The 5 Stages of Edit Letter Grief

It’s an exciting time in a writer’s life! You’ve taken your book as far as you can get it by yourself and you send it off to your CP/Agent/Editor and they turn around and give you an edit letter detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly about your manuscript and lots of notes on what needs work.

It’s like standing at basecamp on an enormous mountain, looking out on the beauty around and marveling at how high up you are… You take a deep breath and while you’re filling your lungs with all that delicious oxygen, your guide sneaks around and gut punches you then points to the top of the mountain and yells, KEEP CLIMBING!

Getting an edit letter—be it your first or one thousandth—you’re bound to go through at least a few of the stages below.

  1. Denial. My editor has NO idea who my characters are, has no concept of the heart of the story and is ABSOLUTELY wrong! These are NOT the changes that need to happen in this story!
  2. Anger. Well crap, my editor is right. The book really does need these changes, BUT THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE! How in the world can she even ask me to do them? Her notes were too vague. She’s basically setting me up to fail!
  3. Bargaining. Okay, I can see how to do a few of the notes, but the others? No idea! What about  I change these few things, then I bet it won’t be necessary to do the rest of your suggestions… okay? Not enough? What can I give you to just lie and say it’s ready?
  4. Depression. I’m finally vibing with all these suggested edits, my editor was totally right. Why didn’t I think of these changes in the first place? It’s because I’m a TERRIBLE writer with no imagination! My editor should just finish this manuscript because she obviously knows better than I do. I suck. I suck. I suck.
  5. Acceptance. I just fell in love with my manuscript all over again after finishing these edits. I love writing! I love my editor! I love edit letters!

Any of this sound familiar? Oh it sure does to me because I’ve been there… many times!

A tip for working through these stages as quickly as possible? When you get your letter, let the notes sit for awhile before you start trying to make it work. If you sit down and try to start implementing before they’ve had time to marinate a bit, you’re going to get stuck in one of the first four stages and it will take you longer to move on to stage 5…

If you’re wondering how I tackle edit letters, check out these blog posts.

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Does #PitchWars Increase Your Chances of Signing with an Agent?

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a huge fan of Brenda Drake’s #PitchWars!

I was in #PitchWars in 2014, received about 7 agent requests for my manuscript, and one of those requests later turned into an offer of representation!

The majority of the #PitchWars2014 class are still in contact thanks to a not-so SUPER-SECRET Facebook page, and although I can’t attest to the entire #PitchWars class (there were over a 100), I do have stats for the 85 mentees who participate in our group.

So, does being in #PitchWars increase your chances of getting an agent offer? I would say, YES! Out of the 85 mentees who participate in the Facebook group, 50 are agented and of those, 18 have book deals.

BONUS FOR INQUIRING MINDS: I would say the majority of those offers happened between January and July of 2015, but mostly toward the beginning of the year. For example, I was the 18th one in the group to receive an agent offer and I received my first offer at the beginning of February.

But HOW #PitchWars helps you get an agent may not be the way you think.

I did a poll of the 2014 mentees and 49 people responded…

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Out of the 36 people who responded that are now agented, only 5 of those offers happened because the agent requested via the #PitchWars agent showcase.

So, the numbers don’t lie. It is VERY clear that #PitchWars does indeed help you get an agent, but not necessarily because agents are going to see your work at the showcase. #PitchWars helps you get an agent because it’s one of the only contests that focuses on craft over connections.

@destinywrites

In #PitchWars, you’re working with mentors who have been around the writing block a time or two and are committed to seeing your manuscript become the very best it can be. They are committed to helping you fill in the plot holes, tighten up your dialogue, and make your manuscript and query so polished that when you start querying (which you will RIGHT away, trust me), you’ll start getting requests. Then when other agents read, they get all grabby hands with your book.

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Not only that, but working with a mentor also teaches you how to edit with an edit letter, hone your query, develop a pitch, and also exposes you to other writers. And finding your writing community is the only thing that’s going to get you through this crazy journey.

If you’re a writer of any genre who is looking for that extra edge before they start querying, give #PitchWars a try! You can find out all the info HERE.

And I’m so excited to be a #PitchWars mentor this year with Lynnette Labelle for you YA authors out there!

Writing Routines…

So I’ve been thinking a lot about writing routines and how I can implement them in my own life.

I’m busy… I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that a time or two thousand times. But I also could do better with time management. Discipline is always something that I strive for, but tend to burn myself out on trying to be too strict. However, I’ve discovered that I need more time to write than what I have right now and the only way to find that time is to make the time.

I recently enrolled in Jessica Brody’s time management course for writers and I think the most significant thing I got out of it (besides a nifty word count tracker spreadsheet that ignites my competitive spirit) is the fact that I need to establish a writing routine.

For me, it’s not something I should do, but rather must do. If I’m going to be an actual legit writer who writes at least a book a year—while maintaining a full-time job, family, and social life—than I must establish a writing routine or I’ll fall flat on my face.

Jessica is big on the writing routine, even if it’s for short periods of time, which is good because it’s all I can give at the present. I’m thinking if I could just get in one dedicated hour in the morning before all the hassle of my day begins (and before I check work email or social media), then I can still write at night like I currently do, but it will be bonus words versus my only words.

