As some of my regular readers know, I have finally finished the first draft of my first book. It took me just under a year to complete. I must say, it has been a great ride and a wonderful experience. Because of that, I wanted to talk about the experience in depth. In hopes that I can help those that are either on the brink of starting their first book, or are in the middle of it.
With that said, the first thing I want to talk about is the single best advice I can give. A thing that was the biggest influence on my ability to finish. So here it is.
Get thee to a writing group.
Seriously, it was the one action I did that has propelled me to the point that I am at. Having a group of authors that you meet with on a regular basis is incredible. Their eyes on your early work will be an invaluable resource.
My particular group are all SciFi/Fantasy authors and readers. We meet every two weeks to critique up to four pieces of work from inside the group. There are several benefits to this:
- You are given a deadline. The Sunday between each meeting is deadline. Those who sign up to submit are required to have their work in by the following Sunday at midnight. For most people, a deadline will be the difference of noodling and getting it done.
- Hearing several opinions on your work–in person–gives you perspective. Too often we can become laser focused on our story that we miss some big issues. And when you hear several people say they have a problem with the same issue, then you really have a problem. These are your peers and your audience, listen to them.
- They provide motivation. Not only with the deadline, but through encouragement. Sure, not everything they say is going to be praise, and for some people negative criticism can feel like a boot to the face. Just keep in mind that they’re there to help you. Your writing group wants you to be as successful as you do. Take what they say and learn from it. Its never meant to hold you back.
So get out there and find a group. Or start one if you must. I found my group through meetup.com and they are an incredible group that I wouldn’t change for the world.
And I want to stress this: An online group is OK, but no real substitute for real human interaction. Being able to ask questions and watch their body language is important to the process. In addition to that, make sure everyone writes in your, or close to your genre. I was part of a group where everyone was writing Literary Fiction aside from me. Needless to say, none of us could really help each other.
Go forth. Find ye a writing group and flourish!