Launching was the right word—not: methodical, well planned, orderly, logical, or designed. Previously, the total summation of my writing was memos, business reports, and travel journals which contained observations of people, humorous encounters, and a little about the destination. Excerpt from Un-Launching a Writing Career.
The first year of my writing career started out as great fun. Later in the year, I began an unwelcome process of re-writing portions of books brought on by charging ahead of my skills.
Among friends in golf, a mulligan is typically an unscored extra drive because of a disappointing ball flight. The first ball has sliced, or hooked, so far out of bounds that it lands off the course, or maybe it dribbled across the ground and stopped twenty yards up the fairway.
At times, a writing mulligan would be nice. The following is my writing mulligan. If I began to write today or offered advice to a new writer, this would be my recommendation.
Read, read, read . . . Anything in a favorite genre, books by favorite authors, how-to books on writing craft, articles about successful authors, blogs on writing, genre e-zines, etc. And then, on that morning when the desire to write is driving the soul, it’s time to replace some of the reading with writing. Reading needs to be part of the routine, forever.
Practice, practice, practice . . . Write what’s on your mind—short stories, a journal, articles, paragraphs and single pages to file for later use, the church bulletin, fiction, non-fiction, etc. Have favorite writings critiqued by family, friends, an editor, college literature majors, or your high school English teacher. You might have to pay for some of the reviews. No word limit/target. When the quality of the work, and the feedback make you comfortable, it’s time for the next step. One caution: be sure to use family members and friends that will provide honest feedback. Okay, two cautions, you must be open minded about the feedback—the reader is always right!
Take a writing class . . . Learn how to outline books, develop a writing style, keep a writing journal, improve your craft, develop characters, overcome writer’s block, improve readability, work with publishers, etc. Hopefully, critiquing will be part of the class or a separate class. If not, start a group that meets for coffee between classes.
Using your preferred process, outline the entire book and combine it with everything you have learned to write the best first chapter possible. Entertainment, craft, and quality are important! Take the time to do it right—if needed, twenty drafts are okay. When you are happy with the first chapter, place it in a drawer for a few weeks.
While the first chapter is curing, find the nit-pickiest reviewer(s) possible: someone that can evaluate your writing style, plot, grammar, content, sale-ability, etc. It’s possible the reviewer may want three chapters, and it may require a couple of people to provide a well-rounded evaluation. This process will probably require payment.
Blow the dust off, then proofread it until your inner voice says, “Give it to the reviewer already.”
While the chapter is being scrutinized, prepare for the evaluation. An editor told me that less than 3% of books initially pass editorial review. Read the evaluation without judgment. Put the evaluation and partial manuscript in a drawer for up to two weeks, and then with an open mind evaluate the evaluation. Compare your writing to published authors. Determine if the comments are technical or entertainment related. The technical problems can be corrected by hiring an expert, attending night school, hiring a tutor, etc.
At this point, there is enough information, review, skill, and feedback to make an informed decision.
Robert Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken.” Much like Frost’s decision, there is a moment of truth for writers. Is the feedback promising? Is the desire to write filling your soul? If you don’t care about the long days, lonely work, or the hours to be spent agonizing over three words, then you are a writer.
“The Road Not Taken,” by ROBERT FROST (click here)
Also check out Cristian Mihai blog post “Rules, Rules, Rules” at cm.net/2013/04/26/rules-rules-rules/
Leo N. Ardo: – I am a thirty-five year veteran of small business, and author of the Jon Hersey – Industrial Spy series. I enjoy photography, fly fishing, biking, and embellishing our travel experiences in journals titled Exaggerated Tales of an Ordinary Man.
We call Utah and Wyoming home.
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Hoping life blesses you with good stories!
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