Once a month I post up some of the questions that I have been receiving on Instagram in my weekly Q&A Sessions. I love getting these questions from other writers because it really shows how alike we all are in our pursuit towards our goals and how we experience similar struggles for our art. I hope that this helps you in your writing goals.
Q: What do you do when you feel like your writing doesn't seem very good?
A: Thanks for the question! This is really important to talk about! Firstly, you can't keep beating yourself up or putting yourself down. Know that your writing emulates your own unique voice and you cannot compare it to anyone else's. Your style is different, incomparable and beautiful.What I do when I don't feel like my writing is very good is I read through my work and note down each element I think could be/should be worked on. Then I keep revising it until I feel like I cannot do anything more to it. With each revision it will get better, but remember the first, second and third draft of anything will be shit. It's only after multiple revisions that it will start becoming an amazing piece. Do not judge your work based off the initial outcome of your writing!
Q: How do you make time for writing?
A: Hi! The way to make time, is to make it a priority. That means you need to make a schedule for your life and allot certain times of the day to get words down. Treat it like a job because it is work. Make it a necessity in your mind and it will become one. I would buy a diary to schedule your days and I would set an alarm clock to go off at the time you're to start writing. For me, I know my rough schedule and plan to write around 11pm onwards. I find that is a good time for me personally as I have nothing to do and I have completed other tasks for the day and night. Honestly, organisation is the key.
Q: What is the best way to prep for submission? And is blind submission still okay?
A: The best way to prep for submission is to make sure your query letter is the best that it can be. There is a website called Query Shark where a woman who is a lit agent gives tips on what makes queries stand out. Another thing you must check off is that your manuscript is as flawless as it is going to get and that means getting it checked over by an editor. You only get one shot to impress a publisher. By blind submission I am assuming you mean unsolicited manuscript? Most publishers do not take them, however more commonly they are so you have to check on their website. Otherwise, lit agents take unsolicited manuscripts.
Q: I love writing but I doubt myself a lot. I spend more time talking myself out of writing than actually writing. Help?!
A: Hi, I am sorry to hear that! A good place to start is to address the issues that are making you doubt yourself. I suggest making a list about what is holding you back. Once you have it all down it can help you analyse what your real issues are and it may not really stem from your writing at all, but affect it. Then address each of them and hopefully you will see results. I also suggest making a word limit of 300 words a day to help you write, if you are having trouble. Giving yourself something to work towards can help.
Q: I have written around 50 plus poems. I want to get them published but at the same time I don't want to sell the rights as they are very close to me. What should I do?
A: Hello and welcome! You are a perfect candidate for self-publishing! That is where you use websites like Amazon or Smashwords to publish your works yourself. It is inexpensive and the book rights is wholly yours. The money from people buying it will be yours but wherever you self-publish it will take a small percentage. If you go with a traditional publisher they take rights over your work but the benefit is that they have money to market your book, whereas in self-publishing it is all up to you.
In addition, you can get your book published in soft copy format if you self publish but there are companies such as Createspace.com will print it for you but the cost is on you. You can find the guidelines on the self-publishing sites for free and then upload it yourself from Word or PDF.
Q: How do you come up with character names? What resources do you recommend? I need to find a middle and a last name. Do you base it off what sounds good to you or do you look up the meaning and origin as well?
A: Hey! For my main characters I scour the website www.behindthename.com or other baby name websites. For minor characters I go by what sounds good, but for main ones I like for there to be some meaning behind it but it depends. Generally, I make a list of all the names I like and use it as I write. Quite often I get names from my university text books. A lot of my characters are names of Supreme Court judges or are the names from cases either Plaintiff or the Defendant.
Q: I am having trouble establishing my characters? Can you help?
A: Hi! Well, I would start with individual characterisation and for that, the best thing to do is create a backstory for your character and then get to know them as a person. Who they are, what are their fears and try to see if there is something that connects you to them in some way to help you grasp what they are thinking. Maybe do an interview with them or make a journal of their thoughts about what is happening around them. Then analyse their thoughts and feelings about other characters. As for secondary characters, my tip for those is that you do the same as above, but write with the knowledge that every character thinks the story is about them...despite not being YOUR main character, they are their own hero. Don't write a secondary character if they are the additional person.
Thanks for reading, I hope that these questions and answers have been helpful! Let me know if you have additional questions below. I will post up more each month, but there are just so many questions to get through. I have hundreds waiting to be displayed and I will endeavour to put them up when I can!