Apr 7, 2010

Blood, Sweat, & Ink

Writing is a craft. It is something that requires time and dedication…and more time. You must practice, learn, and eventually, you will grow as a writer.

It isn’t always easy. It will, at times, suck. But practice will make you a better writer and, in the end, you’ll be grateful for all of your hard work.

So, how does one “write better”? There are several ways. Some will have you shell out some cash. Others will leave your wallet intact.

Option 1: Join a local writers group. In the DFW area, we have this nifty little thing called Writer’s Workshop. Now, I haven’t exactly attended a meeting but Tiffany Neal and ChristaCarol Jones have, and they assure me, it’s worth the $100 a year, membership cost.

Option 2: Grab yourself a nice, grammar-wise Critique Partner. This is one of my favorites! Critique Partners, as well as Critique Groups, are invaluable. They provide help with plots, characters, writers block…oh yeah, even grammar. It isn’t always easy to find a compatible CP/CG, though. Sometimes,  it just doesn’t work out. Maybe your writing just doesn’t mesh well enough for your partner to properly critique your baby. Or, maybe you write different genres. Maybe (and this is a big one) your time/dedication differs from your partner's. Do they have 5 kids, a full time job, and an weekly PTA meeting to plan? Are you single with nothing but your WIP to keep you busy? Yes and yes? Then you have a potential problem, honey.

When picking your partner, go in knowing that you might not be on equal footing. Remember to be patient and understanding. And remember that opinions are just that—opinions. Maybe your CP thinks you should leave out the part about your MC’s dead grandfather’s tragic demise, but you think it helps to explain why your MC is the way she is. Opinions, opinions.

Option 3: Instead of the tried and true “edit, critique, and revise” method, try a different way to perfect your writing: Writing Exercises. Exercises can help you to improve your skills while keeping your creativity active. Casey McCormick has some great exercises on her blog, Literary Rambles. You can also find more “creative excercises” at PoeWars.com.

That being said, I’ve saved the best for last. Blogfests. Yep, that’s right—blogfests. Here’s how it works: Some awesome writer/blogger puts out the word that they are hosting a blogfest. They tell you what you’re supposed to write about, and you sign up on their blog, then go off and write a scene based on the parameters of the blogfest. On the date of the big event, you post your scene to your blog and *ta da* you’re done. People will see your name on the sign up sheet, then come to your blog to check out what you wrote, and leave comments telling you what they think of your entry. How simple is that? Did I mention it’s TONS of fun? True story.

So get to it, Anne Riley and Tara Fouts are hosting two Blogfests this weekend that are sure to be phenominal!


  1. Great tips - my crit buddies are worth their weight in anything at all!

  2. These were great, Courtney. Tweeting to it! I've never written for a blogfest (usually copy/paste something from a ms or WIP), I've always been intimidated by the time to put forth in writing it, but I should definitely give it a try and stop being a pansy, huh? :)

  3. Thanks for the shout out for the blogfest.

    I loved this post and am linking to it in my Friday Follows tomorrow. I'm currently trying to pull a critique group together and we will meet for the first time next week.

  4. Jemi- I agree! My critters ROCK!

    ChristaCarol- Time restrictions do make me a little nervous. But it isn't like you have to come up with a whole book, just one little bitty scene. I have repeat that to myself over and over again. It's just an excercise; it doesn't have to be perfect. Can't wait to read your Blogfests!

    Charity- You betcha! And congrats for getting a crit group together. I love mine--they are SO much help, and it's nice to see what everyone else it working on. Sometimes, they even inspire a new scene. Congrats, and good luck! See you at Blogfest!

  5. Your post is appreciated. Time is limited, and yet you go out of your way to help and advise. Thanks, Roland.

    If you're of a mind and you have the time, please come check out my entry in the murder scene blogfest. It is from my historical fantasy, RITES OF PASSAGE, set aboard a transatlantic steamer in 1853. Thanks, again. Roland


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