5 Rules For Conquering Chaos That Every Writer Should Know

Frazelled Writer 2am.
How does an aspiring writer avoid the seemingly endless pitfalls and perils of a writing career when starting out?

The answer to this question is the subject of today’s guest post by Claudette Young.

Claudette Young

Claudette has written about craft for Wordsmith Studio and other venues, and has been through the ‘author mill’.  Based on her experiences she’s developed 5 Rules For Writers to make the journey easier, and kindly agreed to share them. 

It will be interesting to hear which of these rules affect you the most. Please do leave a comment at the end of the article.  

“When I began as a writer, no one sent me warnings about what to expect.
I understood that, as in any industry, hard work for success was a given.  I also knew there would be steep learning curves.  But beyond the study of the writing craft, I was utterly clueless.

iPad Kindles & Book

Beginning a writing career after the age of 50 creates its own challenges, such as the complexities of internet technology, let alone everything else a writer needs to know. (I can’t claim computer ignorance—too many years working for IBM.)

So how did I prevail?

The learning curve forced me to study.

At 50 I thought I must surely know it all. But after dipping my toes in the learning pool, I discovered something extraordinarily freeing: simply by knowing some basic rules and instructions, a novice could avoid falling into the cold, chaotic slush of the writing trenches.

To save other writers from this fate, I’ve assembled five basic rules to follow, drawn from the hard lessons learned as I fought my way out of the writing trenches.

5 Rules of Conquering Chaos For The Newbie

Rule #1: Know And Understand The Language Of The Industry

Anyone working in a specialty industry like publishing can appreciate the acronym-strewn communications mine-field traversed by the writer.

A glossary of everyday terms and their acronyms is a must. (See resources at the bottom of the post.) Whether the novice subscribes to publishing blogs and newsletters, or simply looks through articles in writer’s magazines, time is wasted when one can’t define terms used in the text.

notebook-shadSolution:  Keep a notebook handy!

Jot down any new term or acronym that passes in front of your eyes.  If the text doesn’t define its meaning, Google it. Chances are Google will give you not only a definition but also indicate how to use it properly.

Ask other writers for help if you come across something that confuses you.  This has worked far beyond expectations for me, and began several fruitful relationships with other writers I now consider friends.  I am no longer alone.

In fact, most writers have stumbled along the same potholed path as you and me, and are more than willing to clue you in.  Inquire about style manuals and learn the differences between them.  But if you still feel intimidated by asking for clarity, use Google to find a website that specializes in acronyms and other jargon currently in use.

Rule #2 Know Your Purpose

Weather VaneThis may sound silly, but if you don’t know what purpose you’re serving in the career you’ve chosen, why are you there?  Equate purpose with final goal.

Do you:

  • Want to write the tales that keep running around in your mind like squirrels looking for a nesting tree. Non-fiction, perhaps?
  • Want to become a working writer for a living.
  • Want to expand your influence by becoming a writing coach, editor, publisher, etc.
  • Want to make a million dollars and be the next mega-writing star.

Each of these is a goal and a purpose.  They are stages of writing development built on each other.  As with all career growth, the end has a beginning.

Where are you?

Rule #3 Know The Expectations Of Those Around You And The Industry You’ve Chosen.

Now that you’ve begun walking this road, take the time to ascertain the expectations of those around you, in both the fiction and non-fiction writing fields.

Are you:

S & W

  • Expected to have good grammar skills?  If you don’t already have them, acquire them, or join a critique group who can help you.
  • Expected to follow guidelines for your work? If so, strive to comply. You’ll get nowhere by bucking systems long established.
  • Expected to communicate clearly and with confidence?  If you have difficulties in this area, take a course or work with a mentor who can help you.
  • Expected to see each project through to completion on a deadline?  If you’re a writer, this is another critical factor.  If you’re writing for yourself and on speculation, you won’t have a deadline.  If you’ve promised to complete work for someone else at a specific date and time, do whatever it takes to make that deadline.  Your credibility as a writer depends on it.
  • Expected to deal well with rejection?  Every writer, engineer, scientist, or specialist comes up against rejection.  How you deal with it shows others your maturity and your professionalism.

These are just a few examples of the expectations every writer faces.  The sooner you learn them, the quicker your career will grow, and the faster your confidence will increase.

Rule #4 Be Gentle With Yourself!  Turn Off Self-Criticism And Grow A Thicker Skin.

WorryNobody likes rejection or criticism.

For all writers, including me I have to confess, self-doubt and self-criticism hovers on the edge of awareness at every turn.

Learning to switch off the ego allows freer creativity without threat of failure.  Rejection indicates that you’ve risked exposure to the world. With each exposure, you can grow a thicker skin, which armors you as an experienced writer in the future.

Take time to acknowledge that you cannot succeed without trying, and a 50-50 chance of success waits at the end of the trial.

Rule #5 Seek Personal Growth.

Throughout the learning curve is change.  Without change, entropy ensues, and with entropy comes stagnation.

DiceTake Risks!

Each risk is a tiny growth spurt.  Chances to take risks come in many guises: a new genre explored, an appreciation for how grammar works, a professional friend who likes how you think, or whatever growth experience it might be.

Remember that writers have always acted as the world’s Madam Curie or Marco Polo. They strive to continue developing skills in pursuit of their dreams.  They’re often misunderstood and ridiculed.  Through it all, they live their purpose, whatever form it takes.

Carve Out Your Place

The only way the novice writer becomes the old-hand is through perseverance, which brings me back to my starting point:


The learning curve is a road that never ends.  Today’s technology has ensured the relentless need for continuing self-education.

The publishing industry shifts with the day.  The Big Five publishing houses teeter on the brink of their own epiphanies with the advent of digital publishing and print-on-demand. And on these shifting sands, writers are rapidly taking control of their own publishing careers.


The Bottom Line

The truth is, if life hadn’t gotten in the way of this passion of mine, I would have jumped on this adventure much sooner and ridden its trail much farther.

And yet, here I am–a published poet, short story writer, content writer, and working on more large projects than I can contain on most days.

Embrace this revolution that swirls around us. Moreover, embrace yourself as you change and grow into the working writer.

Resources Available For Acronyms Peculiar To The Publishing Industry

For quick and dirty reference: Absolute Write Forums
The Book Designer – ISBN for Self Publishers
IFLA – Glossary of Terms  (PDF)
Wikipedia – Markup Language
Legal Dictionary – Publishing & Law
Purdue OWL – Abbreviations.

Guest article by Claudette Young.

Claudette YoungClaudette has written many articles, op-ed, travel, and children’s fiction for Yahoo News, fiction for both online and print magazines, and poetry for online magazines and print anthologies.

The first booklet in her “How-To Slay a Writer’s Dragon” series has just been released on Kindle.

Which of these rules resonates with you most, or causes you the greatest problems?  Do you run into any other ‘writer’ issues?  Please do leave a comment.

Notice:  This article is  copyrighted material.  © Copyright Bestseller Labs. Reproduction of brief snippets of this article with a link to this site are permitted, but it may not be reproduced in full anywhere without the written permission of Jonathan Gunson at BestsellerLabs.com

Download My FREE Guide To Getting Published And Increasing Your Book Sales...

Free Download

Includes the strategy I used to sell over 350,000 copies of my bestselling book ‘The Merlin Mystery’

Get The Free Guide
Privacy assured. Your email
address will never be shared


  • Liz Flavell says:
    December 4, 2013 at 7:52am

    The thing that has affected me more than anything else is what other people think, and it happens while I’m writing. My work which seems all bubbly when I make rough notes and write test passages and jot down lengthy ideas, loses all its sparkle when I do the ‘important’ work of ‘real writing’. Do you have any suggestions or ways to get around this?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 8:07am

      I know you’re asking Claudette to reply, and she’ll have her own views on this! But if I may point you to my ‘Writer’s Block’ article. It covers pretty much the challenge you face with your ‘fear of being judged’, and also has some shining optimism that should help as well. http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:15am

      Liz, I know what you’re talking about. I still struggle with it on a regular basis. What has helped me most–once I get past trying to be academically correct to the point of stiffness–is acknowledging that I’m not a mind-reader. How can I possibly know what someone else is thinking of what I write? Would I like someone putting thoughts into my head without my permission?

      I always smile at that last question. Instead I’ve learned–thanks to the patience of my critique groups and time–that what makes me smile usually causes the same response in others. I’m still having to remind myself to stop being so serious all the time when I’m putting words to paper.

      I hum to myself as I write, many times. It lightens my mood and reminds me why I’m writing at all. And that’s to have fun. Try it. You may like it as much as I do. Good luck in future. Let me know how you’re coming along.

