The difference between amateur and professional writers

Art is a discipline. It is a skill. It is a craft. It is something which you must work at regularly, and struggle through the challenges by overcoming one word at a time. Professional writers know this. Amateurs, however, will often say they “write when the muse visits” them.

pexels-photo-89860

You see, the writers we most admire: journalists — who pen words beautifully — are required to write weekly, on a daily basis. When the muse visits, they write. And when the muse has veered to a foreign, hidden place they write.

We see authors publish books yearly. Screenwriters who create new plays often. Professional writing is not something we claim on a sometime basis. It is a full-time job of knowing even when you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

When you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

Stick to a writing schedule

View your time writing as a first date where it’d be horrible to miss, or show up late. I often tell those I coach to set an appointment on their calendar to sit down and write. Once set, treat it as a meeting at work you cannot miss. On Monday morning at 6 am, or Wednesday at 7:30 pm you must show up. No excuses.

(If you want to work full-time as a writer, why not start practicing now?)

Discipline gets things done

When I was writing my book, God in Your Morning, I woke up an hour earlier every morning to write. Within that hour sometimes I was only able to write a paragraph. Other times, I wrote pages upon pages. There were days I stared at a blank screen for 45 minutes and wished I had stayed in bed.

Regardless of how each writing session went, faithfully I woke up early every day to make my writing appointment. The benefits? I completed my book within six months.

My writing friends and those who knew of my book project were impressed with how quickly it took me. The funny thing is I did not do anything impressive in finishing. I simply had discipline, and discipline — applied in large or small amounts — always gets the job done.

Discipline always gets the job done.

Professionals know writing is messy

Putting beautiful words together is ugly. That almost sounds like a funky kind of oxymoron, but it is the truth. I cannot tell you how many rewrites I have seen great news articles undergo. Red ink and cross-outs decorate a writer’s finest work.

I tend to see many beginning writers grow frustrated because they have not gotten it right from the start. It does not read as beautifully as the idea pictured in their head. The commas are out of place. They have not found the correct adverb, adjective, and wonder if that paragraph should be kept.

This is all understandable. I have my frustrations also. We all do. However, professional writers know the most important part of the first draft is getting the idea out of their head and onto the blank page. Once that is done, the first milestone has been crossed.

So keep writing, even when it does not sound beautiful. Even when it means crawling out of bed when you’d prefer to be sleeping, or relaxing with a movie on. Then once you are done, go back and reread it. Make it something remarkable (like a professional).

 

How to Prepare You (and Your Book) to be Edited

Congratulations. You have written your manuscript (or article) and have found an editor. This is an exciting process as you become closer to having your work in the hands of readers. However, let us keep first things first. Here’s a quick list of how to prepare for this next stage in your writing journey.

pexels-photo (1).jpg

Make sure you’ve proofread your writing at least once

Now before you tell me I am contradicting myself, because I warned against being your own editor, hear me out. Before sending your rough draft to any editor make sure you have read it at least once thoroughly and checked for errors. While we can never catch all the mistakes in our writing, there are typos we can correct on our own.

This will show your editor you care about your work more when she (or he) does not have to correct simple errors they know you could have caught on your own. (And yes, we always know if you have proofread or not.)

Secondly, it may save you money. If you are paying your editor by the hour, not having them correct mistakes you could have done yourself saves them time in editing — which for you — means more money in your wallet.

Let your editor be your editor

You hired the person to edit your work. Allow them to do their job. A good editor will not only correct your punctuation and grammar, but suggest to you how to make your manuscript read better. She may move around sentences, or take out a complete paragraph that does not add to your piece. He may even help you rework your lede, or recommend you change it altogether.

Remember, your editor is here to make your work read its best. While it is your writing, your editor cares just as much about your piece as you do. It’s also a reflection of them and they are here to help you. It can be tough seeing all the red cross-outs. You may have been attached to a certain line or word in a sentence. However, if it does not make sense to your editor chances are it won’t make sense to your readers. Be flexible during the editorial process and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the end result.

Your editor is not your co-author

While your editor will rewrite a sentence and correct what is wrong or missing, he is not responsible for rewriting chapters, or even portions of chapters of your book. An editor is here to correct your writing, not be the author of it.

