I haven't blogged in a bit, and I'm so happy to have this opportunity to return as the blogger for Tactical Tuesday.
In preparing for this blog, I thought long and hard about what advice I could give with regard to self editing. Then it hit me: the best advice I can give to authors tweaking their manuscripts to make the greatest impact upon an editor. Punctuation, grammar, and spelling are important. Having a handle on the elements of story telling such as character, plot, conflict, and point of view are imperative. Still, there is something that must be done before any self editing can occur.
An author must put into concrete form their dreams, their ideas, the stories that burn in his soul, that ache to be born on paper. You can't edit the ideas in your head. You can change your mind. You can play what if and take the story in a different direction, but not until it is down on paper can you make it into the work of art all authors want their stories to become. Let's face it. Authors write--on paper. Daydreamers dream--keeping the stories inside their heads.
So, today, I'm asking you to self edit yourself. Take time to put your daily routines on paper. Be honest. Do you pick up your phone or your iPad to play Angry Birds or Words with Friends? Are your posts on Facebook and Twitter part of your word count for the day?
Do you volunteer, give of your time to others? Do you critique? Are you a beta reader? How about volunteering for organizations that help mentor to writers? How about working for and having fellowship with members of your church? Helping others is never wrong. Most often when we give from our heart we get back ten-fold, especially when God is in the endeavor. The key to helping others and avoiding the feeling of being put upon, is to realize that to become a writer, to tell the stories that God has placed on your heart, you need to put aside time for the creation of story. Scheduling that time and preventing others from taking it from you (as much as is possible) establishes some boundaries for you as well as well-meaning family and friends who might encroach upon that time.
Really, it's fine to enjoy life outside our strange little writers' worlds, but if you find that five hours of your day are devoted to activities that fail to move your writing career forward, you may want to reconsider your priorities. Five hours of optimized usage of time can equate to quite a large word count.
The key to self-editing our schedules is to prioritize. Add blocks of time to your day to play those games that call to many of us, to visit the social networks, to mentor others, and to fellowship with family and friends. Review your daily routines. Discover when you write best (my best writing time is between 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. when I'm least needed by family and friends, but that isn't always practical). Also, remember to schedule time to exercise. Creativity seems to explode when the blood isn't rushing to the rear sitting in the chair and instead courses through our brain cells.
Each of us have demands on our lives. Some lucky folks, write full time. Some hold down a job and a myriad of family and other obligations. The key to self-editing ourselves and revising our schedule is to decide when and how much time can be devoted to writing. Even a hundred words a day can add up. Oh, and no! Posts to Facebook or Twitter don't count. I know. I polled my writing friends. None would allow me to get away with it. However, they did think me clever for coming up with the idea. But honesty won out in the end.