      • December 4, 2013 at 11:52am

        What gets my goat is the impenetrable wall created by literary agents. Look at the long list of them in The Writers’ & Artists Guide 2013 and then read the comments about them (as a ratpack) posted on Amazon. They does’nt like this, they does’nt like that, and they all claim to be suffering from literary indigestion. The truth is that Amazon has made them obsolete for new writers. But what does the new writer find? There are so many badly written books out there to choose from that the carefully nurtured talents we acquire are largely immaterial! I read what you write avidly, but there is a lack of discrimination on the part of so many readers that true quality is easily overlooked and even slagged off. I fear that until Amazon is knocked off its perch, the situation will remain quite hopeless whatever we do. There is however such a thing as good luck!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          December 4, 2013 at 8:55pm

          I don’t think Amazon has made agents redundant, because the widely pervasive mentality of authors is ‘I just want to write and do nothing else.’
          Most of my writer friends still cling to the author dream of writing a book, being ‘discovered’ by an agent, then doing nothing further except being signed by a publisher who does everything else, such as printing, distributing to book stores, and mass marketing that turns their book into a bestseller.
          The majority still want someone to hold their hand in this way, and fair enough, because most do not have the business skills to do anything beyond writing. Unfortunately, the dream of a traditional agent and publisher deal is much more rare these days, so self publishing is the real solution. Nevertheless the majority of writers relentlessly, even religiously cling to the old author dream of ‘I just write and an agent and publisher do EVERYTHING else’ , which means that agents will always have potential clients and long term relevance.
          ~ Jonathan

          • December 6, 2013 at 3:01pm

            I promise you, that is not true in my case. I have conducted marketing campaigns in monitored waves, and personalised my submissions sufficiently well to warrant receiving personalised replies. But the result is always the same: a bland refusal to take matters further and a claim that “these decisions are of course always subjective.” I have a blog going, twitter regularly and a website. My time is currently dominated by marketing, but all I ever get is a wall of silence. Why would you think otherwise, when I have stated that I went as far as buying The Writes Yearbook for 2013?

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            December 7, 2013 at 3:11am

            Industry relationships take a great deal of time to build before you can use them, in particular with agents and publishing companies. It can take years. For example, Tim Ferris spent three years building dozens of relationships with agents, publishers and the media before making any formal approaches. With all of the contacts he had scores of communications to and fro, about subjects of joint interest, not about his book, until they actually knew each other.
            Rebecca Skloot hussled for 7 years in just the same way. See the Rebecca Skloot article here: http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-best-book-trailer-ive-seen-in-years/
            By contrast, communications from an unknown person, no matter how well ‘personalized’ will almost inevitably be met with the ‘wall of silence’ to which you refer because no prior relationship exists. They get thousands of requests, and they also don’t know you, so don’t feel obliged to reply. You may think they ‘should’ but unfortunately the reality is otherwise. Put more simply, the answer is for you to grow these relationships. In fact, I’ve covered the subject in the following blog post – about being noticed by bloggers, and it applies equally to agents and publishers. http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-get-massive-free-publicity-for-your-book/
            I hope this helps you to ‘break down the wall.’
            ~ Jonathan

        • Steven says:
          December 5, 2013 at 1:18pm

          As a self published author, I had the same opinions and concerns you made about how easy it is to publish crap. But as someone who (I’d like to think) is publishing good content, I’ve learned getting my book out in front of millions, heck even just a few hundred people is hard work in and of itself. Not only do I have to write the book but now I have to get people to even know it exists. I take comfort in knowing that those who will like my book will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, etc. and they will help get my book seen. By the same token, I know that if my book was crap, it’s not going to get seen, it’s going to get shot down by a lot of people who are more than willing to give it a one star and their opinion why it sucks. (I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t made crap yet, yay me!) , but if you think about it, it’s like Youtube. Every day, hundreds of thousands of videos go up, many of them junk… but it’s funny how one or two of them “go viral” and everyone is talking about that video. It’s the same thing… Don’t worry about what others think, write your own book, as best you can, get a great title, great cover and great editor and a great copy editor (someone who writes kick butt descriptions) and then let your book fly away into the world. Those who will love it will treasure it, those who won’t will probably pass on it and in the end, you’re doing what we all love doing… you’re writing.

          Good luck!
          Steven Wolff

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            December 5, 2013 at 11:35pm

            Great to hear ,and you’re on the money. My own work balance is 70% creative 30% marketing. Writing comes first, because word of mouth does most of the selling just as you describe. Our marketing task as writers is simply to help ignite that process. And yes, there’s no question that a poorly written work will never catch fire no matter how much it is pushed.

            Here is a post for you by my editor, Jane Johnson, that mirrors you views:


        • Claudette says:
          December 9, 2013 at 6:12pm

          Terry, I’m sorry to be late in replying to your comment. I’m not sure how I managed to miss it, but here goes.

          You’re right about the quality of some of the books/writing on the Amazon lists. I doubt there’s a writer out there you would/could argue that point. Contrarily, there is excellent work out there, too. I’ve read some of each. As I see it, a reader who’s read a really bad one and thinks it’s good and then gets her/his hands on a really good one will recognize the difference immediately. At that point, a new critic is born. If the reader doesn’t recognize the difference, you as a writer, or me, will never know and it doesn’t affect us at all.

          As for agents, I know a lot of agents. I don’t have one because I don’t want one just now. Many have changed their own job description to include marketing and coaching. They see the need for this shift in their own work due to the shift in the industry’s shifted priorities. When writers took control of their own destinies, agents had to adapt or disappear.

          Too many people think they’re writers, whether they have the ability or not. Money has become the reason for writing, not the reward. And there seem s to be something else going on here. Back in the day, before instant successes in the literary world, writers understood the time it took to get established. In our present world of instant gratification and communication, that understanding has been lost. The emphasis has shifted from quality to quantity. And as with any commercial enterprise, when quantity is the bottom line, quality is reduced.

          As the writer gets behind the wheel of her own destiny, she also makes a conscious decision as to how she’s doing to drive it.

          Don’t give up on your sense of quality, Terry. We need all of that we can get out there. And thank you for bringing up the question of agents.

  • December 4, 2013 at 8:05am

    Number Four. Helloo. That’s me. Turn off self-criticism. Destructive word. I think most writers haggle with that one.

    Interesting post Claudia. Also I couldn’t agree more with learning. A writer should learn something every day.

    Suzanne :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 8:09am

      That’s it. Switch it off! On reflection I wonder if self-doubt might be the biggest issue of all.
      ~ Jonathan

      • Claudette says:
        December 4, 2013 at 9:39am

        Jonathan, I think you’re probably right. Self-confidence isn’t on a school curriculum, as a rule. It’s hard to learn someone that nebulous in today’s society. But we can strive to overcome the deficiency.

    • Claudette says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:19am

      Thanks so much, Suzanne. I don’t have time enough to learn everything that I feel I need to know. It’s addictive, don’t you think? And yes, destruction of self-confidence and self-worth are the costs that are too high to pay.

      We all struggle with the same issues much of the time. Perhaps that’s why we writers tend to stick together like so many goslings swimming after the leader of the pack. It’s not always ambition but safety in numbers that keeps us bunched up.

      Thanks for your comment. Good luck.

  • December 4, 2013 at 8:58am

    Hi Claudette and / or Jonathan,

    Thanks for the ideas and good advice in this post. I have a question loosely related to #3 Deadlines, in that the self-publishing company I have paid to produce softcover versions of a six-part serial have caused me to blow my own deadline of getting Part Two out by Christmas.

    This is due to some overprotective and self-righteous interpretation from the Philippines of US “under-age content” definitions, which I have asked to be referred to someone senior. Despite regular and so far polite badgering from me, they are in no particular hurry to answer my questions and therefore my book is being delayed.

    Any ideas about what redress I might have when a company blows MY deadline?

    Thanks in advance,


    • Claudette says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:26am

      Lorraine, I’m going to allow Jonathan to take the lead on this one in the main, but I can say this. One thing I’ve learned from other writers is that once a manuscript starts into the translation process, the author has less control or impact on its workings. Cultural differences and language shifts in translation can cause some delays or none, according to the countries and languages involved.

      If I never learn anything else from this business, it’s that patience will see you through faster than most other practices.

      I hope this helps. I know that it doesn’t give you a better date of finalization, but sometime it’s good to know that you don’t have to take responsibility for each item on the list to be completed. Good luck. Since you’re dealing with the Phillipines, think about their recent events and cut some slack.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 10:07am

      1. Brave of you to actually pay to have your books published.
      2. The answer to your question lies in what you have in your contract with your printer / publisher. (I don’t know what that is.) But if there’s a default clause where they have to refund you if they are not meeting the terms of the contract, then you may have grounds to bring pressure to bear.
      3. On the upside however I can say that you’re getting it 100% right by writing a series. That is the #1 winning path for an author. It also means that if you are frustrated and delayed by such issues as you’re experiencing, then the later books in the series will drive sales of the earlier ones further down the track. (I call it the ‘Phoenix effect’.)
      Here are two articles that cover the subject for you. They are Amazon-oriented but still entirely relevant.
      Re ‘Series’
      Re ‘The Phoenix effect’
      I hope this brings at least a little relief to your frustrations.

  • December 4, 2013 at 9:06am

    Having a Website could be one of my problems,”I haven’t got one.”
    Another of my problems is finance, publishing companies want to publish my books for a large amount. I’ve tried p.o.d. which worked well. But then the printing company I used had to leave the premises they rented, so now I´m back to the drawing board. I have self published on kindle, but I don’t feel they look professional enough and I haven’t done myself any favours. Have you any advise please.

