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message 1: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. there’s a mental block there that makes me doubt myself.
I blame the language barrier but the truth is I’m just afraid that whatever I write will be pure crap that no one will truly enjoy.

Anyone ever feel like that?
How did you gather yourself?


message 2: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I do feel like that. All the time.
I just keep writing. Put it away for a time and come back to it when I feel I can edit better. Sometimes, I leave it as is. Whatever you do, save it, no matter the format.


message 3: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Alexis wrote: "Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. there’s a mental block there that makes me doubt m..."


Alexis...

Assuming you're done your "homework" and have a sense of the genre in which you are writing, and given everyone (well, almost everyone (the rest are insane)) have self-doubts, my advice is two-fold:

1. Plunge ahead and finish one book. Pick one. Pick the one in which you love the story, the characters, whatever, the best. Just plunge ahead and finish it.
2. Find a good content editor and let them show you how to turn it into the sparkling gem it has the potential to be.

A great content editor opened my eyes in 2009, and I never looked back.

Ted

PS Yesterday, here, I saw someone offering their services as a content editor (or something along those lines). You might want to have a chat with her. T


message 4: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Here's the post:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Talk to her about "developmental" editing and her other offerings.


message 5: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Theodore wrote: "Alexis wrote: "Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. there’s a mental block there that m..."



Ooh, great advice Ted, thank you. A content editor sounds interesting, but how do you find someone who really knows their stuff and is not too expensive?

I have one book with over 65,000 words.
Another at 40,000.
Another at 20,000.
It’s depressing.


message 6: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Stephanie wrote: "I do feel like that. All the time.
I just keep writing. Put it away for a time and come back to it when I feel I can edit better. Sometimes, I leave it as is. Whatever you do, save it, no matter t..."


Thanks Stephanie. I pretty much stopped writing in 2017 (got a job, ranted about politics..) but I just REALLY want to be a published writer so I’m back at it. Again. Hopefully.


message 7: by Amy (last edited Jan 03, 2018 05:15AM) (new)

Amy Hamilton | 2560 comments Here's the thing. I know I have talent too. I have doubts every day. I know I'd have more confidence if I had an editor. However the fact of the matter is, to edit my latest book would cost £300+ for 47k. This probably isn't considered to be much. I just don't have it. End of story. Every penny I have and every penny I earn this year is going towards getting our daughter into uni in September. I want both my kids to have the chances I didn't. If editing happened to cost fifty quid I'd consider it, but it doesn't, it costs a lot more than that, and probably rightly so. I don't believe in people offering their services for peanuts in the same way as I don't believe I should be giving everything I write away for free.

I would also go with the pick one and finish it approach. In the end, last year with two being serialised at the same time, I had to take a break from one to get the other one finished. Pick your favourite.


message 8: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Amy wrote: "Here's the thing. I know I have talent too. I have doubts every day. I know I'd have more confidence if I had an editor. However the fact of the matter is, to edit my latest book would cost £300+ f..."

Oh, I’m a starter with college debt too lol (oversharing, sorry) so I know that sometimes 300pounds can seem like 300000. Thank you for the advice, I will pick my favorite today.
(Hopefully it’s also the one I think might sell more.)


message 9: by Amy (new)

Amy Hamilton | 2560 comments I don't think it's oversharing. I think it's realistic. People seem to take it for granted that indies have hundreds of pounds sitting around that they can throw at getting a book out. I am under the distinct impression that there are people who are used to having disposable income. The last recession finished that off for us. It is very hand to mouth at the moment.


message 10: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Amy wrote: "I don't think it's oversharing. I think it's realistic. People seem to take it for granted that indies have hundreds of pounds sitting around that they can throw at getting a book out. I am under t..."

That’s true. It bugs me when people attack writers for not hiring editors, or buying fantastic looking covers. Sometimes putting out a product as best as you can even though it’s imperfect is the only way to fulfil a dream.

I do hope things pick up for you in 2018 though!


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy Hamilton | 2560 comments Thanks. And I hope you get one finished. I’m desperately putting off finishing my fourth for some unknown reason.


message 12: by Theodore (last edited Jan 03, 2018 06:43AM) (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Alexis wrote: "Theodore wrote: "Alexis wrote: "Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. there’s a mental b..."


Okay, I've read everything above, so this isn't a shot in the dark. Yes, editors cost money. So does everything else that has something of worth. Few of us are gifted enough to be good at everything. I've done a lot in my life--tinker sailer soldier spy--well, maybe not the last one, but close to it one time, and in any event, when it came to my first book, I peeled off a portion and hired a developmental editor who taught English at a community college to "pump up" the text, so to speak. It opened my eyes as she took the book and the characters from two to three dimensions. You don't have to have an entire text treated---ask for 10,000 or 20,000 works to be edited...just enough to open your eyes to the possibilities. And you do NOT want a simple edit...you want someone like the woman I mentioned above (and I do NOT know her) who can take your material and spin gold. You want an "orchestrator" to take that tune you've put down on paper and create the orchestral arrangement. (Oh, well, you understand what I'm saying...and you don't have to hear the entire concerto to learn how to do some of those things for yourself.)

