“Don’t be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.”
— Gene Fowler
[GUEST BLOG by Rachel Newman]
I find great joy and fulfillment in helping authors learn to convey their ideas in clear and precise ways while still preserving their individual voices. When I first started editing, I wasn’t sure if I cared too much about penning my own stories. My heart was for others; and besides, I wasn’t sure I had a story to tell.
So it was with great surprise and excitement that my story came in the middle of my personal Bible study with God. I was reading a familiar passage when images, people, and places appeared in the world of my imagination; and I knew I had to write them down.
Delving into my own work in progress (“WIP”) has given me greater insight into the struggle that authors go through. By the time their manuscripts arrive in my inbox, they have poured months and sometimes years into bringing their pages to life. They have revised and rewritten multiple times and they are finally ready for a final polish. It is a vulnerable place to be—to have a professional handle your work with the intent on improving it.
But if you are still neck-deep in your first draft, you may wonder if you will even get to that point. Life can be full of obligations and responsibilities, and your writing can sometimes fall into last priority. Or maybe you have plenty of time to write, but the words you need are MIA.
The following have helped me survive the discouragement, the weight, and even the elation of composing that first draft. I hope these will help you too.
Editing uses a different part of your brain than writing does. When you are in the creative mode, you don’t need to think about whether your sentence structure is correct or even if you are using the right words. Just tell the story. You will edit it later.
You may not have the time to sit in front of the computer for hours every day; but if you write a little every day, it accumulates. All those days you would have said, “I’ll wait until I have enough time” turn into useful stepping stones to that finished product.
When I first started my WIP, I would allow weeks and sometimes months to pass before I would pick it back up. I was waiting for large blocks of time in which I could get substantial work completed. At one point, an author friend challenged me to write one page a day and I took him up on that challenge.
The problem was, I wasn’t always able to be at my computer long enough to hammer out a page. So I came up with a solution that worked for me. I carried around a diary everywhere I went and anytime I was able, I wrote down the story by hand. My goal was one page a day. That small diary page may not seem like a lot, but at the end of a very stressful, full day, it was doable. As each day passed, the story took shape and slowly, but surely, became a reality—all thanks to my friend who challenged me. That leads into my next point.
…who will challenge you, encourage you, and ask you about your WIP. These friends can be found in a writers’s group, at church, or in writing forums online. It is important they be trustworthy and want you to succeed.
The last—and most important thing to keep in mind—is that you are not on your own with this draft. You have been made in the image of God, and He has given you this story. Since He is outside of time, He has already seen your completed work; He knows how the story ends, and how you are going to get there. Anytime you find yourself at a loss for words, return your mind to the place of His presence. Meditate on His love.
1 John 4:10 tells us: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
In His presence, your sins are erased. There is nothing between you and His love. He has opened His mind to yours and joined your spirits together. In that place, your story will continue. Your efforts fall away, and His strength becomes your sustaining force.
These are the things that keep me plowing ahead, excited to see how the story unfolds. What other strategies have you discovered to help you finish your WIP?
I would love to meet you! Join me May 1–2, 2015 in Austin, Texas at PENCON 2015, the only convention for Christian editors. Learn how to enter the editing field or enhance an already established business. Network with other editors, and meet with the speakers one-on-one. Visit: thechristianpen.com.
Editing Addict’s Billi Joy Carson is joining A Book’s Mind in a free webinar on June 19, 7pm (AZ time). Come join her as she shares about the editing process, and discusses its value in the publishing industry.
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