    I have two new books waiting to be published, and there very good ( or so my editors say)
    and I want to do it right this time, no stumbling around in the dark

    • Claudette says:
      December 4, 2013 at 10:16am

      Sandra, are you intent on self-publishing? I ask that because there are many excellent, small presses that might work for you–depending on your genre, of course. Is your work literary or mass market? If small presses aren’t the avenue you with to walk, there are several other POD options.

      Stop by writer magazine websites, such as that of The Writer Magazine, Poets and Writers Magazine, or Writer’s Digest and look through their databases for POD publishers. Research will be your friend here.

      If you write mass market novels, for instance, there are digital publishers–MuseItUp Press comes to mind–which doesn’t cost the author a limb or other body part. This press has a full editorial staff, which works with the author to ensure that each novel is the best presentation possible, including covers and marketing assistance. Of course, this is only one such press. There are others out there.

      As for the blog or website, an author’s platform is critical in today’s writing world, or so we’re told each day. It really does help. My own author’s website is a totally new one, but I’ve been writing blogs for several years and have another website, a collaborative one, which has been going for two years as well.

      I wish you luck finding the publisher you’re looking for.

  • December 4, 2013 at 9:28am

    Great post, Claudette. Self-doubt is a real killer of writing, as Jonathan reiterates in the comments. I wrote a post about it recently too: http://bernicia-chronicles.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/dont-let-voices-hold-back-your-writing.html

    • Claudette says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:41am

      Good for you, Matthew. It’s hard to find sometimes, but well worth the effort.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll have to read it in the morning when my brain is fresher and eyes aren’t glazing over at the hour. :)

  • Tim says:
    December 4, 2013 at 11:47am

    Hi Claudette (and Jonathan),

    Excellent article–thank you for creating it!

    The goal-setting advice (#2) definitely resonated with me. There are so many careers available to writers, that I feel this may be the most important step.

    Creating a clear picture of where you want to go with your writing is like choosing your destination for the next road trip. Pick your destination city first, and then trace the map back to your current location for your possible routes to get there.

    While there will be some overlap in publishing YA Fiction and freelance Technical Writing, for example, each destination will generate different goals . . . .

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:19pm

      It’s certainly vital to map a path, to focus ferociously and to know why you’re doing this as Claudette indicates. Choose a genre. Write a series within that. STICK WITH IT one book after another. But we must also be aware that we’re not born with a map. It may take some experimentation, and a great deal of copying of other writers works to discover ‘voice’, and what that precise path is. That is the natural order of things for a writer.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 3:20am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Tim. You’re right. That map can take you anywhere, depending on the highway you take. And who says the tech article can’t overlap with YA. Doesn’t that, too, depend on what kind of tech you’re talking about. The construction of a good YA piece, regardless of length, has rules, criteria, and guidelines. Any writer genre must take those into account to succeed in it. That’s part of the tech work for that genre.

      I like the example, too. Thanks.

  • December 4, 2013 at 12:37pm

    For me, it would be #4. I have difficulty turning off my inner critic. Confidence can be a fragile thing, and when it wanes, fear and doubt creep in. In my “day job”, I write for a small weekly newspaper, therefore I have weekly deadlines. This also means I have to self-edit. I’ve gotten in this mode of editing as I go along, which is not a good habit. This will often stifle my creativity and I will lose my train of thought. With a health issue that physically limits by ability to stay focused for an extended period, it’s a bad combination. I have to continually remind myself to shut off the editor and critic and stay on task; they can visit later, after the piece is drafted. A first draft rarely gets submitted without some tweaks, so why not write in one session, edit in another? Easier said. Sometimes this battle is so exhaustive, and of course reality gets in the way — 2 kids in different schools-with varying schedules, older parents who are ill, my own health issues — and my personal writing projects end up looming on the backburner. This then generates guilt, which makes me feel like I’m not going to accomplish my goals, and then it spirals into believing I am unworthy of achieving these goals. Ahhh….the vicious cycle.

    This is precisely what I will be working on in the New Year. My goal is to get back on track in terms of my personal projects. I have found that once I start writing every day, the writing does flow better, and it becomes a habit to write something everyday. Kinda like when you’re starting an exercise regime, no? Hard to get started, but once you get into it, you feel good, you crave the activity. You don’t feel as good when you skip a session. If all else fails, I’m going to conjure a scenario where my characters haunt me in dreams, and beg and plead with me to resurrect them. LOL

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:26pm

      “…my personal writing projects end up looming on the backburner. ”
      We all suffer this. And use of the word ‘looming’ indicates a sense of guilt! But there’s an upside: Realize that this is your great passion for writing that’s showing up, intruding and reminding.
      Seriously, the way to get around the writing / self editing / self critique issue is simply to write and refuse to edit as you go. It’ll take practice, but as they say “practice makes….”
      Here’s a terrific Maeve Binchy video that should help:
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 3:52am

      Ah, Maria, you seem to have identified much of your problem and vowed to make the changes necessary. Now all you have to do is find the triggers for those changes. Every change has a smoking gun.

      A trick that I’ve learned, especially for short pieces on deadline, is to create a quick and dirty flow chart of what I want to put into the piece. Length doesn’t matter at that point. Nothing but desired content matters. Then I write brief paragraphs to give info to satisfy the points on the chart. Those are all facts staring me in the face. Once all the points are covered, it’s a matter of leaving it for a couple of hours or as much time as possible before going back for a quick edit.

      I know it sounds simplistic, and I suppose it is. But it works. It prevents all that self-doubt from having somewhere to land.

      I hope this helps. Getting your life together when so much is moving and flowing in different directions isn’t easy. Sometimes, intent and flexibility is the only way to keep storms from brewing on life’s sea of constant obligations and distractions.

      Shprt spates of meditation helps, too. I learned, not that long ago, that the number of distraction and outside influences have little to do with the impact on my life. That impact comes from the priorities we accept into our lives. You have a hierarchy of priorities that are fixed. Those matter. The others can be worked in as you find determination and patience. At least, that’s how it’s been for me. I had to acknowledge the fixed ones and create accommodations for the rest.

      Good luck on this journey of yours. It can be done. As the Karate Kid’s sensai would say, Bend as the willow.

      • December 5, 2013 at 3:57pm

        Thank you Johnattan for sending me these advice, not that they are easy to apply. I think I do not have the “business man” part in me, and I know for sure that I am a lousy “seller” or “marketer” whatever you want to call it. I was wondering if I could send you my novel “An Egyptian Marriage” by e-mail to read and tell me your professional opinion about it. It is only a 70,000 word book and I know that you are extremely busy, but if you accept I will be thrilled. My self-esteem needs a good boost and all the help they can get.

        Thank you very much, hope to hear from you soon.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          December 6, 2013 at 1:05am

          Omneya. None of us are particularly good ‘business’ people. We simply do our best, and above all, persist. And that is a very kind offer re your book. The trouble is I’m over-saturated with books already! All the very best with your marketing.
          ~ Jonathan.

  • December 4, 2013 at 2:14pm

    Hi Claudette and Jonathan,
    I was thrilled to see this post because I am an over-fifty newby author too and I feel I have a mountain to climb learning the technology part of self-publishing and social media. (I have a lot to learn about everything of course, but it is the technology that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’m always scared I’ll press the wrong button on my Mac and the sky will fall down on top of me.)
    Anyhow I have mastered enough of it to get my novel up on Amazon and I am now trying to take “just the next step” each day to stop myself becoming overwhelmed with it all.
    Like you Claudette, if life hadn’t got in the way I too would have jumped on this adventure much sooner. But I’m here now and although I have the same self-doubt and self-criticism as the other commentators here I am also getting so much fun and enjoyment out of it that it’s worth the scary feelings. (Most of the time anyway!)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:34pm

      Guilty as charged. To make you feel better, I’m referring to me.
      Here’s the story for you: No I’m not a late starter, but have been bedevilled by side tracking for my entire career. I went to film school long ago, and one of the other students was Peter Jackson, ‘Lord Of The Rings’ director. Unlike me however, he stayed obsessively, singularly focused on making movies almost to a state of poverty. But he stuck to it with a mad passion and prevailed. Only recently have I come back to my own projects (iPad apps and 3D characters for children.) They’ll work fine, and better late than never.

      • Claudette says:
        December 5, 2013 at 4:02am

        You give us all hope on that score, Jonathan. It’s always a mistake to comare ourselves with someone else we see as a soaring success. Each of us needs to take the time to write down each day’s personal success story before bed. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a trifle to others. “Today, I refrained from killing the neighbor’s dog for digging up my new rose bush. I even managed to smile at the neighbor as I scolded said dog.” :)

        It’s the little successes we build on to make bigger ones, isn’t it?

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          December 5, 2013 at 4:40am

          Right you are. I was recently in touch with an elderly friend (79) who has just tried to pick up his long time dream of playing jazz piano in bars as a living that would provide more than his social welfare check / cheque. He had rudimentary training as a teenager, and was told by those who would know back then that he had great talent. But he never did anything about it. Only now has he decided at long last to do what he’s always REALLY wanted to do.

          I’m sad to report he’s discovered it’s now beyond him to put in the practice needed to come up to standard. He’s despondent needless to say. In light of this, two expressions come to mind: “There but for the grace of God go I,” and “Carpe Diem!”

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 3:58am

      Ah, Johanna, welcome. Thank you so much for sharing your accomplishments. That’s a big one. Time and perseverance–the sword and shield of the writer or dragon slayer.

      You’ve come a long way already. With that kind of determination, you’ll make it through and learn all you need to learn. Nobody learns this stuff overnight. There’s too much, overall, for anyone to master it all. At least, that’s how I feel most days. But I can move in on small chunks of tech learning, conquer it and then move on to the next. That’s how everyone learns anything. We just have to remind ourselves that that’s the case.

      So glad you stopped by. Keep up your shield and use the sword when you need to. You’re fighting the good fight, it seems.

  • December 4, 2013 at 2:34pm

    A good deal of what Claudette describes should be givens for writers, especially in regard to knowing the language, reading many books of the kind the writer hopes to create, etc.
    For me, the most difficult aspect of being a self-publishing writer has to do with marketing. Again, for me, there is a basic disconnect between being a writer and promoting what I write. But this is the reality, so it won’t do to complain. What I wish existed was a truly reliable marketing version of Consumer’s Reports. No buddies recommending buddies, no I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-mine, just completely objective “reports” on those who help people like me to get the word out about what they write.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:37pm

      Quoting you: “What I wish existed was a truly reliable marketing version of Consumer’s Reports. No buddies recommending buddies…”
      Objective methods for marketing books is the main purpose of this blog.
      More to come Sir.
      ~ Jonathan

      • Claudette says:
        December 5, 2013 at 4:04am

        I wondered if you’d come up with something for that one, Jonathan. You always have lists of great info. Can’t wait to see what you have this time ’round.

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:23am

      Barry, I know what you mean. Here are few that I’ve found over the past few years. We’ll see if Jonathan will recommend them, too.

      Publishing Hound Newsletter–http://publicityhound.com/ This regular newsletter present great articles, publicity tips, and marketing insights.

      Butterfly Networking–http://butterflynetworking.com/ This service provides a newsletter for tips, tricks, and marketing strategies.

      Savvy Authors–http://SavvyAuthors.com also has a weekly newsletter with all sort of information, classes, recommendations, etc.

      Sharing with Writers and Readers–http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/ is a blog for those getting serious about connecting the dots between writers and readers. Lots of great info here.

      These are just the tip of a very large iceberg. You did point out a problem. There’s no directory to pull up and take a gander, one with auto-sort, and refined definition of terms.

      With an ever-shifting industry and hundreds of websites and blogs popping up each month about writing, creating such a directory would almost be a full-time job. But I bet someone does it soon. You’ve opened the gates with your question and your desire.

      I hope my few suggestions help you find some new info you haven’t seen yet.

  • December 4, 2013 at 2:41pm

    Thank you, Claudette. Re Rule #5: Although many self-professed experts provide varying points of view, I’ve found a few sites that I follow because the advice is invaluable.

    This is one of them.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 12:13am

      Thanks. I have a new post in the works – the REAL secret of writing a bestseller. Very simple advice. Posting Monday / Tuesday.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:25am

      I couldn’t agree more. Kathy. I’ve always found wonderful info and perspective here. I felt so privileged when Jonathan posted my article.

      Thanks again, Jonathan.

  • Pam Long says:
    December 4, 2013 at 3:00pm

    I, too, can relate to the “starting after 50″ problem but I have been trying to do as you suggested and learn all I can. Blogs like these and other articles have helped me immensely. Thank you so much for inspiring and encouraging me today, Claudette!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:39pm

      Claudette is a diamond :)
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:34am

      Thanks so much, Pam. I’m glad you found it helpful. Keep walking your journey. When I see others walking a comparable path to my own, it always inspires me.

  • Diane says:
    December 4, 2013 at 3:25pm

    Thanks to Claudette for sharing her writing points. For me, like many writers, self-doubt and self-criticism are my biggest demons. I fight them off by telling myself each day that for now I’m writing this for myself and I just write. Seems to help. I’ve loved writing all my life. Like Claudette, I started late. The 2011 publication of my memoir, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels, inspired me to spread my writing wings. Working on an historical fiction WWII novel. A stretch for me, lots of doubt demons on my shoulder, but I’m forging ahead. Happy Writing

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 12:20am

      You are not alone. Here’s an article about feelings of self-doubt and the fear of being ‘Judged’ that will guide and reassure you.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:39am

      Thanks, Diane. I’m glad to see so many rowing the boat with me. You’re doing great if you’ve already got one book out. No need to self-criticize that. Question: did/are you doing short interviews with people who lived during that time to get a flavor of the period and its daily events? I ask because I have a few friends who do historical pieces and that how they always begin.

      I’m always thrilled to meet other writers, especially those who’re starting during their middle years.

      I look forward to seeing the launch date of this new novel venture of yours. :)

  • December 4, 2013 at 3:27pm

    If I may, I’d like to add another rule that I use: stay focused. With so many social media outlets to keep up with and promotion to do, writing sometimes ends up on the back burner, which isn’t a good thing…if you’re a writer. I find those few hours during the week where I’m unplugged and away from home are the most efficient moments I have. More gets accomplished and I wish I could simply unplug all the time; think of how much work I’d get done!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:41pm

      Here’s a very popular article for you about one aspect of staying focused. Limit the use of social media (What? Heresy!) No. If you don’t, you’ll end up a social media train wreck.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:42am

      Well said, Sandy. Focus is hard to come by some days. Today I had little focus or time for anything having to do with writing. Not because that was my intent, but due to unforeseen events during the night and early morning.

      Keeping one’s mind on a single project at a time can be most difficult in a multi-taksing society like ours.

      By all means, add your rule. It deserves to be in the Top 10. Thanks for sharing it and reminding us of its importance.

  • December 4, 2013 at 4:14pm

    Thanks for the tips, Jonathan and Claudette. We need reminders… and it’s important to remember that, as writers, we’re all in this together.

    Your post prompted me to re-post my five tips at writeinspain.blogspot.com. Yours are kinder, gentler. Mine are more a kick-in-the-pants and now get to work!

    By the way, your blogs are sooo much more sophisticated than my amateurish-looking ones. It gives me author envy. –mm.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 12:23am

      Perfect. A ‘kick in the pants’ is definitely needed by more than just a few of us.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:49am


      I had to laugh. I was being polite in how I phrased my rules. Privately, drill sergeants could be throwing them in my face. :) I know, cause I live with my sister, who was a DI.

      We do need reminders. My poor brain is usually in overdrive when I’m working on organizing my work. I don’t have time for reminders on a normal day. They get in the way of blind panic. :) Just kidding.

      And I love Jonathan’s blog posts, too. I always find something new with each visit. Most gratifying.

  • Jan Moran says:
    December 4, 2013 at 4:19pm

    What a great post! I’m an over-50 author, too, and when I published my first novel, I struggled more with learning social media and online marketing than I did with writing. Whenever I came across something I didn’t know, I jotted it down in a notebook, and then committed to learning one new thing from my list every day after my daily writing session. This helped keep me on my writing track, and in addition, I created a valuable resource.

    Connecting with online writing groups is another good way to learn to navigate the waters and form a support group. However much of a newbie you might be, you always have something to contribute, even if it’s just encouragement and a positive attitude to your fellow writers!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 11:07pm

      “…Connecting with online writing groups.” Ideal way to proceed. This is pretty much what Claudette is referring to. Connection with one’s peers and a shared writing life is highly supportive and rewarding.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:52am

      Exactly, Jan! So glad you came by. Listening in on forums often gives clues to meanings, relationships, and other soft information that creates context for us in the business. I think we sometimes overlook the value of simply sitting back and passively gleaning info from the conversations of others around, others who’ve been through this mill a few times.

      Good point about joining the forums and writer groups to aid in forming a support structure and a place of mentorship.

  • Lana Axe says:
    December 4, 2013 at 4:47pm

    “Seek Out Personal Growth” is my favorite section of this article. It’s all well written, and it gives good advice, but that part is most important, at least to me. I write to enjoy, and I publish to share these stories with the world. I don’t expect everyone to like it, but if I can put out a book that I would love to read, then I’ve accomplished my goal. Sales will either follow, or they won’t. I’m happy just to have the ability to do what I love.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 10:01pm

      “I’m happy just to have the ability to do what I love…” Great! (How many people in the world can say this?)
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 4:56am

      Ah, thank you, Lana. I’m so happy you enjoyed my piece. And I’m with you–personal growth is, in some ways, the only reason to keep doing something. Loving what you do is so important. I love teaching and telling tales that entertain. If I can combine those, I feel vindicated in the effort.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing. That, too, is important.

  • December 4, 2013 at 5:04pm

    Thanks, Claudette and Jonathan
    Hard to single out one item, since all four speak to me. The comments are interesting as well, even the cynical one about buddies recommending buddies, which may well be true at times. I know I can’t bring myself to write a bad review for a fellow writer. May I nevertheless make an observation about pleasing others? Author J M Coetzee, and also Dean Koontz, are firm about not altering their texts to please editors. Us lesser mortals can’t always do that, of course, but one has to believe in oneself. What I did learn from the above (and many other writers as well) is not to be too proud to rewrite my own stuff, over and over, until I think it’s good enough to be printed. Jonathan, thanks for this great writer’s forum.
    Regards, John van den Berg

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:49pm

      Welcome back John – your insights always intriguing. And yes… throwing out work we think is OK can be humiliating, but that’s the deal.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 5:01am

      Thank you, John, for your comment. I like to think that everyone in this business has a unique perspective which holds at least a tiny grain of truthful insight. Sharing those insights helps everyone grow a bit.

      I think we do need to learn how to chose those gems hidden beneath the chaff and toss those at the feet of the reader. Jonathan is a terrific example of one who can teach how to find those gems and how to decide what is chaff. I know that I’ll be reading his work more closely than ever each day. But then, I’m the perpetual student, always determined to learn everything I can and use it as well as may be.

      You’ve given me a few things to think on, too. Thank you.

  • December 4, 2013 at 5:20pm

    Thanks, Jonathan, for always having such useful and good to read blog posts–like Claudette’s. For me, STUDY is the tip that means the most to me right now and I’m glad Claudette reinforced its importance. That’s why I subscribe to Jonathan’s blog and why I was reading Claudette’s post in the first place–to learn! I am in the midst of many steep learning curves and I often feel overwhelmed and behind. But I know I need to keep learning and keep trying to move forward. Here we go! Your help is greatly appreciated! Thank you.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 11:03pm

      It’s a plain fact – attention to study is hard enough, and application of that ‘know how’ gained is equally tricky. But like all things, once practiced it will grow increasingly easier. You’re onto it.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 5:11am

      Lyrysa–such a lovely name. I’m with on studying. It’s one of my demons, I’m afraid. I’ve been told that I should have been a researcher because I could find such interest in the most insignificant material. Spooky, huh?

      Gaining knowledge for its use or application is always worthwhile. I’ll never apologize for being a continual student. Application of learning can sometimes cause hair-pulling episodes, but sooner or later one gets through it. My hair is getting thinner by the day. I’m with you regarding social media. It seems like the Pacific Ocean some days–bottomless, ever-changing, and bring tsunamis to my door on a regular basis.

      Things to get easier. That’s a blessing. I’m glad to have other students to share tid-bits with.

  • December 4, 2013 at 5:31pm

    Love the links at the bottom, good luck with your projects, and thanks for posting, Jonathan.
    Years back I sent a manuscript to an agent who was kind enough to write back and tell me she liked my work and it made her laugh, however, I would benefit from doing a self-editing course, and she suggested Cornerstones. I went. I loved it. I learned soooooo much. It was packed with nuggets. Really opened my eyes to what was possible, some grammar things I hadn’t been aware of and filled me with excitement at the possibilities.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:44pm

      Sounds like you’re following Claudette’s point about STUDY. And I love your shining optimism. “Smile upon the world” must be paying off for you.
      ~ Jonathan

  • December 4, 2013 at 6:39pm

    This was a great article. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate reading posts like this as they help me to continue on my journey.

    I’m in the throes of a new novel now and needed the encouragement!


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2013 at 9:47pm

      Plough on, plough on! We have to be obsessive about this to succeed. I keep these words of a certain well known Sci-Fi writer above my desk: ‘You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.’ — Ray Bradbury
      ~ Jonathan

  • Claudette says:
    December 4, 2013 at 10:45pm

    I’ll be back here as soon as I can, peeps. Unforeseen delays are creating chaos for me at present. That patience I spoke of earlier is definitely my right-hand instrument today. As soon as I can, I’ll be back here answering comments and dishing on myself.

    Have a great rest of the day.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 12:08am

      Looks like your post has struck a chord with readers. Thanks for the high value contribution.
      ~ Jonathan

      • Claudette says:
        December 5, 2013 at 5:14am

        Thank you, Jonathan. I’ve been having a great time, communing with your readers. Such smart cookies need good coffee for dunking, don’t they?

        Chords are good things. They help enrich the melody of a tune. I’m so glad you allowed me to come and play on your playground today.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          December 5, 2013 at 5:26am

          You’re welcome. The world might attempt to tell us otherwise, but writers know that playtime is the real time :)
          ~ Jonathan

  • December 5, 2013 at 2:31am

    Hello Claudette and Jonathan!

    I really liked this article. It really reiterated to me what I’ve been told my entire life and made me think about it in a way that I had never thought about it before; how I can use those life lessons in my writing.

    My mother and grandmother tell me all the time that I need to keep learning and don’t take other’s comments to heart, which is why I think tips 4 and 5 stood out the most to me.

    As an aspiring author, one who is only in high school, at that, criticism and is really hard for me to take. I accept it graciously of course on the outside, but inside it eats me up. When I give someone a few chapters to read from a new story, I’m waiting by the phone, wondering if they’re going to call me and tell me they loved it or that, unfortunately, it needs work. A lot of it. I feel like that, and comparing myself to others who have succeeded in this career before me is one of my biggest issues as an author. It helps to have so many supporting people around me, but there are days when getting a single word out is hard for fear it is wrong.

    The other part, about learning, really struck with me because I’m always trying to learn new things, even if I don’t think I’ll ever need to know them again. Did you know that the Titanic was 882.5 feet long? Or that the Medici family was quite possibly at one point the richest family in all of Renaissance Europe? It’s little pieces of information such as these that I suck in like a sponge in case I need to use them at a later date. Want to know what the square root of pie is? 1.77245 etc. I try my hardest to suck up every piece of information I can and I’ve found that ultimately it has made me a better writer.

    Once again, I loved the article and I hope that you have more on here Claudette!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 2:44am

      Your curiosity reveals a sparkling imagination and inquiring mind, magical attributes for any creative writer. Regarding your fear of ‘getting it wrong’, this is something every author suffers but steady practice helps it to gradually disappear. I believe the imagination is the greatest gift we have, so don’t let it slip through your fingers. Do watch the 3 minute Ray Bradbury video in this post, it will bring you encouragement: http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-sell-8-million-books
      ~ Jonathan
      PS. From Vancouver Daily Province edition on April 15, 1912 http://pic.twitter.com/vGNVI3DWXm

      • December 6, 2013 at 1:07am

        Thank you Jonathan!

        Some days are I’m definitely harder on myself than others, but I think that’s just a part of self-criticism. After seeing you and Claudette’s post I have definitely been more inspired to get out there and write!

        I agree with your comment on imagination. It’s definitely a gift, and there isn’t just one type, either. I have a different type of imagination than Leonardo Da Vinci did. I’m sure I even have a different imagination than you, a fellow writer. It is a gift, a lovely one, and I am glad I have it every day.

        By the way, I enjoyed that link. It just goes to show how many people thought that the Titanic was such an invincible, unsinkable ship and how, ultimately, the world was proved wrong when over 1,500 people perished in the sea.

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 5:27am

      April, it makes me feel good that you enjoyed my post so much.

      One thing it took me years to understand and believe was this. Each person carries within them a unique voice from an equally unique perspective. All of your life is distilled into how you think and relate to the world around you. That’s heady stuff for anyone to contemplate.

      I have a young poet friend, Erin, whose voice in verse makes me weep because it’s so beautiful and pure and true. Erin is only 15/16 yrs old and already wiser than many adults I know. She had a problem believing in her abilities to create verse. All she needed was a place to feel safe and where she would get encouragement and support. She’s now to the point of being a prize-winning poet. I sit in awe of her talent each day and always count myself blessed for knowing.

      If you believe that your voice has something say, don’t worry about others. Concern yourself only with saying what your heart tells you is right for you. That’s all any of us can do, really. “To Thine own self be true.” Shakespeare read the classics, too. Weave your thoughts, dreams, and bits of intriguing info into whatever stories fit your vision and let the reader decide which truth to take away with them.

      Sorry for the rambling advice. You seem to have struck a chord with me. Good fortune on your path, April. Stay with it. It will take you wherever you want.

      • December 6, 2013 at 12:51am


        I didn’t find you to be rambling at all! I enjoyed your reply every bit as much as your post. It really made my day!

        I feel like myself and your friend Erin are similar. Maybe not in the sense that of our writing abilities but with the fact that I too, have been called wise beyond my years and even an ‘old soul’ more times than I can count. I think it’s amazing that she’s on her way to become a prize-winning poet. I can only hope that one day I can become an author of such high honor.

        In the novel I’m writing right now, titled Until We Meet Again, the protagonist, a older teenage girl named Mayson, is perhaps the voice I have been trying to get out since I began writing. She has a bit of me in her but she’s also my own creation. I am currently writing my 6th chapter of UWMA, and it is quickly becoming the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. I think I’ve finally found that voice, and I hope that from this point forward all the others chattering in the back of my brain come in just as strong as Mayson’s does.

        Thank you for all your insight. I truly appreciate it.