Look around for developmental editors...look at their backgrounds, look at their products, ask their clients...then, pick one of your books or a portion of one, and get to work with your preferred editor. It will be money well spent. Better than wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.


message 13: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Amy wrote: "I don't think it's oversharing. I think it's realistic. People seem to take it for granted that indies have hundreds of pounds sitting around that they can throw at getting a book out. I am under t..."

Amy, I sure hope you didn't think I was attacking anyone for not spending money on an editor. I was only saying that in my experience, the developmental editor I hired on my first book opened my eyes to a whole new realm of writing and basically kickstarted my career. We all make decisions in our lives and allocate our resources accordingly. Putting our coins in one place necessarily denies them to another. We all understand that. I chose to put some on a developmental editor, and I never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I ever made as a writer.


message 14: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Theodore wrote: "Alexis wrote: "Theodore wrote: "Alexis wrote: "Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. the..."


I will certainly do this!
I need to stop taking myself so seriously and just publish the d*** thing lol.


And even though I’m not Amy, you certainly didn’t come across as attacking anyone. :)


message 15: by Amy (new)

Amy Hamilton | 2560 comments No not at all Ted, you’ve always been very supportive. But editing for me is currently out of the question so I either publish what I can do myself or I give up.


message 16: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Thanks, ladies. Was just trying to help. Be even the smallest amount of editing can help, if only to catch the "oh s---" errors that are so off-putting to readers. Sad but true: you only have one chance to make a first impression. I am constantly amazed at what my editor--who works for free books--turns up. Sometimes I just want to scream!


message 17: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Theodore wrote: "Thanks, ladies. Was just trying to help. Be even the smallest amount of editing can help, if only to catch the "oh s---" errors that are so off-putting to readers. Sad but true: you only have one c..."

YESSS, Ted. It’s the fact that we only have one chance to make a first impression which drives me nuts. I need to get this first book right!!!


message 18: by Alex (new)

Alex Carver | 4620 comments I don't have any advice to offer, Alexis, I just want to say I'm glad you're still around and still determined to get something published. Keep at it and you'll get there.


message 19: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Alexis wrote: "Theodore wrote: "Thanks, ladies. Was just trying to help. Be even the smallest amount of editing can help, if only to catch the "oh s---" errors that are so off-putting to readers. Sad but true: yo..."

Well, close to "right." Perfection is the enemy of pretty good. Only G-d can make something perfect, which is why I always leave a few typos in my books. (;>)


message 20: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Alex wrote: "I don't have any advice to offer, Alexis, I just want to say I'm glad you're still around and still determined to get something published. Keep at it and you'll get there."

Thanks Alex!
I need to catch up on everyones work. :)


message 21: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman | 4580 comments Mod
All great advice from everyone here- I think an editor is really a good investment, especially if English is not your first language.
You are creative enough to do the cover and people are here to help with anything else.

If you were writing it in Dutch, I'd say you could use the equivalent of Grammarly and feel secure with what you know and the program that you've got it right.

I'm here to help if you need it, though. (but I never get my own grammar correct either)


message 22: by Dale (last edited Jan 03, 2018 09:31AM) (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1693 comments Alexis wrote: "Anyone ever feel like that? How did you gather yourself?"

I'm going to be a little different here. First, to answer your questions:

1. Yes. I felt like that for 10 years, during which time it kept me from writing any fiction at all.

2. I got over it, eventually, after 10 years, by just doing it. I got an idea and I started writing and I wrote a bit every day (well, not every day but most days) until it was done. And then the revisions started, and I kept going and got some other ideas and wrote them down, and now I have two works published, one soon to be released, one more searching for an agent, and two more being written. I found that once I put everything else aside and just wrote because I wanted to write, it more or less came together all by itself.

With every single novel I write, there comes a point when I look at it and think that some part of it (at least) isn't good enough. Every single time. This isn't uncommon or unexpected. It's part of the process. Most if not all writers feel that way. You just have to learn to not let that feeling stop you. Instead, put it to work for you. Ask why something isn't good enough and what can be done to fix it. Don't stop with, "This isn't good enough!" Make it the starting point for concrete action.

Ray Bradbury famously had a writer character in one of his novels say, "Throw up in the typewriter every morning. Clean it up every noon." That's basically it. Get the story down first. Of course it's not going to be perfect--or sometimes even very good--the first time. That's what revisions are for. And more revisions and more revisions. And that's before you go to an editor! One writer I recently interviewed on my blog said he did 17 drafts of his first novel before he thought it was ready to go.

