writing

Writing Wednesday: Writer’s Groups and Rewriting Loops – OOPS!

Last Week’s Goals

My blog entries were all posted on their days, although I had to manually push one of them (I think WordPress changed the progression  of buttons I have to push to schedule a post for a particular day and time, and I’m missing the extra SCHEDULE button; I need be careful of doing things on autopilot.) All my available stories remain on their ill-fated voyages in the market-space (I did say I’m an optimist, right?).

My next indie release will be on April 16th, and it will be Herc Tom #11. I don’t shop my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire stories to markets anymore – it’s hard to interest a traditional publisher in a later story in a series of indie published shorts (the same holds for my Detective Jimmy Delaney series.) I have at least one more revision to do, plus picking a title, cover creation and formatting, but I should have plenty of time.

I’m participating in Smashwords 12th Annual Read an eBook Week Sale through March 13th. My collections and Swordsmaster are all on sale there from 50% – 75% off. I have links to most of them on my Current Book Promotions page.

I’m still promoting with Indies Unlimited Thrifty Thursdays and Kindle Unlimited Fridays. I haven’t tried for any other promotion sites, and the downloads of my free stuff have definitely slowed. I need to get back to actively promoting (outside this site.)

Six days of writing (revising Herc Tom #11 and “An Uncanny Conversation”) produced a mere 2,194 words, which means that this is the first week this year that I failed to reach my goal of 3,500 (glad that’s over.) The Herc Tom story is currently a 12,840 word novelette.

Writing Groups

When dinosaurs ruled the earth (well, maybe not that long ago, but it feels that way) I decided to become a writer. I needed a creative outlet, and when I considered my options, resuming my theatre activities required scheduling that I could not manage, while playing my musical instruments relied on the goodwill of the people who were going to be forced to listed (it’s a small house), so I settled on writing – something I could do on my own and somewhat on my own schedule.

I did a lot of individual study about what I needed to do to become a writer (hint – the MOST important thing is Heinlein’s first rule:

A WRITER MUST WRITE

But after that, there are other things suggested, such as becoming involved in a writers group to exchange critiques of our work, and knowledge about various aspects of the writing life. So I joined an online writing community and spent four or so years “paying my dues” – doing critiques of partial and completed works by other members. In that time, I hoped to receive reciprocal critiques of my own attempts, but very little of that happened. It may have been that I was simply no good at building a hook in my stories (quite possible), or that it was so bad that no one wanted to touch it (that I won’t buy), or that there simply weren’t enough people there interested in helping someone else – takers instead of givers (I can’t reliably judge whether that was the case.)

The end result of my time with the group was that I got a good idea of how other fairly “young” (in the craft) writers wrote, but spent far more time giving than receiving (and also losing much of the time I had to do my own writing), so I left the group.

As a side note – I have heard that you should not stay in a writing group for more than a year (unless you just like the social atmosphere.) Once you’ve been with the same people for that long, you tend to not be able to provide any new insights to each other, and chances are your skill levels have diverged (we all grow at different rates.)

The experience left a bad taste in my mouth about groups, and I haven’t attempted another group until recently. So far, this looks like the kind of group I should have joined to begin with (the strictly online community of anonymous, unseen text producers doesn’t seem as vital as being able to see and speak with your fellow writers (even if it IS on ZOOM.) This group seems hell-bent on helping each other without stepping all over each other’s sensitivities at the same time. It’s understood that it’s your story, and up to you to decide exactly how much and what kind of feedback you need. So far, so good.

Rewriting Loops

There is a trap that an unwary writer can fall into when his work is critiqued. It’s very easy to take the feedback from a single reader and decide that they are right, and rewrite the story to satisfy them. Then another reader’s input sends you in a different direction (sometimes even in the opposite direction of the first), and you find yourself looping about, revising and rewriting, trying to satisfy each of your critics.

This happened to me while I was in the online writers’ community I mentioned, which is a large part of why it took me four years to complete my first short story.

“But it’s alright now

I’ve learned my lesson well

You see you can’t please everyone

So you’ve got to please yourself.”

Thankfully, I don’t do that anymore.

The fact is, this trap doesn’t even require the writer to have anyone giving feedback – except their own INFERNAL EDITOR™. There are many writers who cannot bring themselves to accept that their story is finished – they kep writing and rewriting, never arriving at the point where they feel it’s ready to be called done. They have a very hard time living by Heinlein’s second rule:

A WRITER MUST FINISH WHAT HE WRITES.

There may be some value in rewriting, but at some point, you have to send it out the door (another Heinlein rule) and get on with your next story. If you strive for perfection, you will always be disappointed. And if you’re growing in your craft, you will  always be able to make it just a little better (it’s why I don’t go back and rewrite my own work – how long do you really want to spend writing the same story?

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough.

Just saying…

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For information on my current promotions (including the FREE Presale and reduced price preorders for Cats of War III, my participating books in the 14th Annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, as well as FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.

Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Want to help me make a go of this writing gig WITHOUT IT COSTING YOU A PENNY? I’m in the Amazon Affiliates program, so any time you click one of the links I provide here to my books on Amazon, and then make a purchase of something like, say, a TV, I get a small percentage of Amazon’s profit. So PLEASE consider using one of my links to get to Amazon before you make that next purchase. Thanx!

To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW)

or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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