So here’s what I’m thinking…

weekly writing routine

I won’t get in to all the tips Jessica gives (because you can just sign up for her class and get them all yourself… It’s super cheap!) but I really loved getting an insight into a successful author’s routine. I’m also interested to find out other writer’s routines. I’m going to be asking around, so I’ll post a follow up to this blog with some helpful tips! I’d also love to hear from you in the comments!

Is There A “Writer Type”?

Sometimes I think I have a weird personality for a writer.

I’m not emotional enough.

Not artistic enough.

Not introverted enough.

Instead, I’m a Type-A personality. Driven. Focused. Blunt. Organized. Business minded.

I set goals quarterly and focus on the future and have professional goals outside of publishing.

Because of this, people often discount the creative in me. They are surprised that I write. They are surprised that I struggle with depression. They are surprised that I feel things on so many levels at the same time. Surprised that I internalize my emotions.

“Oh, I wouldn’t have guessed that about you,” is something I hear often.

And it’s been that way my entire life.

I used to think that writing was just what everyone’s go-to outlet was. That it was normal that I obsessively wrote in my journals as a teen. That it was normal I penned poems on scraps of paper and then threw them away in between class. That everyone needed to write out their emotions in some weird poem or story to understand what exactly they were feeling.

But I wasn’t a writer.

I was going to be a lawyer. A businesswoman. A politician.

I wasn’t creative enough to write.

And so that’s what I believed for years and years.

Until I grew so tired of telling myself I wasn’t a writer that it forced me to realize that being a writer was all I ever was.

So maybe I’m not the classic “writer type.”

Maybe I’m not traditionally creative and maybe marketing comes easier than beautiful prose.

But I’m still a writer.

I write to explore the world around me.

I write as an answer to the stereotypes that push against me.

I write to discover who I am outside of labels and categories and expectations and fears.

I write because that’s how I answer my own questions about faith and love and forgiveness and pain and bigotry and motherhood and so much more.

I write for me. I write for you.

I write.

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Should You Outline Your Novel?

I consider myself to be a very organized person, especially in my professional life. Running social media and digital marketing for a large entity, it’s kind of a must.

That organization flows over into parts of my personal life (though I’m NOT a cleaner, so get that out of your head) I have 3 elementary-aged kids who all play sports, and well let me tell you. It’s either be organized or suck as a mom.

So naturally, when it comes to writing, I’m more of a plotter. That is, until I actually sit down to write. I never understood what writers meant when they said, “the characters tell me what the story is about” until I got serious about writing. Now, instead of thinking of those people like dramatic overly creative hippies, I find that it’s actually quite true.

Thoughts and ideas come to you when you’re engaged in the act of creating. Twists and turns you could have never thought of when plotting, all of sudden pour out of your mind and you struggle to keep up and catch it all onto paper.

So is that to say you shouldn’t plot? 
No way!

Plotting is essential for me. It helps keep my pacing on pace. It helps me know where I’m going. It helps me make sure I’m not just meandering around the plot and filling the page with pretty words.

What does an outline look like for me? Something a little like this (this is obviously made up and not a book I’m working on):

  • story opens with Jill. Set the need for her to get up the hill to get the magical healing water for her sister. Magical water is guarded by scary/evil creatures. No one has ever gotten the healing water since her ancestors 300 years ago.
  • meets Jack. Lots of chemistry. Jack is sick himself, but doesn’t tell Jill.
  • Jill’s sister gets even sicker. She has to get up that hill and get the water.
  • Jack offers to help her.
  • Break into the town leader’s hut and steals the magical pail that Jill’s ancestors used hundreds of years ago to bring down the water.
  • the start up the hill and get sidetracked by an ogre
  • ogre invites them for tea,
  • almost eaten by ogre. Jill saves the day by smashing ogre with pail
  • Pail is broken now. Need to figure out a way to mend it.
  • Have to go back down the hill to mend the pail.
  • ogre’s brother finds them while they are waiting for pail to be mended
  • instead of killing them, he steals pail when he overhears them talking about magical properties of the well
  • they go after the ogre to get back their pail.
  • make it up the hill, almost dying from a pack of demon wolves that Jack and Jill slay.
  • Finds shriveled ogre dead at the opening of the cave where the magical water is. Looks like he was thrown out. Pail is by his side.
  • Picks up pail and goes in.
  • Finds an ancient witch who makes them pass through 3 tests.
  • Recognizes Jill and calls her by her ancestor’s name. Jill finds out that it was actually her great-great-great-etc grandmother who bested the witch, not her great-great-great-etc grandfather as legend says
  • Pass 2 tests, but the last test will require the sacrifice of someone you love
  • realizes she loves Jack and he loves her, and before she can stop him, he sacrifices himself to the witch.
  • Jill is able to get the water in the magical pail, and gets dying Jack down the hill where she has to choose whether to give the water to him or to her sister.
  • He tells her he was dying anyways and before she can stop him, he gives the water to the sister.
  • the witch appears says she will heal Jack if Jill promises to become the new guardian of the healing waters. Jill agrees and the witch heals Jack.
  • Jill has to be back up the hill in exactly one year. Jack vows to figure out a way to free her from her promise to the witch.

So as you can see, it’s basically just bullet points that guides me on my writing journey. WHO KNOWS what would actually happen if I wrote this story because, like I said above, these are just loose outlines and the story evolves.

That’s my favorite part about writing actually. The evolution of a story idea.

Writing is tangible magic and I get to be the wizard who wields it.

writing is tangible magic and I get to be the wizard who wields it.

How do you like to outline?