  • December 5, 2013 at 4:21am

    I am another over 50 writer. I wrote in college, but that was pre-internet. I was too self-conscious to submit anything. Then I listened to the advice to “get a real job.” I gave up writing and worked in customer service. I made up so many excuses in my mind on why I couldn’t write. 1) No time while working a F/T job; 2) No computer, and the list went on. Then with an early retirement, I found that I had the time and the computer, so no more excuses! I started reading up on this new digital world, I started following blogs. Under advice, I started a blog, Facebook and Twitter, then LinkedIn. The advice I have gotten from fellow writers is amazing. I joined a group that promotes one another through social media. My problem is one of time. I have the blog, which is a review blog for debut authors, reading for research for my WIP, reading up on the craft–and I take notes like a student, so it takes a lot of time, but it helps me to remember better if I write it out in longhand; Plus, I do try to read a book from an A-list author to learn what makes their books sell. I spend way too much time on social media. Do you have any ideas on how to make a schedule and stick to it? Thanks for the great article and the responses.

    • Claudette says:
      December 5, 2013 at 5:40am

      Rebecca, you’ve hit on one of my own failings. Not so much lengthy sessions on social media, but lengthy sessions getting immersed in fascinating details about stuff not needed at the moment.

      Your experience in life seems to have paralleled my own in many ways. But there is a way to take control of a writing life today.

      I learned to create an editorial calendar to help contain my work hours and production. BEWARE: Life tends to shift hours a lot on these calendars, especially if you create ones meant for use throughout the day. (My experience talking here.( My real writing time is squeezed into a few afternoon hours. I choose at least three projects to work on each week and delegate chunks of time to work on each one. Half an hour to an hour will do, depending on the project and its needs of the moment. I always have multiple projects going at the same time. Whatever goes on at other times of the day are irrelevant to those few afternoon hours.

      I redo my calendar whenever I’ve completed a project and sent it on its way. Another will then take its place.

      An Editorial Calendar can brings chaos into check. You can note contest deadlines, submission deadlines for everything, scheduled webinars, study time, or whatever you wish to place in a day of the week. Practice makes this process easier, and results are usually good if you stick to your self-imposed schedule.

      You mentioned writing things in longhand. That’s an excellent way to retain information and to implant into memory. And many of the best writers today continue to do their rough drafts in longhand. One novelist–wish I could remember which one right now–said recently that the practice allows him to write more thoughtfully and deliberately, which necessitated less revision later on.

      I say good luck in your journey. You sound like a writer I’d really like to know better.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 11:27pm

      Regarding spending too much time on social media: I wrote a blog post recently on this very subject. It should help set a more likely path for you. It’s entitled ‘The Social Media ‘Train Wreck’ That All Authors Must Avoid.’
      ~ Jonathan

  • Claudette says:
    December 5, 2013 at 5:49am

    What I said about Rebecca goes for everyone who has commented here today. I would really like to know each of them and their work better. This has been such a wonderful experience.

    Thank you, Jonathan, again, for having me. I never cease to marvel at the talent and broad spectrum of writers out there beyond the footlights. I’ll be looking for you all.

    Everyone, give yourselves a round of applause for having the courage to face the path you’ve carved out for yourselves. You deserve it.

    Any time you’d like to catch up with what I’m doing, you can find me at a few spots on a regular basis.

    Twitter @Claudsy1 http://Twitter.com/Claudsy1
    Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/claudette.young.16
    Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/106973816132524083338/posts
    and LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=96543791&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

  • Margaret Taylor says:
    December 5, 2013 at 7:24am

    Thank you Jonathon and Claudette for sharing with all of us. Thank you too for the resources. I will put them to good use!

    I’m so guilty of #4 and have no clue how to turn it off…*laughs*


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 11:23pm

      Re self criticism, doubt and fear of being judged. You are not alone. Here’s another blog post of mine that should help a great deal: http://bestsellerlabs.com/how-to-beat-writers-block-forever/
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 7, 2013 at 7:15pm

      You’re welcome, Margaret. I so understand #4. I’m with you on the struggle to stay one line ahead of the red pen. Good luck and keep chipping away at it.

  • December 5, 2013 at 7:10pm

    Good advice! I enjoyed reading.
    I try not to think too much about the fact that I switched careers at 40-something years. Your story inspires me!
    –Linda :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 11:06pm

      I imagine that Claudette has jumped back into the writing trenches today, so you’ll have to put up with me. (Think of it as a consolation prize.)
      In my view starting again at 40 something is not only a tremendously admirable thing to do, but exciting and energizing. I did it at the same age – which was a while ago. :)
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 7, 2013 at 7:17pm

      Bless you, Linda. I’ve seen enough of your work over the past few years to know that you’re no slouch and probably light years ahead of me in so many ways. Glad you could come by and that you enjoyed what I had to say. See you in all our favorite places.

  • December 5, 2013 at 8:03pm

    Excellent advice. In addition to understanding terms related to the publishing industry, it’s important to keep up with terms related to social media. Not an easy chore!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 5, 2013 at 11:19pm

      Sometimes I’m convinced that traditional publishing house denizens use obscure terms in order to maintain a form of exclusivity. i.e. You must know the mystical signs and rites to belong to the priesthood. “Foreign rights, cast-offs, galleys, ARCs, proofs, PBB, ISBNs, F&Gs, advances, and CMYK.”
      Most of it could be put more simply. But … sigh… we need to know at least some of the terms to humor a publisher when communicating. Maybe we’ll even sound like we are capable of helping out with promotion. Now that would certainly have appeal.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 7, 2013 at 7:20pm

      Ah, Michelle, you came. So good to see you. You’re right on that one about social media. If I ever come to a point at thinking I’ve conquered it, I’ll know that it’s time to retire. It all changes too fast to keep up. So long as I’m not at least a county behind on the media road, I’ll consider myself still in the race. :)

      You’ve got so much of it covered already. I’m glad you enjoyed my article here. Talk to you soon.

  • December 6, 2013 at 7:25am

    These are good rules, most of which I have been following since 2012 when the first book in my series was published. While this is true, there is one rule that I only recently began following.

    Taking risks was never something I was good at when it came to writing and marketing my writing. Then this past year I have been doing things I never would have considered before. I began making connections and friends with other authors, began going to vendor events to sell books, and have begun writing without holding back anything. Previously I used to write my stories without getting fully involved with my characters.

    Even though 97% of all children and adults who have read my first books have come back with very positive feedback saying they loved the book they read, it was because of the others that I began writing differently. A few readers came back with more negative feedback. Some said they thought the book was good but boring, yet another said my characters weren’t fully developed. Although these people remain in the minority, I did take a look back at my first book, which is the only one to have gotten any negative feedback so far, and I did notice that while most of the stories in the book were told in first person and I told the main story from the viewpoints of multiple characters to give different views on my main character, I failed to say anything about what she was thinking or feeling. This might not have been what the overall story was about, but I now feel my main character gives off the wrong impression of who she is in the first few stories.

    Things do change, but without knowing this fact or having gotten to know who she really is, some people have stopped reading my book. They come back saying they couldn’t finish it because my character, to them, seems like a brat. They don’t realize anymore than her teachers, the other characters in the book, do that she had a good intention behind everything she did back then, and that if they had bothered to read on they would have seen drastic changes begin in her. It is for this reason that I now make sure my characters are and are seen by others the way I want them to be by getting as involved as I can with them no matter how hard some things can be to write about.

    I know, like most writers, confidence can be a problem for me, particularly after negative reviews, but I have discovered that the same negative reviews have a positive side. Some show me problems in my writing, and others, usually ones from people who aren’t really into the kind of books I write and who are giving me negative feedback before reading my book, have often caused some of my best writing to happen. For example, after the first time I got negative feedback from the one who said my book was good but boring due to lack of action, the next day I was writing part of a story about the sidekick of a superhero and I wrote my first fight scene.

    Another time, I don’t even remember what it was about, but a whole new book began that day, and would actually become the sixth book in what was originally a five book series. In this book I managed to create the most action packed book I have ever written complete with the worst villain I had ever created. I guess I was a bit annoyed with people at the time and as a result, this character who is both a hero and a villain at the same time, became much more villainous when she almost killed several people. I actually recently had to tone the scene down because my main target audience is ages 8-12, and while adults do tend to love my stories, especially teachers, I definitely want to continue to make all my books accessible and enjoyable to both kids and adults.

    One writing problem I have, that isn’t mentioned in this post, is patience. I have a hard time being patient for books to sell and to get reviews. In only a year of promoting I have sold nearly 200 copies of my first book. This number does not include giveaways or book donations that I have done. While I know this is good progress it often doesn’t feel this way because only around 5% of people seem to give me feedback, and this is only upon my running into them at events. Currently about 2% have returned for more books without giving any kind of feedback. Online I have sold only around twelve print copies of my book and only two of the ebook version, both of which were to family and friends.

    Out of all the books I have sold I only have somewhere around five reviews for my book and when offering free copies for reviews I have only ever had two people interested and out of the two only one ever followed through with their review. I know reviews come in time but I guess with so many print books out there I expected some reviews to follow and after hearing many authors say they rarely sell print books and others say theirs isn’t in print because it isn’t worth it, I do tend to wonder why I haven’t sold any ebooks yet. I suppose it’s for the same reason I only really get sales when I go to vendor events and aren’t really seeing online sales of the print book aside from family, a few teachers, and a library. As I said before, I know sales are a matter of patience and making as many sales as I have is good progress no matter how the sales happened, but patience has always been something I lack.

