The Third Draft! We’re Almost There!

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Yes, I took another long hiatus. Summer tends to have this effect on me. But, I am back and I have big news!

I am now working on the third (and hopefully final) draft of my novel. I completed the second draft in July, and am now seventeen chapters into my edit. Between hand edits and the help of amazing editing tool ProWriting Aid, I am well on my way to producing the best work that I can.

Like usual, everything is taking longer than I thought, so this means my book will not hit the market until 2020. If all goes according to plan, I would love to put it out there to coincide with the anniversary of when I began working on the first draft in earnest, which would be mid-March. If not, April would be perfect too.

I will try to update this blog more frequently. You might get some posts about editing! Stay tuned and Happy Autumn!

What To Do When You Doubt Your Writing

Feeling down about your work? Read this.

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*** Originally written for The Odyssey Online in 2017 .***

Every writer doubts their work at some point or another. Maybe you received feedback from someone that was overly harsh or downright rude. Or your inspiration dried up, leaving you feeling desperate and defeated, or maybe you just can’t see the value in your own words. Whatever the reason, all writers encounter these things at some point in their writing careers.

We all fall prey to negativity sometimes and feel discouraged. But, you cannot allow that to stop you from being a writer.

Say that aloud: I cannot allow doubt to stop me from being a writer.

I am guessing that you did not start writing to please other people. I am guessing that you started writing because you felt an uncontrollable urge to translate your daydreams onto paper, that you had a love affair with words since you were a child, that writing gave you a joy unlike any other. If I am right, then you have no valid reason to quit.

It’s no secret that first drafts generally suck and that any piece of writing needs to be reworked at least once to make it the best it can be. Sometimes you will get rough criticism and other times it will be accurate. (It is possible to have haters of course and those sorts you should just ignore.) This is all part of the game. But you have to believe in what you are doing. You have to write for writing’s sake. That’s an essential part of becoming a successful writer, or really a successful anything in this world.

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If you are feeling epic doubt, pinpoint exactly why. If it was due to negative criticism, be honest and ask yourself if the person who gave it to you has a point. Maybe your character really is one-dimensional or the ending does seem contrived. If you can see the flaw, you can fix it and move on. If you determine the reader either misunderstood or just doesn’t like you or your work for some reason, disregard it.

If you feel like your writing is garbage no matter what, you have to ask some different questions. Do you feel this way because you feel inferior across the board in your life? Did you never learn how to receive compliments or believe in yourself? These are things that frequently are not taught to us and can leave us floundering as adults.

Do you perhaps need to stop comparing yourself to authors who won Nobel prizes for literature? Comparing yourself constantly to others is a surefire way to inhibit your growth and make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t even compare yourself to writer friends you have. They are not you.

Bottom line: The road to success is not an easy one, but not an unnavigable one either. Keep at it. Others have done it and you can too.

 

Write on!

 

Images by Pixabay.

Why You Should Join A Writing Group

Five reasons every writer should belong to a critique group.

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*** Originally written for The Odyssey Online in 2017 . ***

The very title of this post probably has some of you cringing. Join a writing group? Where I actually have to let others read my writing, or worse yet, read my writing out loud to people who might not like it? Shiver. I could never!

Ah, but you can—and you should! I have belonged to a writing critique group for around nine years and have been moderating that group for at least four. During this time, I have learned a great deal from my fellow group members. Without further ado, here are some reasons you should seek out a critique group—and, you know, actually go to the meetings. 😀

1. It Will Hold You Accountable

We all know writers love to procrastinate. Attending a writing group will force you to produce consistently.

2. You Will Learn How to Take Criticism.

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As a writer, learning to take criticism is a must. We often don’t see the flaws in our own work, so other people need to point them out for us. Helpful group members will be respectful but honest about your work and you will grow accustomed to receiving real feedback.

3. It Will Help Keep You Inspired

Nothing fuels inspiration like reading or listening to other people’s work, which is what you will be doing in a writing group.

4. You Will Make Human Connections

Writing can be a lonely craft. Meeting other writers will get you out of your own head and you may even make new friends, or meet people who work in other fields related to writing, such as editors or publishers.

5. It Will Sharpen Your Editing Skills

Critiquing other people’s writing will help hone your own editing skills, which will make you a better writer. Win/win situation.

So where can you find a writing group? Your local library or college are usually good places to start. So get up and get going! You owe it to yourself!

 

Write On!

Cover Image Credit: Pixbay

Hemingway Was Right: The First Draft Really Is Excrement

There is no such thing as a perfect first draft.

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*** Originally written as an article for The Odyssey Online in 2017. ***

Ernest Hemingway, prolific writer of the 20th century, had some truly great writing wisdom. One of my absolute favorite Hemingway quotes appears in the 1984 memoir by Arnold Samuelson titled, “With Hemingway. A year in Key West and Cuba.” Apparently, Ernest told Samuelson that “the first draft of everything is shit.” Why do I like this snippet of dialogue so much? Because it is a simple bit of brilliance that often goes overlooked by aspiring writers.

