Writers Can’t Help But Take Things Personally

writers-rejection-reviews

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

Ahh, the writing life. What a dream. Making up stories and drinking coffee all day in your pajamas. It doesn’t get any better than that, eh?

But hold on there, Hoss. The writing life isn’t always like that. In fact, sometimes it’s downright awful, especially when:

  • you get a review disparaging your novel, your morals, and your pet parakeet
  • you don’t feel like your writing is being championed by your agent, or your editor, or even your mother
  • you can barely garner a like on your Facebook page while other writers are winning awards left and right

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When trials such as these dog a writer’s life, the kneejerk reaction is to pat the poor little writer on the head and say, “Cheer up, my writerly friend. Don’t take these things so personally.”

And at that point, the writer ought to deliver a roundhouse kick to the head. Why? Because not only is that sentiment nothing but a big fat platitude, it’s a bald-faced lie. These things are personal, there’s no getting around it.

But again . . . why?

Because it’s impossible to pen an authentic tale that touches a reader’s heart and soul unless the author pours out his own heart and soul into the words. A writer stands before a reader naked; parts of his psyche are embedded in the characters, the dialogue, and especially in the internal monologue. When that creation is rejected — or worse, ignored — it’s normal for the creator to take it personally.

But that doesn’t mean you have to wallow in sorrow. Go ahead and feel the sting, grieve if you have to, then cut your losses and move on. Not everyone is going to “get” your writing.

Writing is art and art is subjective.


12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.

5 Tips to Polish Your Manuscript

edit-tips-writing

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

Most folks around here—the frozen tundra of Minneapolis—currently are hibernating because of the cold. I don’t blame them. It’s warmer in Siberia than here. Not even exaggerating (this time).

But I’m not hunkered down because of a nippy windchill. Currently I’m squirreled away because I’m in the middle of edits. It’s the ol’ pedal to the grindstone, nose to the metal time . . . or something like that. Yeah. Editing is very important, and there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way to help the process go a little easier.

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5 Tips to Polish Your Manuscript

  1. Have 3 or 4 other sets of eyeballs read your work and offer notes.

This step is essential. You need to know what you’re really dealing with because at this point you won’t be able to see the trees in the midst of that godforsaken forest you call a manuscript. Is it a masterpiece or a piece of manure? Nab some honest Joes by the collar and ask them for their unadulterated opinion.

  1. Read those notes and decide which ones you’ll use.

Some comments on your writing are 100% awesome. Others? Not so much. How do you decide which advice to listen to and which to shove down the garbage disposal? You’re the author so go with your gut. If adding or cutting something is a hill that you’d die on, then ignore the advice. But if you’re not willing to fight to the death over some words, then change them.

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  1. Decide on a plan of attack.

Now that you’ve heard back from your beta readers, how are you going to implement those changes? Biggest changes to smallest? Easiest to hardest? Front to back, plow right through, beginning to end? There is no “right” way to do it. The point is that you pick a way and just get ‘er done.

  1. Be a hoarder.

More than likely you’re going to be cutting a lot of unnecessary description, maybe even some dialogue or action, to make the story flow better and trim it down to a svelte form. Open up a blank file and save all that cut verbage. Why? A few reasons . . . you might want to put it back in later when your editor notices a gaping hole. Or you could use the copy as “extras” — tidbits to toss to your raving fans. Or you might even have a brilliant bit that could go into a different story later on.

  1. On your last pass edit, read it out loud.

Sure, you may feel like a babbling idiot reading your entire novel out loud, but trust me on this, it’s worth the embarrassment. Your tongue will stumble over phrases that your mind skips over like a freaking little lamb. Why does it matter? Because believe it or not, changing those mouthfuls will help with the pacing and rhythm of the words, if even subliminally.

Once you’ve completed these steps, it’s time to unleash that puppy into the world. At some point you have to call it quits and move on to another project.

 


12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.

