Saturday, October 26, 2013


§  You will waste a lot of paper. Wasting paper and purchasing printer cartridges are part of the trade. When you print your work and find it's beyond help or you need to start over, throw it away and delete it from your computer. Physically throwing it into the trash signifies a new start mentally. Don’t worry about killing trees. Like crops, trees for paper mills are planted, held in rotation until mature, and harvested.

§  Writing is a lonely, solitary occupation. Writing takes time. You will miss being out in the sunshine or watching your favorite television show. You may miss family gatherings with a deadline near. You will miss sleep. Make friends with other writers. They understand your crazy burning need to create.

§  Find a place to write where you feel comfortable and secure. Arm the location with a good collegiate dictionary, The Chicago Manuel of Style, and an unabridged Roget’s Thesaurus. Roget’s has more than ten times the amount of synonyms than any online site. Then, find something that signals routine and the need to sit down and write—like making your bed, drinking that second cup of coffee or tea, or taking your dog for his morning walk—or evening one if you write at night.

§  Never, never send out your first draft to anyone, anywhere. If possible, let your words sit for a while to cool like a hot custard pie. It’s easier to see missing data, mistakes, and grammar problems when you’ve distanced yourself from your work. Having trouble finding your mistakes? If you’re prone to using Times New Roman on your computer screen, print your work out in a different font like Courier, Arial, or Century Schoolbook. Have a friend help you. Intensive editing is part of the writing process.

§  Don’t believe people who say that writing doesn’t have to be as perfect as possible—because that’s what editors are for. Everyday, editors reject dozens of manuscripts. Do you think they’ll accept one with grammar and punctuation mistakes or basic sentence structure problems? Your writing is a reflection of who you are. It’s your first shot at making an impression and getting a toehold into the publishing world. Just like a job interview, you need to make it a good one.


  1. These really are five things all new writers should know.

    I really loved the first one! When I was little I used to be so sad if I wasted a piece of paper, because trees were my friends! lol But you're right, wasting paper and ink is all part of being a writer. I have a pile of empty ink cartridges because Staples recycles them and in exchange I get $2 for each one. I just counted and I have 12. :D

  2. Join the crowd, Chrys! I am astounded by the reams of paper and cartridges I use. I tried using the other side of my misfit/discarded print-outs and found that it only confused me and jammed my printer. Also, I like to see "clean" copy which means no messy backside either. LOL. Writers are fickle! Thanks for your post.

  3. 1) Use paper. So true. I three-hole punch my drafts and put it those sheets into a three-ring binder so I can take it anywhere (see 3). Love to work with pencil or pen to then edit and rewrite on opposing blank page.

    2) Writing is a matter of being in a space where your only companion is self-doubt.

    3) Nah. You can write anywhere. And should.

    4) One of my novellas (One More Victim) took me 30 years to finish. Don't be impatient. Re-read, re-think, leave it alone and then one day go back to it.

    5) Make it as perfect as you can. But none of us is perfect.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I can see if you write long hand that your notebook is quite portable. LOL You're a dinosaur! Most young people don't write without a keyboard. I agree, that no one is perfect, but to get the notice of an editor at a publishing house, clean copy is vital. BTW, I worked as a journalist, too, before moving into PR and education. Fun times with those deadlines!