Category - Editing

The Importance of Critique Groups

Pencil Shavings

I used to write in a bubble. I wouldn’t let anybody see anything I had written until I was sure it was complete. Complete to me then did not mean the same thing as it does to me now. And that is because I let others read my work, and not only that, I let them pick it apart and scribble red markings all over it (hypothetically, since it is normally over the Internet!). Having another person (or more than one) go over my writing and tell me what is missing, what is over-done, or what makes no sense at all is amazing. It allows for a finished story to be so much better than if I had done it all alone. Art is a community effort.

My experience with critique partners/groups started in college. I took a few creative writing classes and a requirement for each of those classes was to have your work critiqued and critique other student’s work. Some of the students didn’t care as much and only half-ass critiqued my work, but there were a select few that were excellent and those are the people who made me realize that I needed critiques.

Now that I’m no longer in school, I have my husband critique my work. He is amazing at it and sometimes he points out things that would have taken me forever to notice (it’s true what they say about more than one pair of eyes!), but I realized that I needed even more eyes.

In July, I found a website called Inked Voices. It is solely a critique site and you must pay a monthly fee to participate. I joined a few groups on the site and I have now narrowed it down to just one group of dedicated critiquers. I highly recommend Inked Voices if you are serious about the critiques you give as well as the critiques you wish to receive. Because the site is a paid service, I find that it culls out the people who are less likely to give proper/thorough critiques.

Regardless of how you come to have a critique group or partner, remember that they are not just there to give you a critique but for you to do the same for them! The great thing is, usually if you give great critiques, you’ll get great critiques in return!

Now, I need to go sign in to Inked Voices so I can get some critiquing done!

Happy writing!

Why It’s Important to Have At Least One Person Who Believes in You

My Husband

My husband is amazing. I truly wish that everyone could have someone like my husband in their lives. He believes in me when I can’t even believe in me.

I have been jobless and out of school for a year now. On purpose. My husband told me to quit my job over a year ago and when school got to annoying and I didn’t want to do it any more, he told me to quit that too. The reason? To write my heart out!

My full time writing experience started off really slow. How does one force themselves to work when there is no boss looking over their shoulder to make them? How does one balance the chores and writing? How does one not feel guilty all the time for making no money? I was writing a little bit, but I began to feel depressed, and not in the ooooo-this-will-fuel-my-writing type way. I also suffer from insomnia and it only gets worse when I am depressed/anxious/excited/you-name-it.

April’s Camp NaNoWriMo got me back on track for writing again (Although I didn’t even come close to reaching my goal), but again, after the month was nearly over, I began to feel like shit again. I had not yet finished a first draft, the chores were falling behind and I thought my stories sucked. By mid-summer, my husband had really begun to notice my lack of motivation (I had been trying really hard to hide it) and when he brought it up, I broke down. I told him I should just give up. That I should start looking for a job. That I would never finish anything at this rate. And he told me to calm the fuck down.

And I did. I put aside the depressing story I had been working on (dark fantasy isn’t the best thing to be writing when you are trying to stop being depressed…) and went back to another story I had already started. But, instead of continuing where I had left off, I began to edit my unfinished first draft. Oooooh dear. Every voice in my head that said my writing was crap and I would never finish anything began to sneak back in. They got louder and louder. It was now October and I knew that NaNoWriMo was next month, so once again, I chucked my current story aside and decided to start fresh. This one would be better. I told my husband that I would win NaNoWriMo and my first draft would be finished by December 31st. (Spoiler alert: It isn’t finished. Not even close. With only three days to go until my ridiculously planned deadline.)

Half way through November, I just stopped writing. My nephew had been born with a heart-defect and gone through his first surgery and the detrimental part of recovery and I had made myself write through it all, but then, once I knew he would be alright and once I knew my sister-in-law, her husband, and my nephew would be coming home soon, all of my exhaustion and fear caught up to me. I couldn’t write at all. And I just let it happen. NaNoWriMo was a failure.

Matt and Tucker

My husband with our nephew, Tucker!

 

Then December began, and my husband did the thing that would make me excited to get back to writing. He told me to print off every incomplete first draft I had ever written (except those first few, you know the ones. The ones that will never again see the light of day). I started printing them off and he began to read them. He was excited and his excitement made me excited. We decided together which one I should finish first and he began to edit it.

My husband's binder full of my writing.

My husband’s binder full of my writing.

 

He’ll be done editing it over the next few days, and then begins a new chapter of my full time writing adventure: Actually Finishing Something.

My advice for anyone struggling with their inner writing demons is to find someone in their life that will support them and their writing wholeheartedly. Someone who will read and review and edit, so that they will feel like their writing has worth. Because, spoiler alert, all writing has worth.

Scrivener! Ooooh, Wow!

scrivener logoI love Scrivener. Honestly, I do. I have had Scrivener for almost two years now (Two years in October to be exact. Well, not really exact because I don’t know the exact date. Exact.) aaaand I don’t know how I survived without it. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. Anyway, some of you may be asking, what is Scrivener?

Scrivener is a word processor on steroids. (cliche alert!) Instead of all of your writing being in one continuous uncategorized document. Or in multiple documents that get confusing when you have more then one or two open. Scrivener has all of those separate documents in one document except they are still separate, but together. Gooood description, Leetah… Anyway, you have your main ‘draft’ or ‘manuscript’ folder and then folders within that for chapters and then text documents for scenes. You can even make a text document be a folder and hold subscenes. Subscenes? Sure why not.

And on top of all this folder craziness, there is also a folder for your research. Now you can keep it all together within one document so you don’t have to spend hours searching for that one bit of information that you cannot remember where you saved it. And you can view your research at the same time as the document you are working on with the split screen function. Freaking awesome.

There are so many functions that Scrivener offers. And I honestly don’t even use them all, but that is another great thing about it. You don’t have to use every function. You can pick and choose the ones that work for you. For example, I love the ‘Project Targets’ pop up that I keep open at all times to check out my progress toward both my total word count goal and my session word count goal. Others may haaaate seeing how many words they still have left to go. But I hate not knowing!

I even use Scrivener for my website content. I am typing in it right now! I have year/month folders and within those I have my blog posts. I also have a ‘not yet posted’ folder for posts I have gotten ahead on. Or that I have just scribbled down an idea for. I just realized that I have not taken advantage of the research folder for my website content Scrivener document. How silly of me. Note to self: USE THE RESEARCH FOLDER.

scrivener screenshot

I truly believe that Scrivener is an indispensable tool for writers.

What writing tools do you use that you couldn’t imagine writing without?

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