When I began writing, I used to spend a lot of time using a site called, Espresso Story, where the stories were 25 words or less. It helped me define a story in a few words until I felt able to increase my word count and descriptions.
Here are a few examples.
The stick flew My dog pounced And collided with him That’s how we met My love and I
Trapped but guilty to move on Loving but alone in a crowd Sleeping but horror in her dreams Smiling but crying within
Free of her kidnapper She fled the horrific basement Running along a darkened road Through torrential rain The driver never saw her
Tantrum: But I want it!!!! You’ll get it alright
Karma: We knew each other from before, Have loved in the present, Now to guarantee our future.
Boat Trip: The boat tips, Water seeps in, No land in sight, Help!
Inept – Definition: 1) not suited for the occasion: inappropriate 2) lacking in skill or ability: incompetent
No matter at which point we are in our writing journeys, feelings of being inept plaque us. We can all make a long list of insecurities and worries about our style, skill level and current Work in Progress. My question is – if we didn’t have these uncertainties would we be a ‘better’ writer or not?
Striving for perfection can easily become an obsession and our work will suffer for it. There is a fine balance between a polished piece of work and a ‘ruined’ one. On the other hand expecting an agent or publisher to over-look editing and grammatical errors because we feel our manuscript is unique is a major flaw. Reading as a professional would, is the key, although this in itself is a difficult task after spending months if not years creating our story. We are engaged with the characters and their conflicts and struggles. They have become ‘real’ to us and the story runs in our minds rather than on the page. This is the crux of the problem – are we actually reading the words or playing out the story?
The Internet is full of writing tips as we all know but some recurring ones on tightening up a manuscript have commonalities.
Leave the manuscript unread for a period of time.
Read the story from back to front – chapter by chapter.
Focus on one aspect of editing at a time. i.e. grammar, plot lines etc. (I’ve even heard of one author printing her manuscripts on different colored paper for each revision!)
Have other people read it and critique (honestly).
Send a section to a professional editor.
Take advantage of a local Writer in Residence for feedback.
Read a section out loud to your writer’s circle and ask for comments.
However, feelings of being inept are not just limited to our written work. Are you confident in public speaking? It is one thing reading to a group of people you know but what about in the public domain? Author readings are a great way to present your work and create interest in your stories.
Practice the piece you are going to read in front of a mirror.
Take care in your selection of clothing, depending on the venue and audience age.
Choose a section or chapter with lots of action or intrigue.
Remember to look up at your audience and gesticulate.
Project your voice and don’t mumble.
Don’t rush – this is the hardest!
Be prepared to answer questions at the end.
The above tips work well for live interviews as well, either on radio or television. You may have some flexibility with these if they are not ‘live’ and can re-take the whole interview or a part of it.
Social media is another avenue of uncertainty for many writers and authors. Cherishing your work in a desk drawer is great but if you are serious about releasing it into the public domain you need to invest some time into this resource.
Research what type of social media, authors in the same genre are using.
Carefully investigate the multitude of options available. There is not a ‘one fits all’.
Pick the sites that best suit your level of commitment. (How much time you are willingly to put into them as it can take over your life if you let it!)
A blog is a useful tool to increase your profile. Decide on what theme, style, subject and frequency you can fulfill.
Link to similar genre writers on web sites such as Twitter.
Utilize ‘sharing’ sites, such as Networked Blogs and options on other web sites. i.e. WordPress.com links to face book, twitter and Google +
Conquer your feelings of ineptitude with your ‘writing’ support system, whatever that entails. Whether a writing circle, close friends or family that encourage you or virtual supporters – reach out – you’ll be surprised. Remember to offer support back too – it is not only very rewarding but expands your writing ‘community’.