best spot to start my story. In fact, I’ve struggled to pick the perfect opener with each book I’ve written. And even after all my agonizing, I still don’t always nail my openings.

Finding the right opening isn’t anything writers should leave to chance. Sometimes the first page, even the first paragraph, is all the time readers will give us.

If we don’t grip readers with our story from the start, they’re likely to move on to something that will grab them. This is especially true in the online age with the ease of previewing the first chapter before making a commitment to buy a book.

I almost always read the first couple of paragraphs online before deciding to buy a book. I figure if the first page doesn’t capture my attention, then the rest of the book probably won’t either. Maybe that’s not true. But that’s the way most of us operate.

Yes, the struggle to find the perfect opening is normal for writers. Dare I go so far as to say if we’re not struggling with our openings, then we’re likely not giving it enough effort?

So what can we do to help us in our quest to craft a gripping first scene?

Here are three things to consider:

1. Find a life-changing DISTURBANCE.

Look for an incident that will push your character out of her comfortable life into a new problem or situation that will ultimately change her life. The disturbance is the start of something that won't leave her the same so that by the end of the book she's a different person in some way.

It’s kind of like our character is walking along a normal everyday path. But then we step in, hit them, and knock them onto a path that they didn’t expect, want, or choose.

It’s not always easy for us to locate the moment of disturbance, especially if we want that spot to be unique and fresh and not clich├ęd. We may have dig deeper, think harder, and really push ourselves to brainstorm for an event or happening that moves our character out of the ordinary and at the same time hooks our readers.

2. Start with immediate TENSION and CONFLICT.

Once we have an initial disturbance, then we need to plunge our characters into the heart of the action. We can’t spend time setting up the story and filling our readers in on how our characters got to where they’re at.

Instead we need to drop our characters onto the page into the middle of immediate conflict and assume the reader will catch on to what’s going on eventually. We can always go back and weave in important story details later if we need to clarify setting or backstory. But usually the reader figures out what’s happening without us having to spell it all out for them.

3. Use a PROLOGUE sparingly.

When I was first querying my debut book, The Preacher’s Bride, I had a prologue. It was an exciting prologue (I thought!). But it wasn’t really necessary for the story. Truthfully, it wasn’t until I cut the prologue that industry professionals started showing an interest in the book.

The lesson I learned was that most readers (including agents and editors) don’t want to wade through a prologue (which is often just an excuse to fit in backstory).

So I don’t write prologues anymore. I’m not saying they’re bad or wrong or unnecessary. But I think we should closely evaluate if one is necessary by asking ourselves a few questions: Can the information in my prologue be woven into the story at a later point? Is it essential to understanding the story? Will it truly hook readers into wanting to keep reading? (Because remember, we only have a page or two to grab them before they make a decision to either read further or move on.)

If I have a scene that needs to happen before the big disturbance moment, then I usually label it as Chapter One and treat it just like a regular chapter, giving it a strong opening hook, immediate conflict, and the same page-turning quality I would with any other chapter.

My final thoughts: When I finish my first draft, I always go back and re-evaluate my opening. Sometimes I end up rewriting part or even all of it because the hindsight of finishing the story gives me new or better ideas for a stronger opening.

What about YOU? Do you judge a book by its opening? How long do you read before setting aside a book?

The Love-Hate Relationship Writers Have With Their Manuscripts


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Recently in a radio interview, the host made a comment about how hard it must be after a book is published to part ways with the characters and story that I've grown to love. He asked me how I handle that. The question made me pause for an instant.

Yes, I do fall in love with my book, but only while I'm writing the first draft. I usually get super excited about the way everything comes together. I put my heroine in deadly trouble and love when I'm able to figure out how to get her out of a deep dark black hole believably. I love when I develop those tricky character arcs so that my hero and heroine grow emotionally and spiritually, but are still imperfect. And I even love when I'm able use symbolism throughout, wrap up the romance sweetly, and find perfect metaphors and similes for descriptions.

However, I know the love I’m feeling for my story won’t last. After writing the first draft, I'll edit the book at least four times if (of varying levels of editing) if not more. During all of those edits, I’ll grow increasingly more critical. My love for the manuscript will continue to diminish. Then finally I'll turn the book in to my publisher for the very last time. At that point, I’ll loathe the book. And seriously consider ripping it up and throwing it away.

Yes. This happens every time. I fall madly in love with my book and think it’s the best thing I ever wrote, but then I gradually fall out of love and think it’s the worst thing in the world. As much as I wish I could avoid the painful swing of emotions, I’m coming to realize it’s normal, even helpful.

Writers need to fall in love with their stories during the first draft.

Our creativity needs freedom during the first draft. Sure, I carefully plot out my book. I’m intentional with themes, character development, and story pacing. I even challenge myself with each new book to focus on growing in a particular area.

But . . . during the writing process, I delve deeply into my imaginary world. I ignore my internal editor. I give the story the freedom to grow and become its own entity. I give my characters permission to change and develop. And I don’t allow myself to be critical of my book in any way, shape, or form. I don’t compare myself to others.

I focus on my story. I let myself only see the good and the positive. I relish in it. I rarely experience writer's block because during the first draft, I keep the mental red pen locked away. I write uninhibited, letting the words flow without stopping to critique anything.

But after the first draft, writers need to fall out of love with their books.

That initial blindness to our story’s faults and problems serves us well during first draft creativity. But when we reach the editing stage, it’s time to pull out the guns and start shooting holes in our work.

We need to open our eyes wide to our faults, the areas where we’re weak, the many problems our stories will have. At this stage, we need to take off the protective, rose-colored glasses and see our work in all its nakedness.

We’ll do ourselves a favor to put our work under the intense scrutiny of our own self-editing, the eagle-eyes of a critique partners, and any other outside help we can get (contest feedback, freelance editors, beta readers, etc.).

We should begin to feel the pain of having our work ripped apart. And if we don’t feel pain, we’re probably not being honest enough with the quality of our work. At this point, it’s perfectly normal to grow so critical that we loathe our work. It’s then, when we ache that we can use the negative energy to push us to work harder to get our stories even better.

Problems arise when we get the love-hate relationship in the wrong order.

During the first draft, if we fail to fall in love and instead turn on the inner critic, we’ll risk a number of problems: writer’s block, word flow issues, slower speed of writing, lack of motivation, etc. We could even risk losing out on the joy of the writing process itself.

During the editing, if we fail to fall out of love and instead see our work too highly, we’ll risk a number of problems: we won’t be able to evaluate our work critically enough, we might reject hard feedback from others, we could even become embittered by a writing industry that we deem as “unfair” or too “limited.”

My Summary: Allow ourselves to fall madly in love with our first drafts. That’s important to the creative flow. But then make sure we put an end to the love-affair during the editing. That’s equally important to the process of writing.

What do you think? Have you ever gone through the love-hate relationship with one of your books? Have you ever gotten the love-hate relationship in the wrong order?
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