Guest Post by Bunny Miner.
Bunny Miner is a retired elementary school teacher with several books to her credit. Bunny’s first book, ‘And So It Begins…’ hit Amazon’s top ten its first week out. When she’s not immersed in whatever fantasy world she is currently creating, she enjoys spending tie with her four crazy kids (who supply fodder for her stories), three needy dogs, one totally cute husband and her adorable grandson. You can find Bunny on her website: www.bunnyminer.com, Facebook: children’s author Bunny Miner, and Twitter: @bunnyminerauthr.
So you’ve made that leap in your mind that you’re not just a dabbler anymore, you’re a full-fledged writer! Yay! Good for you! Give yourself a big pat on the back. Imagine me giving you a high-five. That really is awesome.
I know it was a huge step for most of you. It’s hard for us creative types to put ourselves out there. Now that you’ve made this leap, you will find if you want to get published there is a seemingly endless list of things to do before you even write your book!
Don’t believe me? Go on the web. Look at all the things you’re told you have to do. Do a blog. Have an email list. Join a critique group. Make a website. Get beta-readers. Find an agent. Get an editor. The list goes on and on.
If you look at the never-ending list, you’ll soon go from the happy new writer to something like this:
You may even feel like you need to breathe into a paper bag because you’re hyperventilating and getting light headed. Go ahead and do that if you need to (breathe into the bag, not hyperventilate!). Once you’re breathing normally again,
Now I need you to take a couple of deep breathes with me. Inhale…1…2. Exhale…1…2. Again. Inhale…1…2. Exhale…1…2. Ok, are we good now?
I’d like to give you your first 5 steps to concentrate on to going from being a writer to a published author without all the stressful stuff to get in the way, give you anxiety and cause you to freeze where you are. Ready?
Step 1: Reward yourself
It’s a rare thing for a writer to just wake up and embrace the idea that they’re a legitimate author-in-training but that is what you are now. Whether you are writing for yourself or writing to get published by one of the Big 5, getting the words in your head down on paper in their best form possible means you’re an author, my friend. So celebrate it! You deserve it!
We all have our favorite treats. Mine is the Chocolate Tuxedo cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory! Yours may be a luxurious bubble bath, some quiet time with your favorite book or just spending some quality time to be with your family. Set aside some time to do that before you jump headlong into this writer thing. I’m going to tell you why in just a second.
Step 2: Set up your writing space
Ok, I trust you did not take a long time with your celebration because now it is time to get to work! This is also why I told you to celebrate now because it’s time to get your family/support team on board and knuckle down and do what you have to do! I know you want to grab your computer or notepad and start writing but first, you need a place to write. Don’t think you’ll just travel around and work from wherever because it won’t happen. Plus, you need a place that shows your subconscious that you mean business. Make it somewhere well lit and as free from distractions as you can get. This should be the same place you write every time you write if can help it. It’s a little like training a new baby to sleep through the night. You wouldn’t put the baby down at different times and in different places every time you wanted him/her to sleep. That just wouldn’t work. So find a place to write and make it your own.
Step 3: Schedule a time to write
If you don’t schedule your writing time, it will disappear without a trace and you’ll be left scratching your head at the end of the day wondering what happened to it. Ideally, it would be a nice block of time at the same time every day. Being a realist, however, I know that nobody lives in a vacuum and there are other things that have to be done in your life. Schedule them too. I’ve written through several different seasons of my life so I’ll offer some suggestions on a few of those seasons that have worked for me.
Newborn season-Just put it on the backburner for a few months! You need to spend time with that little one! Don’t think you’ll miss your chance. People will always read books but a new baby won’t stop changing every day!
Infant/Toddler season-Pick one nap time and make that your writing time. Don’t make phone calls, check social media or clean! This is your scheduled time to write so that’s what you need to do.
School aged kids/empty nester/retired season-You’re going to think that since you’re not chasing after kids anymore, that you’ll have all day to write. More than likely, you probably won’t. You’ll have more ‘free’ hours but again, unless you schedule that writing time, it’ll disappear too. Other obligations will pop up.
There are obviously other seasons of your life that you are either now in or will be in, this was just a few suggestions for people. The main point is, SCHEDULE A TIME TO WRITE!
Step 4: Join a writing group or start your own
This is probably the number one way that my writing has improved. I have been with the same group of talented writers for years and being with them has been a huge blessing in my life in many ways. Not only do people in a writing group share their works with each other to glean suggestions for improvement, they also will become some of your greatest friends and cheerleaders! You can have a writing group that meets in person or you can find one online. One way to find a writing or critique group is to join a professional writing organization. I’m pretty sure there is even an app for finding a group. Or ask your old friend Google!
Step 5: Read books in your genre
I know this one is an easy one. Writers love to read. However, I want you to start reading with a purpose. Pick great authors in your genre. Look at what works in these books. Maybe even pick up a lousy book or two and note what doesn’t work. This is your competition if you want to be published. Now I don’t want you to copy they way they write, you have your own unique voice, use it! What I do want you to do is be a student of the good writers. Notice how they use dialog to move a plot along. Look at how they describe their characters. Just learn and absorb as much as you can.
Hopefully, this little article will help you get started in your new path. Congratulations! If you’d like more writing tips, you can check out my blog at bunnyminer.com.