How is Writing Like a First Date?

We’ve all heard it said that writing is a solitary pursuit. We can even visualize writers in ages past, slaving away in solitude with nothing more than a candle, a bit of parchment and a pen. In reality, writing is an endeavor built on forging relationships.
  • Between you and the reader.
  • Between the reader and the characters or subject.
  • Between you and the editor.
  • Between you and your agent.
  • Between you and other writers.
I’ll go even a step further and propose that writing something for publication is like going on a first date!
If you think about it you’ll see it’s true. With writing, like first dates, the first impression counts. When you write your first line it’s your first impression, and many times it determines whether or not your reader will go any further in the relationship.
So here are some writing/dating mistakes to avoid.
Mistake Number One
One mistake we make is in how we present our story. We’ve all met people who try to give us their life story in the first thirty seconds we meet. It’s not comfortable, and I often find myself running for the exit. This was illustrated in a popular episode of the TV show Seinfeld. Does anyone remember the ‘Close Talker’ episode? Sometimes we open our novels with too much information and we overwhelm the reader. There’s a term for this, backstory.
Mistake Number Two
Another first date mistake we make in writing is found in non-fiction. We’ve all met the person who exaggerates everything. It’s hard to take anything they say at face value. I’ve actually found myself verifying everything this person says, even if it’s just that it’s sunny outside. I can’t resist peeking outside just to be sure. We can come across that way in articles and non-fiction books if we aren’t careful about where we get our facts. It takes time to do in-depth research, but the reputation we gain as a writer is priceless.
Mistake Number Three
The last mistake we can make is going on a blind date. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but for me, blind dates didn’t ever turn out well. The same thing can happen to us as writers if we don’t take time to get to know our audience. We have to have our audience well defined before we begin or it probably won’t end well.  This is equally true if we’re writing books, articles or devotions.
So now it’s your turn—how have your relationships with the reader turned out?
Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. Married 30+ years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

Silencing Your Inner Editor

Is your Inner Editor a friend or foe? For most of us the answer is dependent on where we are in the writing process. This overly helpful voice lives inside most of us and comes in handy when we’re putting the finishing touches on our manuscripts. But when we’re in the midst of a creative surge, that same help can short-circuit our progress.
There’s a scientific reason for that roadblock. The creative act of writing a first draft stems from the right side—or creative side—of the brain. Later in the process, when polishing begins, the left side takes over.
Right Brain
  • Visual in process, focusing more on patterns and images.
  • Generally intuitive, led by feelings.
  • Is the epitome of multi-tasking, able to process ideas simultaneously.
  • Progresses from the big picture to the details.
  • Lacks organization, utilizes free association.
Left Brain
  • More verbal, needs to find specific words to express ideas.
  • Analytical, led by logic.
  • Takes things step by step, one idea at a time.
  • Organizes details first before moving to the big picture.
  • Very organized, utilizing lists and detailed plans.
Mixing up the process—trying to use both sides of the brain at the same time—can lead to a tangled mess and a major roadblock. All of this is good to know, but what if our left-brained Inner Editor won’t go away? There isn’t one way that works for everyone, but here are some tips that should help.
  • Don’t give in to temptation. Our Inner Editor gets stronger the more frequently we give in to his demands. If he thinks you need a certain word before you can finish that sentence, stay strong. Type xxx and go on. Later, during the rewriting process, you’ll have plenty of time to find the right word. At this point in your manuscript, speed is your best friend.
  • Set a daily and weekly word count goal. This can often sidetrack the Inner Editor because of his need to meet a goal. Sometimes, in his drive to succeed he can even become an ally.
  • Make lists in a separate notebook. Use your computer for the story, but if the need for details overshadows the creative urge, make a quick note in a notebook. Don’t let yourself get bogged down.
  • Don’t give in to fear. Many times our Inner Editor is driven by fear. Fear that this draft isn’t good, won’t work or just doesn’t make sense. Remind yourself that this version isn’t written in stone. Sometimes just giving ourselves permission to write a crummy first draft is all we need to derail our inner editor.
No matter how insistent your Inner Editor, these tips can help you change his role from enemy to encourager.
Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog,The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, and her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

