Dramaquill's All Things Writing

December 8, 2014

I didn’t finish Nanowrimo – am I a failure?

First of all, congratulations to all those writers who conquered and won the Nanowrimo 50,000 word challenge.  I salute you!

I chose a WIP (“Summer at Birch Beach”) this year.  I had about two thirds of it written in a very rough draft.  I thought I would use Nano to not only finish the rough draft but also begin working on an amazing revision.  After the month was up, I would have a new manuscript to shop around.  Needless to say, after about a week, and 8859 words, my Nano writing got detailed.

Since I didn’t finish Nano, am I a failure?  If you didn’t finish, are you?

Let’s look at what I did accomplish during November:

  • Secured a contract with a new publisher for my suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”
  • Finished the second act of a full length melodrama play for my acting class
  • Wrote lyrics, music and accompaniment for two original songs for the melodrama
  • Started final revisions on my sequel, “Amorous Obsession”
  • Wrote a synopsis for the back of the print version of my book
  • Wrote a query letter for my sequel

I may not have managed the 50,000 word goal on “Summer at Birch Beach” but I wrote every day.  The melodrama script had to be finished by December 1st so the students could begin learning their lines, blocking scenes and singing new songs.  I had to do a small revision for my new publisher so that I could get my book up before Christmas.  And now that my suspense novel is available again, that inspired me to work on the sequel.

So…I did NOT win Nanowrimo.

But I did win the writing battle.

If you didn’t complete the 50,000 word journey of Nanowrimo this year, you aren’t a failure.  Just signing up and giving it a try deserves a high five.  You did write.  You do have a word count.  Now…keep going!  It will pay off.

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die” in ebook Kindle format OR in print, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Jacqueline-McMahon/dp/1987854012/ref=asap_B0056TVHO8_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418047723&sr=1-1

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June 10, 2008

Pros and Cons of Critique Groups

Being a writer can be a very lonely profession. For some, this isolation becomes a real deterrent; preventing them from achieving any real kind of success.  Critique groups

provide a wonderful lifeline, especially for the newer writer.  But what exactly is a

critique group?

 

Before the internet, critique groups consisted of individuals living in similar geographic locations who desired to connect with others for support, networking and feedback.  Geographically, the internet has opened the door for writers from all around the globe. Online critique groups enjoy membership from a wide variety of places.

 

When making the decision to join a critique group, whether online or in your local community, writers should consider the following in their research:

 

1.  What do you want to get out of belonging to the group?

 

2.  How much time will participation take?

 

3.  What are the goals of the group?

 

4.  Is the group genre-specific or general writing?  (Know which you’re looking for

     when investigating potential critique groups.)

 

5.  How big is the group?  (More than 10 participants is often too large a group.)

 

Obviously newer writers can receive great benefits from participation, but many seasoned professionals consider critique groups a continuously useful tool as they prepare and submit manuscripts.

 

As with anything, there are always pros and cons. Let’s take a look at these as they apply to critique groups.

 

PROS:

 

1.  Receive feedback on everything from grammar and style to character, plot, tone, 

     POV and much more.  Critique groups are a great place to test out new works and

     first drafts as well as fine tuning a manuscript before sending it out.

   

2.  Provides a place for encouragement and interaction with other writers. 

   

3.  Critiquing the work of others is a great way to become a better editor of your own

     work.

 

4.   Writers are exposed to each other’s styles and unique voices.

 

5.  Although the critiques are the focus of the group, network opportunities also exist

    in everything from leads on contests to information about publishers and agents as

    well as wisdom from those with experience in different areas of the business.

   

6.  The submission deadline, usually once per week, is often the nudge many writers

     need to continue to produce new work or stay with a longer project (like a novel).

 

7.  Writers can easily miss small errors in their editing but the critique group offers

     several pairs of eyes who can spot these mistakes.

 

Critique groups, then, can be a great place to test out new works or give final drafts one last tweak before sending them out.

 

CONS:

 

1.  Is it safe to show your work to strangers?  (Although this can be of concern, the

     many writers surveyed for this post agree that critique groups are quite safe.)

    

2.  Harsh critiques can be discouraging.  (Remember, you must decide if the

     criticism is constructive and whether or not you choose to use the advice given is

    is always up to you.)

 

3.  The time it takes to critique the work of others can become time away from your

     own writing.           

 

It is apparent that the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to critique groups.

Do your research.  Before you join any group, make sure that they meet your needs so that belonging to a critique group can be a helpful tool in your ongoing quest to become a better writer. 

March 4, 2008

Sidetracked

It’s happened to all writers at one time or another, from the newbie to the seasoned author.  You’re working away at your latest project and bam…life hits you with circumstances that won’t be ignored.

So what about your writing?

Well, if you’ve got a deadline and it’s looming close, don’t disappoint your editor by missing it.  If at all possible, get the assignment finished.  However, if the circumstances won’t allow it, then contact your editor immediately and explain the situation.  But…don’t make this a habit.  If life is always getting in the way of your deadlines, your career will be short lived.

But what if it’s not anything monumental?  What if it’s just life getting in the way?

That’s what I call getting sidetracked.

Sometimes we all get busy…too busy.  Sometimes life throws us a monkey wrench (overtime at work/visiting relatives/not enough sleep) but if we really want to be taken seriously as writers, we have to find ways to keep on track no matter what comes our way.

This past week I’ve been at a music festival with several of the singers from our studio.  Most days I had to be there from early morning until around nine in the evening.  I knew this would be a challenge as far as keeping on track with my writing.

Here are a few things I did to help get through this “crunch” time.  Maybe some of them are tools you already use or maybe they’ll give you some new ideas.

1.     Try to work ahead on a project since you know you won’t have
        much time for a few days.  (I wrote a new chapter for my novel
        revision two days before my schedule got crazy.)

2.     Take a notebook with you and jot down ideas or write even a
        paragraph or two whenever you get even a short break. (I did
        this instead of socializing on the breaks.)

3.     Force yourself to get up even 30 minutes earlier and use that
        time to write or revise.

4.     Stay up 30 minutes later and promise yourself to accomplish
        something before you head to bed (This is tough if you’re really
        tired so for many, early mornings work best.)

5.     Whenever you’re driving, use a portable recording device to keep
         track of any thoughts about your project, or keep a what to do
         list of things for the next day.

6.     Eat well and get enough rest so that you stay healthy.  Also, if you
        are sleep deprived, it’s much harder to be creative.

7.      Know that this glitch in your regular writing routine won’t last
         forever and make plans to work a little harder/longer as soon as
         you can.

8.     Don’t get discouraged if you have abandoned your project for a
        few days.  Get back on track as soon as you can.

Life can be full of sidetracks.  Don’t let your writing take a backseat to all of them.  Know when you really have no choice and when you just have to be flexible and adjust your schedule.

When our performing arts students begin preparing for an audition or a performance, I always ask them, “How badly do you want it?” whenever they get sidetracked.

You say you’re a writer?

How badly do you want it?

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