Using What I’ve Learned

I’m well on my way, now, to getting my story on paper…I have the equivalent of a chapter written down, while the specifics of the story continue to unfold in my thoughts. Writing is not just…on paper, but also includes the process of researching, thinking, meditating, exercising to get the blood flowing, observing, interviewing and many other actions that preempt the actual putting of words to paper. Author, Haley Whitehall recently wrote a blog on this topic, click here to read it.

I’ve been trying out techniques posted by other authors, and I have to say, most have worked for me. The first and best was (1)setting realistic goals. In doing that, working backwards, I set dates for publication, sending the 2nd draft to an editor, completing a revision, finishing the first draft, writing 20,000 words per month, writing 5,000 words per week. I broke it down further to writing a minimum of 5 days per week and 1,000 words each of those days. The first time I sat down with the intention of writing 1,000 words, it was exhilarating! I accomplished it in only a couple of hours. I used the balance of my time for that day reviewing my previous paragraphs to tighten them up, researching for the upcoming plot points, and (2) talking with my husband. No, I wasn’t just having a fun little chat with him…I was having a discussion with him about my protagonist and what my options were with her direction in the story.  He’s a great sounding board. I bounce ideas off him and he comes back with intelligent insight. Part of it is just speaking about the story problems out loud and seeing the reaction on his face. Many times he’ll relate a scene in my story to a similar instance in a movie or book, which gives me alternate points of view on the subject.

(3) I’m writing historical fiction, so I often Google images or listen to music of the era in which I’m writing. Sometimes, I’ll go to with a song title from that era and read the lyrics to get the mood of that period. I look at pictures of the clothes, research what took place on a particular date, and with all of this, I get a clearer image of what it was like to live in that time. If I’m experiencing writer’s block, that research will sometimes get me unstuck.

(4) Interviews are an invaluable resource for information relating to your plot. In my case, I have interviewed a few people who lived in the era of my story, and who happened to be in the same profession as my protagonist. Their lives inspire nuances for my story that I may not have created otherwise.

(5) In reading Joanna Penn’s blog,, I’ve learned the many ways and reasons to create an author platform. Marketing your own book prior to presenting to a publisher is a must-do these days. This blog is the first brick of that platform. Over the next few months I will be putting into practice some of the other advice she gives. If you’re interested, you can read more about it in her free offering, Author 2.o Blueprint, click here.

(6) Every small hurdle in the writing process that I’ve successfully jumped has validated my belief in myself as a writer. By the time I’ve finished this novel, I will be confident enough to write a rockin’ query letter and get this book picked up by an editor and finally a publisher. My goal for my publishing date is January, 2012.

Tell me what you’ve learned so far. Sharing techniques and strategies helps us all.


One thought on “Using What I’ve Learned

  1. Pingback: My Modus Operandi | Marcia Richards….Savvy Ink-Slinger

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