Write, Revise, Send In, Repeat

Yes, it’s been said before, by better writers than I. But this is the simplified form of the process, and it bears repeating.

Write! Every day. Every single day. Yes, take time to read, research and relax. But if you intend to commit to writing, you must write something every day. I recommend the same time every day. Start, if it’s hard, by setting aside a half hour or other reasonable time, and lock yourself in with your work and no distractions, and whether you write or not, don’t do anything ELSE for that time. If you’re a writer, you will ultimately write during that time. Then, once you’re in a habit and see what your natural speed is, set a daily word goal for yourself.

Revise! But most wisdom agrees it’s better to finish the piece first, taking notes along the way if needed. Then set it aside for a while. Then edit and revise, preferably not to exhaustion. If you’re still making tiny changes on the third pass, stop. In addition, try to revise for brevity. There should be few unnecessary words, and you might find most of the adverbs are unnecessary. Cutting usually doesn’t hurt the piece. Padding almost always does.

Send It In! A crucial step. When you’ve gotten to the point where there are no major revisions to be made, stop revising. The next time you’ll edit it is when an editor says to. Start sending it in. Start with your very favorite choice of person to take it: highest paying, most likely to love it. Research what agents or editors are accepting your kind of work, make sure you have their names and addresses right, and submit with careful attention to the submission guidelines! Otherwise you are wasting everyone’s time.

Repeat! A vanishingly small proportion of stories or books get accepted the first time. Yes, even after you’ve been published, you will still get rejections. Probably all your life. So when it gets rejected, research the next best agent or editor to send it to, and shove it out the door as fast as it came in. This should be a continuous, circulating process. And while you’re sending things out, be writing the next thing.

Do all this, and you will find that you’re a committed, professional-to-be writer.

Word Count: 1654


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ruthie
    Nov 17, 2008 @ 22:22:11

    Good point. The first step is always the hardest, I think, because it’s that whole fear of the unknown thing. But once you’re in the process it’s not as scary as it looks. Sure the rejections hurt, but if you get to the point where you can’t take one more you can always have a funeral for the rejected book like Mary Patrick Kavanaugh is doing.

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