Writing is hard work, see. But if you have to do it, then you have to do it, and maybe sometimes it won't seem so hard while you're doing it, because you love doing it and you just have to do it.

I read in the long ago that a writer needs to write one million words before they're actually good at writing. The number isn't important. The concept is. Like any complex job, it takes a lot of practice and experience before you can do it really well.

Take me for example. I wrote short stories for probably 20 years (with a lot of savage input from my wife, who is also my editor), then wrote an almost-novel (it wasn't quite long enough to be a novel), then wrote four novels, and by then I was starting to get feedback from editors to whom I've submitted. They never give feedback unless they see promise in a writer; they don't have the time. So getting feedback meant I was getting somewhere!

Just when I thought I might be about to make a sale, I ran afoul of a con artist disguised as an agent. That's what led to my 10 year dry spell. Since restarting, I've written four novels and I only now feel that I'm as good as or maybe a little better than I was when I stopped. It's just like exercise. Do it consistently for long enough and you'll be in good shape. Stop doing it and you'll get flabby again, and then it will take more time to get back into shape.

So yes, writing is hard work and takes a lot of practice to do well. From what I've seen, most indies publish way too soon, before they've collected the rejection slips (so to speak) that make them better writers. But here's the thing, which I've already said: if you have to write, then you have to write, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.

So just write. And write. And write some more. And don't let that inner critic silence you. Put it to work for you. Ask it what the problem is and how it would fix the problem. And then fix it and keep on going.

In spite of being long-winded, I hope this helps. ;-)


message 23: by Alexis (last edited Jan 03, 2018 10:27AM) (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Dale wrote: "Alexis wrote: "Anyone ever feel like that? How did you gather yourself?"

I'm going to be a little different here. First, to answer your questions:

1. Yes. I felt like that for 10 years, during wh..."


http://78.media.tumblr.com/58ff52e2e5...

Thank you. :’)
*cracks fingers*


message 24: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Carole wrote: "All great advice from everyone here- I think an editor is really a good investment, especially if English is not your first language.
You are creative enough to do the cover and people are here to..."


Thanks Carole. Actually Dutch isn’t my first language either.
I speak Papiamentu (bwahaha, bet you’re going to be googling that :] )


message 25: by Alex (new)

Alex Carver | 4620 comments I did, Portuguese based Creole language from the Dutch-West-Indies.
I now feel like I need to come up with a character from that region just so I can use Papiamentu in a book and confuse my readers, and maybe sound smart because of it, hehehehe.


message 26: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Alex wrote: "I did, Portuguese based Creole language from the Dutch-West-Indies.
I now feel like I need to come up with a character from that region just so I can use Papiamentu in a book and confuse my reader..."


Yess! You get a car, you get a car, you get a car!!

Clears throat. So yes, I see Wikipedia was helpful again :p
Oohh you should totally do that. We have insane killers in the region too, like that evil sob Joran van der Sloot.


message 27: by Alex (new)

Alex Carver | 4620 comments I normally like to run at least a double-check against Wikipedia info but I think I can trust it in this case, lol.
I'm cogitating now, I just wish I felt more up to writing fresh stuff, I'm too stuck with old books I'm trying to get published.


message 28: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman | 4580 comments Mod
Alexis wrote: "Carole wrote: "All great advice from everyone here- I think an editor is really a good investment, especially if English is not your first language.
You are creative enough to do the cover and peo..."


I did it the first time you mentioned it way back when I met you. hahahha. I just wasn't sure if Dutch was also...like a first language. You are brilliant, Alexis. I barely speak English. You should see what the editors have said about my grammar.


message 29: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Rebecca Shaw | 6 comments Alexis wrote: "Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. there’s a mental block there that makes me doubt m..."


I had an idea for a book and was convinced that I knew exactly how to write it but when I tried, it just wouldn't flow. I gave up on that book for a while and tried a book in a completely different genre to see if I could actually write a book. I was surprised at how fast that one flowed out of me. I am still working on that first book over two years later and have written four books in the meantime.


message 30: by Marie Silk (last edited Jan 03, 2018 04:41PM) (new)

Marie Silk | 208 comments Alexis wrote: " I’m just afraid that whatever I write will be pure crap that no one will truly enjoy.

Anyone ever feel like that?"


