Friday, December 31, 2010

Things I've Learned in 2010

I’m not perfect and never will be. I am trying to give myself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Being a perfectionist has always been the way I did things but it also causes me a lot of angst. Tearing myself down with every mistake is no way to live. Therefore, I have decided to let go of the little things and just do the best I can and leave it at that. Perfect is a word I want to drop from my vocabulary. I have been more laid back and kinder to myself this last year.

Pleasing Everyone?
As a writer, I have learned you can’t please everyone. Some will love your writing and some won’t. The thing you have to realize is that that’s okay. You don’t have to strive to make everyone happy and if you do then you will just be disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Push to write the best story you can and don’t let the few that want to bring you down achieve their goal. Shrug it off and move on.

Tough Skin?
This year I think my Rhino skin finally hardened. Tough crits tend to bother me less. I read them, absorb the information and decide what works and what doesn’t. A crit isn’t a personal attach on you or at least it shouldn’t be. There is a difference between a tough crit and a nasty mean crit. If someone is mean and nasty to you then they probably aren’t the crit partner for you anyway. Now I live for a tough crit. It makes me a stronger writer.

Writer Friends?
Writers are the closest knit group of people I have ever met. I am blessed with the best writing buddies on the planet. They are always there for me through the good and the bad. Thanks for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Sometimes you need someone on the outside of your family to lift you up.

Characters Are More Than Words On a Page?
Characters are so much more than words on a page. We breathe life into them. In our minds we nurture and care for them as they grow. They are like our children and hold a very near and dear place in our hearts. We raise them and let them go out into the world with hopes that others will love them as much as we do. Only another writer would understand the bond we make with our characters. So love them and then set them free.

Writing Rules?
Writing rules can drive you mad especially when you don’t understand them. I struggled with them until I took a writing course. I recommend all new writers take a good writing course. But after you have learned the rules that is where the trouble starts. Sometimes you have to shut off your internal editor and just write. The rules will be there when you go to edit. That little voice can really stifle your creativity. I know I am the worst when it comes to ignoring that screaming voice in my head. Just hit the off button and move on. After all, if you don’t have a story there is nothing to edit anyway. Right?

Rough Draft?
Your rough draft should be sloppy. That’s why it is called a rough or first draft. Get your story down and worry about the rest when you are done. I am almost done with my first draft of Soul Extraction and it feels great. I have about five more chapters to go. I have never been so excited about my writing. It is really raw and will need a lot of work but to say I have a completed first draft has me doing a little jig. LOL! Give yourself permission to write with out bounds and you will have a first draft in no time. I also don’t get crits until I am done with my first draft. Of course, that is just my method. If I start getting crits then I keep going back to fix things and never finish. But some find crits help them push on so it all depends on what works for you. Find your nitch and stick with it. As writers, we are creatures of habit.

Listen to Your Story and Characters?
I learned this with Soul Extraction and unfortunately the hard way. I was determined it was going to be a paranormal romance and kept trying to fit in that little perfect box. Well, needless to say it all came to a stand still and I had no clue why. I stressed over it for weeks and then it hit me that it wasn’t the story it was me. If I had just listened, I would have realized it is a paranormal suspense and not a paranormal romance. So I stopped pushing the romance part of the story and it all fell into place. Now, don’t get me wrong it has romantic elements but isn’t a straight romance. For some reason I had told myself you are a romance writer and you can’t write anything else. Crazy but true. Don’t let this happen to you give yourself permission to listen to your story and your characters. They will guide you if you let them.

Read often and be sure to read what you write. Think of it like studying, the only difference is you will enjoy it so much more than when you were in school. Who can actually say they need to buy another book? Guess what? We can and we can justify it too. When I get a bad case of writers block, all I have to do to chase it away is to open a great book and it is history. My imagination takes flight and I am back to thinking up all those crazy plot twist that run rapid in my stories.

Spend Time with The People That Are Important In Your Life?
What? I have a novel to write. I know I told myself this for a very long time. Then my poor husband told me it was getting to be too much. So now, I try not to get too tied up in my writing. It is a continuous struggle but I try to make a conscious effort. And yes sometimes I fail miserably. Tell the people close to you that you love them. They deserve your attention too. I think this is a problem all writers experience. It is so easy to engulf ourselves in our made up world we forget the real world until it slaps us in the face. Writing can be a lonely profession so cherish those around you that want to spend time with you. They are the ones that will support you through all the ups and downs you will experience as a writer. It would be a sad thing to have no one to tell you just got that big contract.

I wish you all the best in the coming year. All I can say is writing is a process and you learn as you go. The more you write the better you will get. Two years ago I had no clue what it took to write a novel. My head was in the clouds and I thought you just wrote the story, everyone would love it and that was that. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn. It was a tough lesson but worth every trial and tribulation, I suffered. Between my writing course and some really amazing crit partners, I have grown by leaps and bounds. Thank you all so much. I don’t know where I would be without you. I’m truly blessed to have such great friends. For the new writers out there I have one word of advice. Surround yourself with other writers that will support you through the good and the bad. I am not going to lie to you. There will be bad time, but in the end, there are so many good times that you will cherish. Believe in your dreams and don’t ever give up. You will get there if you believe it in your heart. The greatest trait a writer can possess is persistence.

What have you learned this year?

Happy New Year!


Brenda said...

Seems like 2010 was year of learning for the both of us. The list of what I've learned is too long to write here, lol.
Happy New Year to you, Tabby, and may 2011 bring you much success!

D'Ann said...

Good post. Happy New Year!

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

Great Post Love your list...
Happy New Year

martha ramirez said...

Awesome post. Looks like you learned a lot;) happy new years! And yep I have the best writing buddies ever too;)

Tabitha Blake said...

Thanks. Yes 2010 was big wake up call for me as a writer but I'm better for it. Hope you all have a great New Year as well. May we all become better writers and to thoughs that aren't published may we add that title this year.

She said...

I enjoyed your post. I've learned that you have to follow your heart. Your heart will find your passion. Once it does it is amazing how animated you become by that passion. My passion is books-reading, not writing. I get so excited when I read a good book that I want everyone to know about it. I love discovering new authors and rediscovering old friends. I love to see what is coming out and what I have missed and want to read. I've also learned in the past few years that as I get older, life gets better. I am so blessed.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Well said Tabby. 2010 taught me how to rhino-line my skin too. Perfection must go in hand with pleasing everyone because not only is it impossible, someone will never be satisfied either! The friends I made this year have been the best ones ever. The level of encouragement is astounding. Thank you to everyone (& you know who you all are!) for helping me become the writer I've always wanted to be. I've learned thru trial & error - mostly error - how to balance my family life with my working and writing life. It's not easy, sort of like spinning plates on sticks. But if anything falls & breaks, I know I have my buddies to help me clean up and get back on track. Happy New Year!