It’s probably equally scary to share a finished manuscript with people, but I haven’t had that pleasure yet. Two of my beta readers finished reading last week within a few days of each other, and that’s the first time anyone other than me has read the whole thing through. My readers are super awesome people, and all the feedback I’ve gotten so far as been really constructive and helpful, but I still get this little jolt of panic every time I see an update from one of them.
I feel like this whole process is a crash course in developing stronger confidence, though. Not because anyone has been anything less than helpful so far, but because showing it to anyone when I know it’s nowhere near finished was a pretty difficult step for me. Handing it over to the editor was similarly intimidating, even though it’s literally her job to take unfinished things and help develop them into better things. Every step is gonna be scarier than the last, but that seems like a good thing in the long run. It’s hard to make good art while also being too scared to take risks.
Plus, without the risk it’s not possible to get the super sweet responses that make it feel totally worthwhile. ❤
I’ve come across some really great writing vloggers (video bloggers) while wasting time on Youtube, so I thought I’d share them. Honestly, no source of writing information has been as helpful to me as these videos. They’re encouraging, educational, and it’s really easy to absorb the information and remember it. It’s great to be able to put on a video and soak up awesome writing goodness while doing the dishes, and watching one or two before sitting down to write helps me get in the right headspace. Plus, it usually cheers me up if I’m feeling floppy and unmotivated.
- Jenna Moreci‘s videos are just really fun to watch. She’s funny, and she has great writing tips that I’ve found incredibly helpful. She’s also very blunt and honest. I think that creative types often need a kick in the pants more than sympathy, so I appreciate her no-nonsense approach; it’s generally what I need when I’m goofing off. Here is her great advice for getting over writer’s block. Her self-published YA sci-fi series, starting with Eve: The Awakening, looks really great. I have a copy sitting on my shelf but haven’t had time to read it yet, which makes me sad. I’m also really excited for her upcoming fantasy book, The Savior’s Champion.
- Kim Chance is a total sweetie. She recently got a publishing deal for her book Keeper, and she offers a lot of support for people who are interested in traditional publishing. Her videos are super cute and heartwarming, and she also has great general fiction-writing advice. She teaches english, so she’s there for your grammar needs, too. Here is her video on giving your book a strong start, with lots of great info about what to do and what not to do in first chapters.
- Kristen Martin‘s writing vlog is full of really detailed, really clear information, and she also has a cool personal vlog where she shares some of her daily life, including how she finds general balance and a healthy approach to her writing. A lot of writing sources romanticize stress, so it is really refreshing to see someone who really cares about feeling good and taking care of herself while pursuing her goals. Here is her video on her writing process and how she gets her first drafts done in about two months, which is totally hardcore. Her self-published YA sci-fi series, starting with The Alpha Drive, looks really cool. She also offers first chapter critiques for a reasonable fee. She critiqued the first chapter of Somnolence, which was incredibly helpful and encouraging.
- Bookish Pixie, also known as Ava Jay, is also traditionally published. She offers advice about that process, plus a bunch of general fiction tips and tricks. Here is her video on writing fight scenes, which can be really difficult to get right. She started pursuing her writing goals very young, and has worked incredibly hard. I think her videos would be especially encouraging for younger writers, although I still get a lot out of them. She wrote Beyond the Red, another cool sci-fi novel.
There are a ton of really informative writing vlogs out there, so I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to just search around on Youtube, because there’s almost certainly someone making videos that are perfect for your needs. And if not, you could always take it up yourself and help others while building an audience. 🙂
Here’s what’s been working for me. Feel free to ignore or borrow anything you like. It’s actually been pretty fun.
- 5 hour energy shots
- Buckets of strawberry refresher from Starbucks
- Fizzy juice
- Music, usually a random pop station. I don’t usually have music on when I’m writing but for this I don’t find it too distracting.
- Pink, yellow, green, and blue highlighters
- Black, blue, and red ballpoint pens
- A nice lined notepad
- Smart phone – You could just as easily use a printed-out copy of your manuscript for this.
- For this phase, other than setting it up, I’ve avoided my laptop entirely. It’s too easy to get sucked into revisions (or Facebook).
- I use Scrivener for actual drafting, so I was able to compile my manuscript as an ebook and then it was pretty simple to just pop the whole thing into Google Books. I even added a pretty cover so it looks like the other books in my library. Self delusion is an important part of my process, apparently. I did everything I could to distance myself from it.
- Working from the ebook copy of my full manuscript, I make all my notes on the pad. Pretty simple.
- Anything that requires a major change, or is a completely new idea, gets highlighted.
- I make sure to always label each page with date and chapter, but I don’t worry too much about labeling the specific notes. I want to be able to get it all back in order if I drop the stack, but most of the notes contain enough context that I’ll know exactly what sentence or paragraph to focus on as I go through the manuscript on my computer, which is my final step.
- Doodles are obviously a vital part of the creative process.
- I finished taking notes on the whole story, and reviewed my outline to make sure I hadn’t wandered badly off track and see if I needed to correct anything. (I did.)
- And finally, I’m just going through the manuscript fixing things and checking the items off. If I can’t make the change right away because it requires more brain-power than I have at the moment, I make a red note in the margin to make sure I won’t forget to come back to it.
- Example of my super fancy note-taking technique pictured below: