So happy to have author Rebecca Waters guest blogging again. This time, she isn’t here as a novelist. She’s discussing writing advice from her book The E’s of Writing. Good to have you back, Rebecca!
Exercising the Writing Muscle
There is a difference between being a writer and being an author. Writers may write as a hobby or as a therapeutic measure. The casual writer may share his or her compositions with family or friends. An author publishes. An author expects a much wider audience.
It is an important distinction. If you are seeking to be a published author, you need to view your musings as a business instead of a hobby. And while, yes, I recognize that yours may be a “non-profit” business by choice or not by choice in the beginning, it is a business.
A business offers a product or service. I often meet people who want to talk about the book they have in mind. But they don’t write. They don’t have a product to market. That movie based on the best seller they are certain they could write will never happen because they don’t take the time to sit down and do it.
In the handbook, The E’s of Writing, I outline five healthy practices or habits for the soon-to-be-published author. The first of these “E’s” is Exercise. To get you started, I am sharing a brief description here of three exercises to build your writing muscle. These three you can start doing today. Note, to be effective, you need to exercise your writing muscle at least four days a week.
Think of it as training to be a world class weight lifter. In training a lifter starts with small weights to build those muscles needed to lift more. The same is true in becoming an author. You must exercise your writing muscle. In the process, you will create a product worth marketing; Words worth publishing.
Start with these three exercises:
- Use writing prompts. One way to warm-up or get your writing brain in gear each writing day is to use a prompt. Write for a sustained ten to fifteen minute interval. You can download prompts, start with a book of quotes, or write about a calendar photo. One author I know writes her way through the alphabet, choosing a word for each letter of the alphabet and crafting a story around the word. When she finishes with Z, she starts back at A. I’ve seen bloggers take on a similar challenge.
- Craft a query letter. This exercise is particularly helpful if you want to write non-fiction. You can start to build your audience by writing for a magazine or journal. Research a topic, outline the main points of the article and craft a letter proposing the piece to a magazine or journal you think would find your work interesting. If you’ve never written a query letter before, you may need to do a bit of online research to see what an editor needs from you. And if the editor offers you a contract to write the piece, you’ve already done the research!
- Writing contests. Every year journals, editors, agents, and conferences offer writing contests. I encourage new writers to download the guidelines and spend their exercise time working on an entry. Judges will often offer feedback to you to help you improve your writing. Some may require you to attend the conference for them to even read your entry, but the exercise of following the guidelines, crafting a submission, proofreading, editing, and revising helps build your writing muscle. And if you are interested in crafting a novel, one “contest” you may find challenging is NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. One month to draft a novel. Now that is heavy lifting!
Ready, Set, Go! Exercise that writing muscle!
I like writing prompts, which is why I offer Monday Sparks once a week. Thank you for describing those three writing exercises. Great ways to stay in creative shape.
A writer writes. An author publishes. If you want to be a successful writer you need to first learn to exercise the writing muscle, learn to self-edit, seek to educate yourself about writing, engage with others in the writing community, and regularly engage in self-evaluation. Successful writers become published authors when they turn these practices into highly productive habits.
In the third book of the Writing to Publish series, author, educator, and speaker, Rebecca Waters offers new writers practical strategies to employ these five practices in sustainable ways.
Rebecca Waters has been a writer most of her life. Her first published work was a short story in the school newspaper she wrote in second grade. For many years Rebecca used her stories as illustrations in school and church settings or to entertain her own three daughters. Her professional writing included educational articles and research. Following her retirement as a professor of education from Cincinnati Christian University, Rebecca turned her pen to the world of fiction. Her latest novel, Libby’s Cuppa Joewas released in March 2019. Her Writing to Publish Serieshelps beginning writers become published authors.