Get Taken Seriously as a Writer by Your Family and Friends

“Nobody takes me seriously or respects my time.”
This seems to be a common refrain I hear from newer writers. They’ve finally worked up the courage to get serious about writing regularly and some of their closest family and friends won’t respect their time. They get calls during the times they’re writing and attitude if they don’t stop to talk. They hear comments that undermine their newfound confidence.
“You can do that, after all you stay home all day.”
“Oh come on, you’ve got nothing better to do.”
And my favorite. “It’s not like you have a real job.”
So what’s a writer to do?
To begin with, take a deep breath and realize this problem isn’t unique to writers. It happens to everyone who works from home—I should know—my husband and I have shared a home office for the past thirteen years. For some people an office isn’t an office if it isn’t off site. Not logical—but an all too common misconception.
I’ve fought this battle—sometimes more successfully than others—and these are the strategies I’ve come up with. 
  • First, make certain you’re setting the example you want followed. By that I mean keep regular hours. Notice I said regular hours—not normal ones. For years I wrote with young children. That meant writing in the afternoons and after they were in bed. Just because you’re working odd hours doesn’t mean you can’t have a schedule.
  • Second, treat what you’re doing like you’re serious. If you blow off writing for shopping and lunch several times a week your friends and family won’t understand if you don’t stop for them.
  • Third, be consistent. If you’re not accepting calls from your mother-in-law because you’re working, don’t spend the afternoon on the phone with your best friend. Stay focused on your writing. This is even more critical if your time is at a premium.
  • Fourth, recruit a support team. Instead of adversaries, enlist your friends and family to help you reach your writing goals. Communicate those goals, clearly and frequently. Ask for their help to reach them. After all, what mother doesn’t want to help her baby succeed!
  • Fifth, share your victories. Let those that help you share in the joy of goals accomplished and milestones reached.

These five things have helped me immeasurably over the years. But they’re not a cure all. There will still be those who think what you do is fun and not work. Expect that, anticipate it even. Knowing it happens to everyone takes away a little bit of the sting.
So what have you found to help when you struggle with sabotaging friends and family?

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog,The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writersand her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.


Social Networking—Take Time to get Your Feet Wet

We live in an exciting time as writers. We have more ways of
interacting with our readers and each other than ever before. In addition to
email, there are blogs to read and comment on, Facebook and Twitter to connect,
not to mention the new options of YouTube and LinkedIn. But this excitement can
also lead to overload and burnout. Here are some tips to help you ease in
without overwhelming valuable writing time.
  • Set Priorities – I recommend you pick
    one or two applications to concentrate on before you move on to others. For
    example, I started with a blog and Facebook about the same time, but waited
    until I was comfortable keeping them current before I added Twitter and
    LinkedIn into my routine.
  • Set a Time Limit – I could spend all
    day moving from emails, to Facebook, to blogs, to Twitter, to . . . well you
    get the idea. I set specific times to do my social networking. There are
    exceptions, but for me to actually write—which is the point, after all—I have
    to stick to a schedule.
  • Realize There’s a Learning Curve – When
    something new comes along—I have to give myself permission to not be an instant
    expert. We hear buzzwords like intuitive and
    user friendly and immediately think
    there’s something wrong with us if we don’t pick it up easily.
  • Don’t Fall for the Hype – I’m guilty of
    being one of those who’s excited about new ways to connect. In the spirit of
    encouragement, I’ll tell those around me, “You’ve got to try  ____________________!” There are lots of cool applications out
    there—but none of them is the right answer for everyone.
  • Accept that Social Networking Makes
    EVERYONE Feel Overwhelmed –
    I don’t care who they are, or who they work
    for—no one can keep up. The business is just changing too quickly. Feeling overwhelmed
    is part of the picture, just accept it and go on.

I love social networking—and I get a lot of business through
it—but even I have to be careful and not let it take over my life. Seth Godin,
one of the most popular bloggers on the Internet recently posted a blog  about ways to keep this monster in check. If he struggles with this issue,
there’s definitely hope for the rest of us.
Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in
the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing
blog, The Write Conversation.
She has two bestselling books, an eBook, Social
Media Marketing for Writers
,
as well as a devotional available in
print and eBook format, Fighting
Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.