Don’t get upset when your editor returns your manuscript with “homework” for you to do. It is their responsibility to correct what is wrong, but it is your obligation to make the changes necessary.

Editing is an art of patience

You did not write your manuscript in a day so be understanding that editing takes time. While you have provided your editor with the “bones” and they are only improving upon the foundation you have already laid, it still takes long hours do.

Have patience with your editor and do not become frustrated when they don’t have your work edited at a snap of a finger. However, if they take too long or lack in communication you may need to address your concerns accordingly.

You have the final say so

Regardless of what an editor may recommend you change or delete, your manuscript will always be yours. If you aren’t happy with a revision they have provided you do not have to keep it. While an editor usually knows what is best for your future publication, it will forever be a product of what you envisioned. Don’t be afraid to tell your editor, “thanks, but no thanks” if you truly desire to keep something the way it is. Yet, I do recommend first discussing this with your editor and perhaps the two of you can work together in producing what suits you two best.

 

Happy editing!

 

Why Even Good Writers Need Editors

You can be a writer and an editor. You just can’t be both for yourself.

pexels-photo

It’s hard to catch your own mistakes. You know how your work is supposed to sound, read, and what emotions you want it to capture. So when you go to edit yourself you still have all these things in mind. You’re too attached to your work and aren’t able to look at it with a different set of eyes.

Who could use an editor?

Everyone: bloggers, journalists, students, authors — both those traditionally published and self-published — technical writers, and the like.

Newspapers and magazines have editors for their writers, and so do all major publishing houses.

Editors save you the embarrassment.

No one likes to make mistakes especially when there are a lot of people looking. If you’re seeking to get your manuscript into the hands of thousands, or even just a few hundreds of readers having an editor will benefit you. Your editor will catch all those grammar mistakes you didn’t realize you made because you were too focused on writing a great plot, and check for clarity to ensure your message is understood well. A good editor will suggest to you how you can strengthen a sentence by omitting a word, and even assist you in using all of your punctuation correctly.

The worse feeling an author can have is to finally have their book in front of readers and realize they made errors in their writing after its too late to fix them. I am sure your readers will appreciate having a writer who not only cares to tell a good story, but also takes time to ensure it’s delivered correctly.

I’ve read way too many reviews on Amazon.com from readers who have bought self-published books only to say the message was good, but the writer should have invested in a proofreader.

Personally, poor writing and a lack of editing will discourage me from further purchasing an author’s books. If a writer could not invest in their book to present it correctly, why should I invest in it and read through the errors?

With all of this in mind, I encourage you to have someone edit your work. It’ll help you become a better writer as you learn to correct your “writing slip-ups,” and gain respect from your future readers.

As a side note: if you are in need of an editor, or proofreader, please contact me via my contact tab. I am accepting submissions.

 

 

Caught

I was at the shop just about two,
When I saw you walking with Ms. Lena Blu.
Holding hands and touching smiling ear to ear,
It’s funny because I thought I was your only darling dear.
Next day I saw Lena I went to say hi,
And she told me how you were such a great guy-
Giving her kisses sending flowers to her home,
And just about every night spending five hours on the phone.
She was happy and giggly all because of you,
I felt so terrible to make her heart feel blue.
When I said Lena dear, you know he’s with another girl,
She said no he’s not, she’s not any good for my Earl.
So I asked her yes, well how would you know?
Oh darling she laughed, why he told me so!
He said she was no good, just wasn’t his kind,
Why between the two of us, he said she wasn’t worth a dime!
I took a step back with some sorrow in my heart,
And told her it was time I begin to depart.
On the way home thinking, why’d you’d do this to me,
I ran into an old friend of mine, Mr. Johnny B.
He said hello sweetheart, how ya doin’ today?
Mind if I talk to you while you’re on your way?
I said nope, sure don’t! Let’s chat for a while.
I linked my arm into his showing off my big smile.
But while we were walking I bumped into you,
Such shock did you have when I saw you with Ms. Lena Blu,
Although, the greater horror lied on Mr. Johnny B’s face,
As he saw his fiancé within another man’s embrace.
Caught we all were, that day around two,
Myself, my darling, Johnny B, and Ms. Lena Blu!