Tag Archives: Write for Your Life

Can I get a HELL YEAH for September?

Along with the rest of the world, I am attempting to get back in the groove with work, life, and my writing. Work and life are judiciously in check; however the writing has been somewhat sporadic, even lethargic. But that’s all about to change.

We, Restless Writers, begin our regular meeting schedule once again next week (Squeee!). This means dates and deadlines—and of course, a little vino. It also means GOAL-SETTING. September is the perfect time to put the goods on the table, so-to-speak. And I’m not talkin’ butter tarts here (although, I’m sure that will happen too); I’m talking about realistic and achievable goals. You know the kind. The SMART ones. With details. And dates.

One of the most important things writers can do is set clear, explicit goals about what they want to accomplish. Most of us have a bunch of vague goals, like the “one day” kind (as in, “one day, I’m going to write a novel), and then there’s the “some day” kind (as in, some day, I’m going to finish my book and find an agent). Make that day, today. Don’t be a chug-meister. Set a clear goal and get ‘er done.

It’s time to spend some quality time with words. Be an active practitioner of your craft. Commit to improving your art. According to Dustin Wax, an author’s relationship with a work in progress is a lot like your relationship with your significant other. You have to work at it every day, and nurture it, and accept its quirks and even failures. And if you lack real commitment, sooner or later, one or the other of you will flake out.

Sure, you gotta start small. Have some fun with it. But don’t expect the unexpected or worse, confuse your goals and expectations (and end up disappointed). Planning and patience are crucial to your success. Some brilliant advice from Write for Your Life, Iain Broome: Aim high. Expect nothing.

My September Writing Goals:

  • Attend (schmooze) Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Oct 22-24.
  • Polish my LITTLE EARTHLINGS non-fiction proposal, craft query, & send the baby out by Sept 30.
  • Send 3-5 queries to agents (per week) for my MG novel: BILLIE BOOTS, til Dec 31.
  • Give my YA novel (LIGHTS) some lovin’ — review outline, write 1 chapter per week, beginning Oct 15.
  • Select 2 Screenplay Competitions for my family drama: FROM NEBULA TO HERE.
  • Ressurect thriller project (or at least determine its future!) 

 I am WRITER. See me WRITE!

Beckie

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5 Ways to Provide Gracious Feedback

Take this, bitches! Okay, I just pulled a Lori Dyan there. Such sentiment could be perceived as ungracious, but I assure you (in this case) — it’s ALL LOVE! 

Like Maria says, our little writing group can be a bit loosey-goosey when it comes to rules. However, because critiquing is such an important part of our Restless Writers’ unwritten rules and responsibilities, it seemed worthy of a follow-up blog post to: The Restless Writers’ Guide to Criticism.

 To grow and evolve as writers we must do the inevitable—offer our work to others for critique. Agreeing to provide feedback is one of the best things we can do to improve our writing skills. In fact, just being asked implies a “trust” in each other’s skills and opinions to help take our stories from good to FANTASTIC.

According to Write for Your Life, there are ways to provide feedback  that can be tough, thought-provoking, compassionate and yes, even constructive.

5 Ways to Providing Gracious Feedback:

1. We’re talking one person’s opinion

Always frame your feedback as only your opinion. Others will have different thoughts or suggestions—particularly the author! Add a statement at the end of your feedback emails that reads:  please accept/reject/alter or ignore anything here as it is your work and this is my take on it.

2. Feedback is not a monologue

Feedback involves more than one person. It’s a dialogue. Always offer to discuss your comments or suggestions with the writer. Remember, it’s okay to disagree. It’s the writer’s work after all and they do get the final say.

3. Be Positive & Stick to Specifics

Always begin with something positive! Then use specific examples to illustrate your point. Give suggestions on how the writer may make changes. Be honest. Constructive feedback is more likely to give a writer an ‘a-ha!’ moment, even if it initially feels like a slap in the face. Avoid broad-sweeping statements or generalisation. It gives a writer nothing to work with.

4. Stick to Deadlines

Don’t leave people hanging for weeks waiting. Writers assume that if people don’t get back to them in good time it means they’re struggling to find the right words to tell you that your work stinks. Determine mutually agreeable deadlines for turning in feedback.

5. Set parameters from the get-go

Ask the writer: what kind of feedback they’re looking for, what draft version they are sending, where they are planning to send it (e.g. contests), the word count, due date for submission, and the date feedback is required.

Sure, giving feedback can sometimes be terrifying but if you stick to this format, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Start small. Be truthful. Offer creative alternatives. The more you do it, the less painful it will be.

How do you provide *gracious* feedback? Any suggestions to add to this list?

Beckie

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