The 3 Ps of Writing Back Cover Copy

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

Stand in Barnes & Noble and watch what prospective buyers do. Note: It’s probably best not to wear a trench coat and definitely lose the sunglasses. What were you thinking, you big creeper? Now that we’ve got that straightened out, what do you see?

First, a potential buyer pulls off a book with a jazzy front cover. Yeah, pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. Two seconds later, if the cover grabs him, it’s time for the big flip. He turns the book over in his hands, scans the back copy, and:

A.) Zingo! His eyes widen. He’s hooked. He reaches for his wallet and races to the nearest cashier.

OR

B.) Yawn. Book goes back on shelf. End of story and any royalties for the author.

What made the difference? The back cover copy. Trust me, writing that copy is not as easy as it looks, folks. But never fear, I have a handy-dandy list-o-rama to help.

THE 3 Ps OF WRITING BACK COVER COPY

  1. Pack a punch with power words.

If you’ve only got a limited amount of words to use, then use those that are powerful. Emotional. Shocking. Controversial or evocative. Those are the kinds of words that make a reader curious and leave them drooling for more. Examples: daunting, courage, beguile

The Essential Scenes in every best-seller

Essential scenes cover

Create a powerful story with these essential scenes!

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  1. Paint a picture.

Use your sweet writing skills to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind. Give them a taste of what’s in store for them if they purchase the book. Leave them with a teaser, a big question as to what will happen.

  1. Pithy is perfect.

Nowadays everyone’s got ADD, especially on the internet. Chances are your book will be sold on Amazon, so that means you’ve got to be short and sweet, baby. Make your description as easy to understand and as pared down as possible.

It also helps if you read examples of back cover copy from books that are out there on today’s shelves. That’s not stealing. That’s smart detective work.


12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.

3 Steps Toward Writing Fearlessly

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

It’s okay to mess up. No, really. Not only am I giving you permission to crash and burn in spectacular glory, but you need to give yourself permission as well. Why? Because studies show when you feel you are allowed to make mistakes, you are less likely to make any.

Sure, that’s easy to say, but how does it play out in the real world of writing? What exactly does it look like to write in a manner that is free from the fear of failure?

3 Steps Toward Writing Fearlessly

  1. Give yourself some time.

When you start a new writing project, don’t expect to whiz-bang it out in a manner of weeks, especially if you’re taking some new risks in your writing (and you should always be taking some kind of risk). Don’t constrain yourself by expecting to create within a certain timeframe. This gets a bit more tricky if you’ve got an actual deadline, but even so, build some wiggle time into that looming date. That gives you space to correct mistakes that you will undoubtedly make.

Example: I need to turn my next manuscript in by Feb. 1st. But I made myself a personal deadline of Nov. 30th. That way I can go back in and fix up the bugaboos without shifting into panic gear.

  1. Ask for help.

Nobody likes to admit they need help. It’s humbling . . . especially if you’ve made a mess of something. But don’t hide your mistakes. Share them with others who can help. Sometimes it really does take a village.

Example: The novel I have coming out in June is set in Colonial America. As a Regency/Victorian author, what the heck do I know about Colonial America? Sure, I’ve researched, but I’ve also got a few historical fiction buddies who are experts in this area. I didn’t just ask them for help…I batted my eyelashes and added a “pretty please with sugar on top.”

The Essential Scenes in every best-seller

Essential scenes cover

Create a powerful story with these essential scenes!

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  1. Quit the comparison game.

There are always going to be faster writers out there than you. But if you compare yourself to them, you’ll get all snarled up in feeling worthless. If comparison is a horrible habit you just can’t break, then compare yourself to yourself. Look at your performance this year and compare it to where you were at five years ago, or even a year ago. You might still be making mistakes, but are you making less? Are you improving?

Example: I used to beat myself up for not being able to write more than a page a day. That count is in the rear view mirror. Now I can easily do 1500-2000 a day. That number still doesn’t compare to some of the rockstar authors I know, but I see growth and that frees me up to quit worrying about it.

Don’t stagnate in playing it safe to avoid making mistakes. Successful people take risks, even if it means they fail.


12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.