Every time. Sometimes you don't know how your book will be received until you put it out there. Some people say my book is the worst they've ever read, some others enjoy the books enough to email me messages of thanks and questions about when more books are coming. The rejection was really difficult to take at first. It still is. Sometimes I feel too discouraged to write anything else for fear of rejection. I have to remind myself that my books won't be for everyone, but they will probably be for someone.


message 31: by Erica (new)

Erica Graham (erica_graham) | 1490 comments Mod
Alexis wrote: "Carole wrote: "All great advice from everyone here- I think an editor is really a good investment, especially if English is not your first language.
You are creative enough to do the cover and peo..."


Haha. Just came back from looking it up, then wished I had read one more comment because Alex explained it. I think there is a lot of great advice here already. Just wanted to chime in and wish you good luck. You got this! ;)


message 32: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Marie Silk wrote: "Alexis wrote: " I’m just afraid that whatever I write will be pure crap that no one will truly enjoy.

Anyone ever feel like that?"

Every time. Sometimes you don't know how your book will be recei..."


I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read any reviews! Although its a bit selfish, I’m glad you too feel the nerves after publishing so many books lol.

And you’re right; I need to start getting comfortable with the idea that not everyone will enjoy my books and just finish the things!


message 33: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Alexis wrote: "Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. there’s a mental block there that m..."


Sucks doesn’t it? Let’s hope we both finish thta first one this year!


message 34: by Theodore (last edited Jan 03, 2018 01:27PM) (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1417 comments Alexis wrote: "Marie Silk wrote: "Alexis wrote: " I’m just afraid that whatever I write will be pure crap that no one will truly enjoy.

Anyone ever feel like that?"

Every time. Sometimes you don't know how your..."


No, not everyone will enjoy your books. Even worse, not every one will even understand them. It's called the "intentional fallacy." Readers will think (!) they know what the author's "intent" was in writing what they wrote, but not all will "get it" correct (or better, as intended).

We do the best we can.

Frankly, as indies, G_d's plan did not include making us rich. For some, however--those who enjoy writing--it might include making us happy.


message 35: by Karen (new)

Karen Eisenbrey | 18 comments Alexis wrote: "Oh, it felt so good to type that. I NEED HELP. :D

In the last few years I’ve started four books and finished zero.
I know I have talent.
I just.. there’s a mental block there that makes me doubt m..."


Early drafts are supposed to be crap! That's what the good stuff grows out of. What you write at first is only for you, to get it out of your head. You don't even have to write it in order! You can jump to a "fun part" if you're stuck. Once it's out, then you futz with it till it seems like something someone else might read. THEN you find readers you trust to give it to you straight, but kindly (other writers, editors, sometimes even family!) Then you keep working on it. You have to really like your story because you'll be reading it a lot.


message 36: by C.L. (new)

C.L. Lynch (cllynchauthor) | 210 comments Alexis, this was 100% me all the way until I discovered NaNoWriMo. Have you ever tried it?

NaNoWriMo taught me these things:

1. The first draft is supposed to suck. If your inner voice tells you this is garbage, tell it GOOD and keep writing.

2. You don't have to write it in chronological order. Get bogged down in the plot? Fine. Skip ahead to where you want the story to end up and write that big. Get stuck again? Skip ahead again. Connect the dots later.

3. It is much, much easier to fix a buggy manuscript that actually EXISTS than to try to manifest perfection in one go. Get something - anything - on paper. Then go back and fix it.

And if the problem is simply that you don't know where you want the story to go, try some plotting software like Beemgee.


message 37: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Thank you Karen and CL. Not to sound too sentimental but man, did you guys inspire me. I’m following your advice and writing again!!


message 38: by Karen (new)

Karen Eisenbrey | 18 comments Alexis wrote: "Thank you Karen and CL. Not to sound too sentimental but man, did you guys inspire me. I’m following your advice and writing again!!"

Wonderful! May your writing time be fruitful.


message 39: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Gorman | 12 comments Have you seen Oprah's speech at the Golden Globes yet? I'm not trying to be glib; go watch it. You will feel inspired. Of course, feeling inspired is temporary. I suggest some concrete successes to look back on. I'm biased because I'm a publisher and we're looking for some short fiction to publish on our blog right now, but maybe that would help you know you are the real deal once people are reading your work and enjoying it. If you think you might be interested, here are the details: http://bit.ly/2Ce3kzt


message 40: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 861 comments Benjamin wrote: "Have you seen Oprah's speech at the Golden Globes yet? I'm not trying to be glib; go watch it. You will feel inspired. Of course, feeling inspired is temporary. I suggest some concrete successes to..."

YES!!! I’ve seen it three times already.
Omg, I haven’t felt so inspired in ages.
I love her.
I adore her.
I wish she was here to guide my through life with her wisdom.
LOL.

Erhm so, yeah I’ve seen it. :)
Alright, I will check that out! Thank you


message 41: by R.L. (new)

R.L. Jackson (authorrljackson) | 856 comments Mod
That speech still has my skin goosebumped


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