    Currently I advertise on reputable book sites geared for my age group, try to keep up with all my social media pages and blog and vary my posts, connect with other authors as much as possible, take part in fun writing competitions for times when I want to write but don’t have enough ideas flowing, go to vendor events at least once a week, had an article written about my unusual writing journey in the local newspaper, do author interviews whenever I can find one, occasionally guest post on blogs, feature excerpts from my books wherever I can, donate books to willing libraries as I find them, read, watch TV and movies, and play video games to help my mind wander to motivate my writing, review books for authors on occasion and sometimes interview ones I like on my own blog, and more to keep myself focused on the writing and marketing that could potentially lead to future sales rather than focus on the actual numbers and method of sales. Then by doing this I can just have fun with my many books in progress, which overall is the reason I started writing-to have fun. Although my goal as an author is to actually make a living from it since it is my favorite thing to do and my job options are a bit limited due to multiple reasons, though I have been trying to get a part time job at a nearby library to have a job that pays. I suppose my second biggest problem as a writer is that it really doesn’t pay.

    I have an editor and book manager, which my mom pays because I haven’t yet found a paying job, except on occasion I help her out at her job for money. I actually think it might be the fact that I have no money coming in that makes me more impatient for my books to sell.

    Anyway, do any other authors here have that problem with patience when it comes to selling books?

    • Claudette says:
      December 7, 2013 at 7:41pm

      Jennifer, patience is something cultivated over time, I’ve found. There’s something else, too. Patience also rises as self-criticism and doubt ebb away. Every new writer, I think, has an unconscious desire, at the very least, to be an instant success. And success is defined by each writer/artist. My idea of success is totally different from yours.

      Do I want lots of book sales? Sure thing. I do understand, when I ask myself what I really want above book sales, I see that my deepest desire is to be respected in the field. Sales are nice, but if I can’t respect the path I take to get there, it’s not worth it. If I can’t have the respect of others in the field, it’s not worth it for me. That’s more important than sales for me. I figure if I have that, sales will follow in time.

      Having said that, I also have more desire to write each day. I figure the dam will break soon and I’ll soon have more sales than I know how to handle. All of that, in combination, allows me the patience now that I didn’t have five years ago.

      You said that you want more reviews. There are dozens of websites around belonging to writers who do only reviews of books (guaranteed to be objective) and more that do frequent reviews. Google book review websites. You’ll have pages worth of them to choose from. Some specialize in children’s books. You don’t even have to send them a print copy. You can use a PDF ARC copy for that purpose. And if you don’t know about those yet, you can Google ARC copy and get all the info on it. (What would we do without Google?)

      Persevere, Jennifer. You’re doing everything you “should” be working on, as far as I’m concerned. Take pride in the fact that you’re using the negative to find the opportunities. From what you’ve said here, you’ve learned a valuable lesson that many haven’t as yet. Good for you. Keep plugging away. All dams have cracks. It’s your job now to keep putting pressure on yours to force it to let go and flood the world with your work.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        December 8, 2013 at 9:04am

        ” Sales are nice, but if I can’t respect the path I take to get there, it’s not worth it. If I can’t have the respect of others in the field, it’s not worth it for me. That’s more important than sales for me. I figure if I have that, sales will follow in time.”
        Outstanding… and humbling Claudette.
        ~ Jonathan

        • Claudette says:
          December 9, 2013 at 5:56pm

          Thanks, but for me that is the simple truth. I’m fortunate in that I have the luxury of not having to depend on making a vast living from my writing. Not that I wouldn’t mind doing that, of course, but at present it isn’t mandatory.

          I know what hard work it is to write, to get it right, and to be expected to produce at that level all the time. It can be daunting. Yet, I was trained to always seek the best in whatever I did. It’s how I’m wired. Perhaps that’s where my inner editor comes in as a strong ally/nemesis. That’s a daily battle, fought in the throes of punctuation and alliteration, not to mention that twosome, semantics and syntax. :)

          If what I write helps another or gives a bit of insight, I’m satisfied with my day. If what I write entertains, I celebrate.

  • Jody says:
    December 6, 2013 at 12:59pm

    It’s the technology thing. It’s out to destroy me.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 7, 2013 at 2:48am

      Jody. It’s mere technology. Creativity will draw ahead every time.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Claudette says:
      December 7, 2013 at 7:13pm

      I know the feeling, Jody. For me, it’s baby steps time. If I clear the tech fog on one aspect each week, I figure I’ll have a good base of knowledge by the end of a few months. That way there is success and movement forward, even as I strive to get the writing done.

      Good luck in the tech wars. Stand tall and shot straight. :)

  • December 6, 2013 at 8:51pm

    Hi Claudette, definite thumbs up and I recommended it to my google + followers. What I’d like to ask is may I include this wonderful article in my welcome packets to my clients at Your Writing Coach. This is information they definitely need and meets my needs in explaining to them what they need to know and how they can obtain that info they don’t by spending time with me, as their coach. You did such a marvelous job on the article. I don’t know how anyone could make it better.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 7, 2013 at 2:44am

      Hi Vicki
      We don’t as a rule give permission for others to use our articles and guest articles for business purposes. But you may reproduce a brief snippet with a link back to where it’s published at Bestsellerlabs.com if that’s useful.
      ~ Jonathan Gunson. CEO. Bestseller Labs
      PS. See the © Copyright Bestseller Labs notice at the foot of the article.

      • December 7, 2013 at 2:02pm

        Jonathan, that’s helpful, thanks. I appreciate even a snippet that I can use and forward my clients on to learning more
        Have a blessed day,

      • Claudette says:
        December 7, 2013 at 7:11pm

        Thank you for fielding this request, Jonathan. I appreciate it.

    • Claudette says:
      December 7, 2013 at 7:10pm


      Thanks so much for your interest in my article. Jonathan is right bout using an except and linking back. You compliment me with this request. I’ll have more bits and pieces out in future, so keep a watch out. :)

  • Claudette says:
    December 7, 2013 at 7:43pm

    I want to thank all of those who’ve commented on my article. Jonathan’s done such a brilliant job of fielding many of these comments, especially when I’ve been unavailable to do so. I’ve enjoyed each of them and been humbled by the confidence so many have shown in me.

  • December 9, 2013 at 11:21am

    Seeing Claudette’s name meant that I was going to be treated to an intelligent discourse on writing that far surpasses the fluff I see every day. Well done. I expect nothing less than a thoughtful, meaningful analysis of all issues and possible solutions to the problems.

    Though I agreed fully with the thoughts expressed by Claudette, I have but one thing to add which might be useful to other writers. “Be brave to stand on your own.” Most likely, I’ll flesh that out on my own blog, but suffice it to say that it is within the realm of each writer to have personal goals and expectations in writing and publishing.

    While we have goals that originate in our heart, we are fully in charge of our destinies. Many, many fellow writers are kind and supportive, but only we, as individuals, know and understand that which we seek to accomplish. Forget about the hand-holding and critique groups. We must be willing and able to carry our dreams forward to the next level, despite any naysayers who wish to pigeonhole us in certain genres or tell us what we dream is not a possibility. It is if we are brave to stand on our own.

    • Claudette says:
      December 9, 2013 at 5:46pm

      Amanda, thank you for your kind words. They are truly appreciated, as are any of praise toward my work. I’m glad you liked what I offer here.

      I definitely agree with you about standing on one’s own to arrive at whatever goal we create for ourselves. The one thing I’d place a caveat to is critique groups. I have a fantastic group, which I’d be hard-pressed to do without. Not because they hand-hold but because they force me to work harder, smarter, better.

      They find all of those picky little things that I overlook, in my familiarity with a story line or character. Each of the five other members has a unique perspective and a willingness to share it. They give me insights into the minds of readers, some of whom don’t normally read the genre I’m presenting with my story. And that can be invaluable to me.

      I’m not saying that everyone can work with such a group, or that everyone must do so. The critique group is merely another tool to finding ones voice and incentive. When I’m on deadline, I don’t have the luxury of a group read and can testify to the feeling of slight panic without that safety net. You’re right about being able to trust your own instincts and go with your gut. That is a facet that needs developing in every writer. Let’s face it. Without that ‘Stand out of my way’ attitude, none of us would ever publish. :)

      I’m so glad you stopped by to give me your thoughts. I always enjoy what you have to say. I learn from you, too, you know.

  • Tiffany says:
    December 9, 2013 at 9:23pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I’m definitely new to the industry, so it’s nice to know that I’m doing some things I should be doing already. I think the thing I excel at the most is learning. Whether I’m researching to make sure details are correct or digging through all the blogs, articles, and anything else I can get my hands on, literally or metaphorically, I am always trying to learn more. Sometimes I just spend time trying to learn more about my characters.

    Like most others, self criticism and doubt are my biggest problems. In taking risks, I worry that my risk is too big; my entire first novel is one huge risk. I’m combining psychological thriller with gay literature and have several scenes that borders on erotic ( if not for its violent nature). I’ve considered taming those down, but I feel they are important. They give the readers a lot of information about the main character since the focus isn’t on the acts themselves but the MC’s behavior during them. I fear my target audience will be so narrow that I’ll have trouble find a publisher for it.

