What I Learned After Writing Five Books (About Editing Mostly)

I consider myself a newbie author. Meaning, I’ve got a lot to learn, and with every new book, comes new lessons learned. Here are a few that stuck with me after I completed Book #4 – SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT:

1. Please, PLEASE, please don’t edit the first draft while you write. If you do, you risk not expressing what is truly in your heart. So what if the draft’s a little rough around the edges or even all over? Go for it because you are not only allowed a second chance, but many chances to make corrections and edits;

2. Don’t wait until right before a deadline to start writing or those many chances I just mentioned will diminish. Which brings me to this quote by Douglas Adams:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

I like the concept and the whooshing is intriguing, but the reality for me is, I love the satisfaction of beating a deadline. Or at least, getting to it on time. If the deadline passes, this is what I feel like doing:

Yep, climbing up to the treetop and hiding out.

3. I believe in flexibility, in one’s physical and mental capacity, in eating, sleeping and practically everything, but writing. If you truly want to reach “The End”, a schedule is a must. For instance, schedule in one full hour of writing. Or two or six. If that doesn’t work, schedule fifteen minutes. And don’t waiver.

You can eat…or drink after the allotted time. Trust me. The satisfaction of actually doing it is incomparable. Doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write something. Know why? Yep. You can go back and edit to your heart’s content (or close to it).

4. Last lesson for today: After you’re done with final edits, you’re not. A publisher once told me to edit the book from back to front when final edits are complete. I dragged my feet (or my fingers, in this case), but I did it, back to front! And you know what? I found errors I’d missed. Not many, but still.

A little effort can go a long way!

You Can Bank On It! A Special Account for Writers

Oh, I’m sorry! Did you think this post would be about authors and money? Because it’s not. It is about a collections account and the writing life, but it’s about a different kind of collections account. It may not make you financially rich (or it might), but it will make you rich in positive emotions.

Compliments are like having money in the bank. Both give us a sense of security and well-being. So shouldn’t we open an account where we can keep compliments safe and watch them grow with interest?

A small notebook, journal, index cards, even a napkin will do to create a list or an account to deposit compliments. A compliment collection has value and serves many purposes. If we pay more attention to compliments, they’ll squeeze out any negative remarks that may be thrown our way. Isn’t that priceless? A compliment collection can also combat the dastardly inner critic when it offers unwelcome discouragement. The best part? Compliments can give us that extra push to pursue our dreams with a more definite purpose. And they remind us that we can do it!

Keeping track of niceties about our books, our writings, or anything that promotes a happy flutter inside of us, is a must. It helps us acknowledge our strengths and reminds us how much we love what we do. Years ago, I kept track of wonderful events that happened to me daily thoughtful gestures from children and Husband and kindnesses from strangers. The driver who slowed so I could get on the road; the librarian who generously brought my favorite cookies to my book event. My insides glowed every time I went back and read through the kindnesses.

Anyone who’s ever had any type of collection, from stamps to teapots to golf balls, knows that collections tend to grow. What better than a rapidly growing compliment collection?

Writing: What's Essential During Covid 19?

These days we read and hear a lot about essential workers. A small sampling: Medical professionals working all hours to take care of so many; food industry workers keeping the supply running steady, and nursery employees who ensure we maintain the beauty and peace of lovely gardens to give us a lift.

There are other kinds of essentials we need in our lives that aren’t discussed as often; the essentials that we should insert into our minds: positive news, powerful thoughts and compassion toward others, to name a few.

Let’s switch gears to the non-essential inhabitants moving into our heads. What are we allowing in our minds that’s not essential? For starters, any type of negation.

I recently heard a story about a man given up as dead by doctors after 80 percent of his body was burned. But through the support and love of family and friends, he started recovering slowly…until his own negative self-talk reminded him he didn’t deserve to live. He sank into a depression and poor recovery re-emerged. He developed a high fever and asked a nurse to read to him.

She picked up an inspirational book and read a piece about not allowing past mistakes or distressing circumstances to play a central role in one’s life. When she’d finished, she took his temperature. It had dropped! His state of mind had instantly changed when positive content entered his thoughts.

We are living in unsettling times. I’ve talked to fellow authors who say they just can’t write lately. I debated mentioning Covid 19 in my writing, but ultimately didn’t because Covid thoughts made me sink. I prefer to float.

Now is the time to take excellent care of our physical and mental health, and one of the best ways to do the latter is to write your heart out. You can write about Covid 19 if it brings you a sense of relief and peace.

I read and write to escape reality. To disappear into an adventure without leaving my home. In between writing, I fill my head with positives so I have an ample arsenal stored when negative circumstances come a-knocking. Why not experiment and write positive content, and see how it makes you (and your readers) feel?