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Sharing your writing is such an important part of the writing process. It is in fact the main reason for writing – you want to be heard. This is one of the basic human requirements for emotional health – not to be sniffed at. And nothing to be ashamed of.

So, how to do this?

The traditional route has been publication. But – as we all know – although you can improve your chances in many ways, publication is a long slow route to ‘being heard’.

Quicker and – in some ways – equally effective is reading aloud. And you can do this to family, friends, and your local community. Writers’ groups and literature festivals with ‘open mic’ sessions when everyone has an opportunity to read abound. The Way in? To find a group near you, check out the National Association of Writers’ Groups (www.nawg.co.uk.)  

Join several – different demographics. More testing that way – and although you may feel more comfortable with, say, the middle-aged and middle-class – how rewarding if your words impact on twenty-year-old former illicit drug users!

If you live in an almost writers’ group free zone, however, all is not lost. There are a number of on-line writers’ communities for advice, information and critiquing opportunities. Google writers’ groups and choose some that appeal to explore. Some are free. Some cost. Some are a mix. I like The Word Cloud arrangement (See http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk )

A stage beyond this is critique groups run by publishing houses on the look-out for new talent. Check out:

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You start off with a carefully-garnered list of twelve agents. Then you send out your well-crafted book proposal. And then, your book proposal comes back.

Is this the end of the road?

Very few experienced writers would assume it is.

The agent may feel justified in rejecting your proposal because:

1)You misjudged the market  – for example, you have sent in a collection of colonial stories – reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling – when anti-imperialist views prevail in society as a whole.

2)You have misjudged the agent’s area of interest – you have sent the agent a book on military history when their main list (ie where they make their money and concentrate their efforts) contains romantic comedies.

3)Your prose style is poor. (ie you actually prefer wood-carving – or give that impression.)

4)Your plot is full of inconsistencies – Where was your mind when you were writing this? And have you made friends with your Inner Editor yet?

5)You haven’t got your MS polished and ready to go. (Well, really.)

These issues demonstrate a lack of professionalism. Remedies exist. (more…)

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Some publishers know authors only as Joe Bloggs c/o Alex, Swaddel & Binge, Literary Agents…So, if your favoured publisher – listed in the ranks of The Writers & Artists Yearbook or The Writers’ Handbook or Willing’s Press Guide – says ‘No unsolicited MSS’, yes, you do need an Authors’ agent.

(more…)

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Many things can cause an otherwise worthwhile writing project to founder.  Your writing coach will keep your project, your writing career and your writing ambitions safe.  Your writing coach can help you:

  1. Set clear goals and deadlines
  2. Organise your life as a writer
  3. Identify training needs in the genre of your choosing
  4. Organise your research
  5. Start writing and keep going to the end of the first draft
  6. Handle feed-back, edit and re-write
  7. Publish, broadcast or share in other ways

1. Set clear goals

Where do you hope to go with your writing project?  Following your nose can work.  But sometimes planning can help you arrive where you want to be more quickly and with better results.  So, some writers start work, bristling with diaries, ‘road maps’ and post-it notes – lending a writing project the air of a military offensive.  If you favour this style – and many do – your writing goals may benefit from the strong-minded application of management principles.  Your writing coach can guide you here.

The SMART formula is currently popular.  Adopt this and consider:

  1. Is your writing goal Specific?  (What form(s) of writing do you want to work on?  A novel?  A radio play?  An academic treatise?  The ultimate letter of complaint?)
  2. How will you Measure your success?  (Do you, for example, want to hold your published book in your hand by the second August Bank Holiday?)
  3. Are you Able to produce this piece of writing?  (Or do you need more training?)
  4. Does this piece of writing Relate well to who you are and what you want from your life?  (And does writing mesh well with your other hopes and aspirations at this time?)
  5. What is your Time-line for this goal?  (Deadlines work wonders for some.)

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