It is the first draft that trips up many amateur writers. To be sure, it starts off on a magnificent note. All at once, you are thunderstruck by an idea. You spend weeks, months, maybe even years writing your brimming heart out with an unshakable faith that this is it, the next great American novel, your ticket to a publishing contract and a loyal fan base. At long last, your dream is in sight. When you’re finished, you reward yourself with a Malibu Bay Breeze (or four), a ridiculous-sized sundae, or a shopping spree. You take a few weeks off to bask in well-earned glory, then begin the rewrite.

And that’s when your heart sinks like a stone cast into a murky lake. The more you read, the more panic-stricken you become. Your masterpiece, your beloved, your precious, is a mess. Not a chocolate-chip-pancake-that-fell-on-the-floor-as-you-were-flipping-it mess either. Actually, it’s more of a train wreck. It is off the track at best, and twisted into only a bizarre semblance of a story at worst.

All right, not all first drafts are that atrocious, but you understand what I am getting at. Feeling helpless and ashamed, you wonder how on earth you can repair this disaster of the written word. That feeling, that “sinking feeling,” builds and builds until you start to believe the worst, that your manuscript cannot be salvaged, and it would probably be in the world’s best interest if you ceased writing now, lest you burn an unsuspecting reader’s eyeballs with your God-awful rubbish and cause them to swear off books forever.

That’s when you need to take a deep breath and remember Hemingway’s quote. It’s why you should print it out and tape it to your laptop before you even type “Chapter One.” There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. No writer has ever written one and no writer ever will. The first draft is that first coat of nail polish that is streaky and uneven. The second draft is the second coat that evens it all out, takes it from “meh” to “glam,” earns compliments, and makes the time you set aside to do it worthwhile. No real writer escapes this part of the process. None of them.

So do not hit delete. Do not set fire to your pages in a display of drama and roast marshmallows over them while you sob over your incompetence. The prospect of turning coal into a diamond is a daunting one, and it may take a third or even a fourth draft to fashion your creation into a marketable product. But rest assured, it can be done. You have as much of a chance of becoming a bestseller as any other writer.

Write on!

 

Cover Image Credit: www.pixabay.com

The Curse of Perfectionism

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I never knew I was a perfectionist until recently. People had always told me I was too hard on myself, particularly with my writing, but I mostly ignored their words. As a matter of fact, I thought I was the furthest thing from a perfectionist. I routinely leave jewelry laying on my dresser, frequently lose shoes around the house, and

my car, well, looks like a traveling collection of water bottles and books rescued from library sales.

But yes, I realized I was a perfectionist–particularly with my writing.

Writers, and artistic people on the whole, tend to be their own worst critics. We shrink from criticizing other writers’ works, but are too happy to slice and dice our own. We mercilessly compare our words to those of other writers and then become convinced we will never write as well. Our writing group will tell us our novel is interesting and we will think they are just humoring us and that in reality our story is as interesting as a role of  generic brand toilet paper. I was no exception to this wicked self-criticism. I indulged in it freely. If I made a mistake, I would fill with embarrassment and obsess over it for hours or days afterwards. I would tinker with chapters or even e-mails at work repeatedly, afraid of someone catching a mistake and being revealed as…

As a human, maybe?

In an earlier post, I mentioned my relentless navel-gazing this summer. My tendency towards perfectionism became apparent and so did the remedy:

Let go. That’s right. I have no need to be perfect. I can certainly strive towards mastery, so long as I know I will never reach my goal. I will just enjoy the road I am traveling on. My desire for perfection was rooted deep in a longstanding inferiority complex where I thought I could prove myself good enough by aspiring towards some non-existent abstract idea. But perfection has nothing to do with self-worth.

So I have started letting go. And guess what? It feels amazing! I care enough about myself to give myself the space and grace to screw up without punishing myself. I am freer now to enjoy my creativity.

My advice to all writers and really anyone out there: give up the idea of perfection. It is an unattainable idea created by people, not a natural law. It will make you neurotic and bitter when you continuously fall short of perfection. This does not mean you should be a slacker. Strive for excellency, but acknowledge that you are at the end of the day a human and humans make mistakes. Do not build your self-worth around always being right or being a master of everything always doing everything yourself or rejecting help when offered. No one is keeping score. And if they are, cut them out of your life

Yes, I Am Back!

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I realize my last post was in April. I realize my goal to develop a social media presence and build an audience fell to pieces between the excitement of a long-awaited summer and numerous fun events. But I am resurrecting that goal here and now.

My second draft has not been progressing as much as I envisioned, mostly due to my own distractions and indecisiveness, but it is nevertheless progressing. I admit to spending much of this warm season navel-gazing and soul-searching and that time has at least brought me some solid revelations. I have also learned a little bit more on the writing/publishing front. For instance I discovered, courtesy of a fellow writer, that you can indeed create a quite professional looking book cover in Microsoft Word. I have also researched several self-publishing platforms and have settled on one to use. I also have a handful  of potential names under my hat for my publishing company. I will share with you once it is official. 🙂

I hope to get motivated enough again to finish this draft by New Year’s and hopefully put the book out within the next 365 days (from today). Rather than blog every day as I started out doing, I will probably be posting one to two times a month. I may try to upload a short story or two to Amazon, but cannot make any promises at this time.

If this is your first time reading my blog, welcome. If you were following me and are reading my words again after this long hiatus, thank you! Either way, I am looking forward to sharing the journey.

**Oh, and my display name (and the name that will appear on my books) has changed to K.A. Moscatello.**

Write on!

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