While driving down the road today, which was full of construction, I saw a few signs that I felt really applied to the writerly journey. At least, they’ve applied to mine so far.
So today I’d like to share with you lovely people ten Traffic Signs/Signals that I feel epitomize the process that is writing a book.
#1 – Green Light
Congratulations! You’ve got an idea and are geared up to go! You find a map (your plan to write, be it so many words or pages a day, or a deadline to finish, etc), plan your route (goals, outline, whatever), and get started, because NOTHING can stop you now!
#2 – Road Closed
Writers block… it happens to the best of us. Go here for an in depth look at different forms of writers block and how to overcome them. Just be careful. When finding your way back to your route don’t run into…
#3 – Detour
“Wait? How did I just spend two hours on my laptop and not write ANYTHING?!” You know them: Facebook. Twitter. Email. Pinterest. Instagram. Goodreads. Amazon. Whatever your weakness, there’s one for you! Your detour could also come in the form of plot bunnies. With either, take care of them if you wish, see where they go, but GET BACK ON TRACK.
#4 – Red Light
After all your hard work, your first draft is finished. You have permission to breathe a sigh of relief. Not everyone can even get this far. So take a break, and celebrate. Eat some chocolate. Watch some movies. Catch up on your TBR pile (yeah, right).
#5 – Road Work Ahead
If you’re new to this, you may think you’re done – oh, far from it my friend. Now’s the time to take a critical look at your Work in Progress, and theoretically rip it to shreds. Dig deep, and begin to EDIT.
#6 – WRONG WAY
We’ve all been there. In the process of reading through the first draft, you find a plot hole that you can’t BELIEVE you missed! (Or an inconsistency, or character problem, or time issue….) Don’t worry – that’s what edits are for. Back up; fix it.
#7 – Lane Merging
Once you’ve gone through your beloved WIP to clean it up, it’s safe to ask some experienced writers (I’d recommend one at a time) to read your work and critique it for you. Make sure you take time between Critique Partners to revise things. And I’d suggest trying to get a good mix of people – writers who write in and out of your genre, as well as readers who read in and out of your genre. That way you can get a feel for how your audience will react, as well as how others might think.
#8 – Blasting Zone Ahead
I know what you’re thinking: “Shouldn’t that read, ‘Road Closed?'” But I’ll tell you, this is the hardest part. Taking the comments from people you trust and trying to decide what to change and what NOT to change. Here’s a tip: if you get the same comment from multiple people, it’s probably something you want to fix. If you get something from just one, might just be their personal preference. Keep that in mind.
#9 – End Road Work, Thank You
If you’ve made it this far, you have my sincerest congratulations. It takes a lot of work to get here, and you have DONE IT! If you come to a point where your CP’s and you feel that your manuscript is polished and primed, you may again breathe a sigh of relief. Even fewer writers arrive here – you are the greatest of the great.
#10 – The Intersection
Now that your baby is complete, you have some choices to make. (And it ain’t just a four-way street, okay?) Do you want your work to be published? If so, do you want to self publish, or go traditional? Query? Synopsis? Pitch? Do you know what all these are? If you haven’t yet, now is the time to do your research. Decide what you want, and GO FOR IT. You’ll get another green light again soon, which will start you on a whole new journey. Just make sure you know your destination, and you’ll get there.
Even after this point, you’ll likely take the trip again. With the same manuscript, of a new one, the work never ends. Becoming a writer isn’t a destination – it’s a journey. Enjoy your craft, and have passion for it. If you do that, you’ll always find satisfaction and *hopefully* success as well. I love writing, and I’m enjoying my journey so far. Good luck on yours!
Can you think of any other signs that we see as we travel through our manuscripts?_____________________________________________________
Darci Cole is an author, homeschooler, Mormon, and wandmaker. She is a writer of YA and MG scifi/fantasy, usually with a romantic twist. Basically, she writes stuff she wants to read. Darci has edited a number of manuscripts for clients and also served as an editorial intern for Entangled Publishing during the summer of 2013. She is formerly Thor as part of the YAvengers.