Make Every Word Count

Ever have a day when, as a writer, you just don’t feel like writing? Well of course you have. What a silly question!

Every writer has those days. Sometimes that old friend, Writer’s Block, comes to visit and there’s no way to get rid of him (or her, if I must be politically correct.) And when we do get rid of him/her, him/her always seems to find his/her way back again at another time, and we must deal with the pest time and again.

I mentioned before that one way to get around writer’s block is to change direction in whatever you are working on, or work on something totally different or new or fun or crazy. Our brains need a little vacation now and then just like our bodies.

Besides dealing with the blank page and not knowing what to write, there are times when the process seems terribly slow. We write a sentence and it’s not right. We delete it. We write again. Still not right. And that can go on for a long time.

Sometimes we get involved in editing what we’ve written previously, and that can take up quite a bit of time, but that’s okay. That’s writing. It’s polishing and perfecting, and that’s something that we all need to do.

Then there are those writers who say they have to write x number of words per day or they don’t feel as if they have accomplished anything. I tried that once. I set a number that I thought seemed realistic. Sometimes I hit my target. Sometimes I missed big time, and when that happened I felt bad, as if I had failed in some way. It didn’t work for me, so I changed my standard.

I have had days when I sat down to work on my latest novel and I couldn’t crank out more than a few sentences, either because I was not motivated or I was tired or didn’t feel good, whatever. But I did get those few sentences down on paper and that did move the story along, albeit not very far.

It seems to me that it is far more important to make whatever you write the best you can do on that particular day. Be satisfied with your work, whether it’s ten words or 1,000. Ten great words can be so much more valuable that just trying to hit a target number.

One of the best books I’ve ever read on writing is “Make Every Word Count” by Gary Provost. It’s still in print and I highly recommend it. In fact, I think I’m going to read it again. It can only help.

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The consortium

It’s all about networking….

Many years ago, I was a struggling freelance writer. Wait, I’m still a struggling freelance writer. I can prove it by showing you the rejections I just received this the past week.

Years ago I was working in the newsroom of a city newspaper. It was a fast paced, hectic job, and I learned a lot working there, especially in fact checking and editing.  I loved it, but there came a time when I knew I wanted to be more of a writer, less of a gofer.

I’d already had some success in getting published, mostly in equine publications because horses were my passion. But I wanted more bylines, and so I quit the newspaper business and established my own freelance writing and editing company. To say I struggled along is to put it mildly. But with a lot of hard work, research, and perfecting of ideas and articles, I can truthfully say that I made that dream come true, but I was not alone.

I had support from my husband and family, and there were a couple of magazine editors who liked my work, but because writing can often be a lonely business, I needed the companionship of other writers who understood this life.

There are plenty of writer support groups and classes at schools, libraries and community centers. The people who gather for these want help and guidance in writing and publishing. They want to learn. They also want someone to critique their work. That’s all commendable, but it was not what I wanted. I wanted to sit down with a group of working writers and talk about the job of turning words into profit.

I contacted some of my writing friends and the Writer’s Coffee Consortium was born in my town. It has been fifteen years or more, and that group still meets once a month in a local coffee shop to share their successes and failures, and to encourage each other to keep on writing. And every gathering produces a lot of laughter as we share our stories.

In our group, we don’t read each other’s material until it is published, because none of us wants to pass judgement on another’s writing style, but we have always welcomed fledgling writers into the group to support and encourage them. Some don’t come back, but many have stayed with the group and are published today.

There are lots of ways to network. Getting together with a group of people who share a common interest is one way, and an important one. We all need moral support in what we do. So, find a group, club, class that you feel will help you in your endeavors, but make sure it fits your needs and expectations.

Don’t expect too much from a group. Do you want people to read and critique your writing? To be truthful, it’s difficult to find someone who will honestly tell you if they don’t like what you have written. No one wants to discourage you or hurt your feelings. Those in a writing group won’t do it. A writing instructor will. An editor will. The best thing you can hope for in a writers group is to know that you are not alone in the great abyss of the publishing world.