    The thing is, though, I love my story! I love these characters! I know (or at least believe) people will not only read but connect with my story. However, my doubts rear up here too. I am making the transition from fanfiction writing to commercial fiction; just because I have a solid fanbase with my fanfiction doesn’t mean I will continue that “success” beyond it. (Luckily my fanfiction fans are following me through my transition into this new career.)

    • Claudette says:
      December 10, 2013 at 8:22pm

      Tiffany, that’s terrific news about your novel and how you feel about it. So many writers get to the middle of a novel draft and get bored with it, or want to change the best parts (to them) because those pieces might be better served (someone else’s terms) if they were treated differently. Stick to your guns. You’re creating a cross-over novel. There are bound to be tensions, uncertainties, etc. Pioneers tend to walk alone until the crowd sees where they’re going. Then the land-rush begins.

      I often wonder if Steven King compromised his stories to death before he said, “To heck with it. I’ll write them my way and they’ll get published or not. But they’ll be mine.” His attitude started a landslide of a genre, not because the genre hadn’t been there before, but because he took risks, wrote well, and believed in himself.

      That’s how I’ve come to look at risk-taking in writing. The only real risk involved is believing in what you write, taking the time to do it well, and sending it out for others to judge. If you believe yourself and your work, what others believe doesn’t matter. Amazon has made sure of that, as have the small presses that want new writers with new thoughts, and new perspectives.

      Go for it, girl. Do what you believe to be right for you. You don’t have to follow the crowd to get to the finish line. Your first question might be, whose finish line am I aiming towards. Good luck. Let me know what happens with your book. I’d be interested to know.

  • December 10, 2013 at 5:22pm

    Shear’s notebook rule: No fat notebooks. Stay lean. That means knowing that notebooks are like umbrellas: you’re going to lose it. Solution? Shear’s rule. In my case, Shear’s rule means using the 64-page 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 moleskin. Fits the shirt pocket. But if you’ve got a pocket book, check out the 8 1/4 x 5 version. Remember, Moleskin is on he uptick for now. There are lots of great and less expensive notebooks out there. So use your good taste. Don’t buy Moleskin because it’s trendy. Buy whatever fits your needs. But most of all — fear loss. You will lose your notebook, if you’re a real writer who carries one around all the time. Cut your losses by finding a thin notebook that you can date, set aside, and build into a little chronological library of your bon mots, and always have something fresh at hand. That way, you can only tearfully lose a month or two of notes, not months and months of work and developed ideas.

    • Claudette says:
      December 10, 2013 at 8:29pm

      Great tips, Jeff. I carry two different bags usually and have one notebook in each, so that I can switch off.

      Something I try to do after each foray into the wilds of the outside world is to add my fresh notes from my outing to receiving file on my hard drive. Lines of poetry or poem starts go into a poem development file. Character study thoughts end up in a specific file for that character’s story. And so on. That way, I never lose them, can remember that I have them, and re-enforces the ideas while I take the few minutes to transcribe them.

      Thanks so much for sharing your info and your enthusiasm.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 10, 2013 at 9:21pm

      Jeff / Claudette
      I use a small, cheap lined ringbound notepads to keep notes for my projects. The idea of slim moleskins instead that can be stored as a endless scrapbook ‘library’ has a great deal of appeal. In my case it would also bring a certain level of respect for my own work if that makes sense. Plus the notion of an entirely separate file for character dev? I had not thought of doing that – at the moment they’re jumbled up with my story notes and scene ideas.

  • December 13, 2013 at 11:13pm

    Hello everyone.

    I have enjoyed reading all of these posts. For me, the comment to “switch off the ego frees creativity” freed me to write this post. I am constantly telling my students it’s the process not the end result that creates success. I should record and listen to my own lectures.

    I have had interest from publishers, got those personal notes, but think I will choose to self-publish. A top editor for Random House told me they go to places like Amazon to seek out today’s writers. And many they approach, decide to stay as self-published.. More can be earned on the self-publishing side. More control is on the self-publishing side. And marketing? Unless the publishers absolutely knows it’s going to be a bestseller, the marketing in the end is still up to the writer. Few funds are expended for publicity.

    Publishers once looked, and still do, for great literature; but, publishing has become a business needing guaranteed profits. They don’t risk as much as they used to risk.

    Whatever you decide, whether you find an agent, sign contract with a publisher or self-publishing, I for one am happy that you are writing.

  • Claudette says:
    December 19, 2013 at 6:35pm

    D.J., thank you so much for your comment. Yes, the publishing gravy train of marketing by the Big Five seems to have gone out with the time to float around in the Sargasso Sea. If every decent writer is lucky, they’ll catch up with trends and not go the way of many brick and mortars.

    As to reviewing your own lessons, I know that feeling so well. I go back to read old blog posts or articles. There are times when I look at the words I’ve strung together and thought, “I really wrote that? That’s good!” I shock myself and then feel guilty for not having a stronger belief in myself. That belief is one of my sharpest goals, one that is tagged on my wall for easy reference when doubt creeps in.

    Thanks again for dropping by. I look forward to seeing if you put out that book of yours. I believe we each have something to teach that others need, something which we may not even recognize when we’re putting together the lesson.

    Sail those publishing seas well.

  • Kathleen Pasquale says:
    December 24, 2013 at 1:57pm

    #4 is my biggest hurdle. I have dreamed all my life of being a writer but only pursued it personally not professionally. With every year that passed a piece of that dream broke off and floated away but recently I feel revitalized. At 48 I am still dealing with the self-doubt that I am too old to embark on a new career but I have made a commitment to myself to start the work and just write the book.

    Just finding this site yesterday I am basking in all information. Thank you for sharing and making this journey less frightening.

    • Claudette says:
      December 25, 2013 at 8:04am

      Kathleen, it’s so good to hear from you. Forty-eight? You’re still a youngster. You’ve got plenty of time to write, publish, grow, and explore the world. Don’t ever allow the “time” card to be pulled on you. No one has anything to work with but the moment they’re experiencing as they speak, breath, live. Nothing but the moment exists.

      I’m glad that you’ve taken charge of your dream and your future use of it. Hang in there. Jonathan always has such marvelous tidbits to sprinkle at our feet. He’s a regular Hansel, in that regard. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 29, 2013 at 3:16am

      Agree with Claudette entirely. 48 isn’t even old LOL! You’ll look back 20 years from now and say “Thank God I went ahead.” And guess what? I’m older than you, and I’m just about to rip into a brand new project.
      On we go.
      ~ Jonathan

  • leo effi says:
    December 30, 2013 at 1:11pm

    hi jonathan i have a question next year i am planning on starting my blog and i wanted to make it something similar to yours about writing and stories but i am scared that i wont b taken seriously bcos i have not been published.
    i can write about writing bcos its something i know (at least to some level) do u think i should do it and another problem i have is knowing how to target my future audience (young adults). i have no clue on dis tanxs

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      January 5, 2014 at 2:47am

      You ‘write’ so are perfectly qualified to write about your experiences so far. Share what you’ve discovered. All the best for 2014.
      ~ Jonathan

  • jackie chimutashu says:
    December 31, 2013 at 5:48am

    thank you so much for the advice.it was put across in such a simple and friendly manner and thats great for us newbies. I greatly appreciate your advice on taking risks and how to handle criticism. many new authors can’t venture out and express their own new found voices coz they believe they wont be taken seriously or they will simply make fools of themselves. but I think its great to come out with a whole new concept even if you risk negative criticism. I have also found out that harsh,good or bad,criticism always pays.thanks for helping us learn to take it boldly.

  • January 4, 2014 at 6:37pm

    Thanks for the great article.
    I have finished a YA manuscript.
    The past four years have been an education. I have done research, read how-to-write publications, read other YA novels and have belonged to two writers groups. Writing my story took twelve years with lots of interruptions from work, moving, building houses and being a mom—life.
    As a former teacher, I found concerns and personal events that my students experienced were similar to those of my childhood. So, a story percolated in my head for two years. Then I started writing whenever I could find time. There were some long pauses as I pondered where do I go from scene to scene. I felt my characters needed me to help them along their journey of growing up and dealing with loss. I finally finished the story three years ago and had it reviewed by two writing groups. I am encouraged as I keep re-working my story and hope to make it interesting and believable.
    I have begun a second manuscript with the same characters who are now older.
    My goal is to publish—that is the scary part.
    Thanks again.

  • February 16, 2014 at 4:30am

    Hi Jonathan!
    This post is really great, full of practical advice. I particularly liked the expression that authors may be ridiculed and all that, but still “They live their purpose, whatever that may be.” It is sort of morale boosting. That is may be why I feel a strong desire to publish some things more because I do wish overwhelmingly to convey somethings before I die!
    Thanks a lot for making this post available’

  • Benjie says:
    September 27, 2014 at 1:02pm

    Great post. It’s full of practical advice that I can apply as a writer. Handling criticisms is often not easy, especially for new writers. This post, however, can help newbies and even pros to conquer the issues outlined here. Thanks very much!