Friday, October 3, 2008

Notes on Writing - Margaret Daley

Crucial Little Nuts & Bolts of Writing


I wanted to discuss some of the “nuts and bolts” of this writing business. Some of my observations and lessons I’ve learned over the twenty-eight years I have been writing.


1. Talent is important but equally or more important is perseverance with some luck thrown in.


2. Rejection is part of writing and sending your work out. We have to learn to move on and not let it stop us from writing. I have seen some very talented writers give up because of rejection (refer back to number one). Have a support group to help you through the rejections. We all need it from time to time. You should see my file of rejections!


3. Set a schedule to write. If not, it is easy to get sidetracked. Life happens.


4. The second sale is often harder than the first. It doesn’t get any easier after you sell the first book. The good part of this is that it keeps you on your toes and hopefully makes you a better writer. Don’t stop trying to improve your craft.


5. Deadlines are important to make. I can’t stress that enough. We are professionals and want to be treated as professionals.


6. Networking is important and can open doors for you whether it is through a conference, chapter meeting or online groups.


7. Critique groups can be good but remember the book is yours ultimately and you have to decide what advice to take or not take.


8. No agent is better than a bad agent.


9. Learn when to give up on a project and move on to a new one. I have heard of some writers working on the same book for years--polishing and polishing it. Learn to let go.


10. This business is subjective. One editor may not like your writing while another may. So don’t give up on a project because of one rejection (refer back to number one).


11. This business is cyclical. What is popular today, may not be tomorrow.


12. Take time for yourself and be aware of the signs of burnout. Stress will take its toll on you and your family.


13. Think twice before quitting your day job. This business is so unpredictable. I realize a day job can get in the way of writing sometimes (I have one) but there is value in having a job outside the home. I have gained a lot from working that I use in my writing. I interact with students and people who have enriched my writing and observations.


14. When something is bothering you about your book, listen to that inner voice. I have found it is usually right whether it is a plot element, the structure of a sentence, or a piece of dialogue.


15. One way to see if your story (especially the dialogue) reads well and is naturally sounding is to read it out loud or use one of those computer programs to read your manuscript to you. With dialogue listen to the people you encounter. Be careful about using a thick accent. It can stop your reader when she is reading your story. You don’t want the reader to stop to figure out what the character was trying to say. Also, unless your character is a foreigner, we use contractions a lot in America in our dialogue.


16. Have fun with your writing. It will show in your work.


17. Research. It shows if you don't. But don't feel you have to put everything in the book that you discover when you research. That shows, too.


Margaret Daley has been married to her husband, Mike, for over 35 years. “He is my support and my best friend,” the author says. A teacher, Margaret loves working with students with special needs. She also participates in Special Olympics as a coach with her students. She is a mother of one, a son named Shaun. When she’s not working, she loves to read, travel, and go to lunch and a movie with a friend.


www.margaretdaley.com

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