Any writer – any person – can tell you that sometimes you get so busy in life that you are FORCED to place things on the figurative “back burner.” It’s common. It happens to the best of us. The thing that gets me through it sometimes is that cool kids like Beyonce and Sergei Polunin probablyyyyy have to back burner the hell out of things sometimes too.
Y’all. I love me some Ellen. Her and Portia are, like, in my top 3 OTPs. Anyway, this quotes is about balance. This post is late. I meant to get it up by Friday, but life really got in the way and I haven’t been balancing all the aspects of my life very well. And that includes my writing. I truly believe you have to have balance in order to be successful as a writer.
This post is no suggestion. It is instead a cautionary tale. I haven’t been balancing my life as a more-than-full-time worker with my life as a writer and because of that, my writing is suffering.
Basically, Candice does not time manage very well. Do you have any tips to help a girl out here?
xo from this girl under the trench coat,
Critique partners. You can’t get through the writing journey without one or two. Maybe you can, but I’d highly advise against it. Finding a great CP is a lot like dating. There’s the excitement of possibilities, the searching, the awkward first “dates”, and the one.
I went through several CPs before I finally found Candice. Some didn’t make it past the first email, some dumped me, I dumped some, others lasted a little while before we went our separate ways. There are lots of places you can look for a CP, but we’re not discussing that today. We’re going to talk about what to look for and how to be a great one.
What to look for
1. Someone whose writing style you enjoy. You are going to be reading that person’s writing for a looooong time. Make sure it’s something you want to read.
2. Find someone who loves your writing as much or more than you do. The writing game is a hard one. Sometimes you need a little kick in the pants to keep going. We’ve all gotten to that point where we feel our writing is the worst thing ever, no one will ever want to read it, we aren’t at all creative, etc., etc. It’s nice to have someone tell you they miss your MC and ask when they get to hear more.
3. A critique style you enjoy. A lot of times I would send one of my original drafts of a chapter to a potential CP, just to see how’d they critique it. I knew what needed to be fixed, where things didn’t make sense, and I knew there was a lot of it. I wanted to be sure that they wouldn’t be afraid to point it out and that I liked the suggestions they offered.
*Remember you don’t have to do everything they suggest. You know you’re story the best.
**Look at that, I made a rhyme!
How to be a great CP
1. Be honest. If something feels off to you, let them know. They may have decided half through the story to change Ricky’s name to Mickey and forgot to fix their change in a few spots. Or maybe the plot is lining up. Whatever it is, let them know.
2. Praise! Just as important as pointing out the bad is highlighting the good. Let them know if a scene made you laugh, if the LI sounds dreamy, or if their description of the ice cream sundae had you craving Cold Stone.
3. Try not to get butt-hurt. Occasionally, just like in any relationship, you and your beloved CP are going to have disagreements on each other’s stories. Let them slide. You know your story best, and they know theirs. On the other hand, if you have a couple people say the same thing on a section that you’re adamant about, maybe it is time to take another look at it.
You may decide to be strictly business with your CP and discuss only writing related things, but more thank likely, you’ll find a great friend. Candice and I text weekly about life and writing. I let her know when my son got a toy stuck up his nose and she made sure to check in and see how he was doing the next day.*
What do you look for in a critique partner?
If you believe anything about me it should probably be the lack of plotting that happens with each of my novels. Plotting = prepping. Plotting = planning. And a prepping planner, I am not. By nature, I’m actually a huge procrastinator. That works for me (kinda sorta mostly-ish). Not sure what works for you? We’d like to give you some suggestions to try.
1. Fly by the seat of your knickers
Hi, my name is Candice and I am a procrastinator. So this scene-by-scene, pay-as-you-go, figure-it-out-when-you-get-there method is my jam. I wrote all of WHERE WORDS FAIL that way and all of my two other completed novels that way as well. Mostly I knew what reactions I wanted, but not how I was going to get there. When words hit the page, they either felt right or they didn’t.
2. Missionary (yes, this is a sex joke—sorry)
This is your standard outline process. The one everyone’s doing. The one you learned in grade school. Whether you’re using roman numerals, numbers, uppercase/lowercase alphabet, or some combination of them all, the facts are all the same. It’s a step-by-step process for formulating your beginning, middle and end. It’s worth mentioning that there’s nothing wrong with Missionary—not when it comes to getting physical and certainly not when it comes to plotting your book.
3. Gap-fill (IT’S PAINFUL JUST LIKE THE DENTIST)
I’m almost certain Diana plots this way—She writes a few key scenes, maybe the beginning and end, then fills in the holes. And for this: please stand up and applaud her like whoa. Because this is no easy feat. Still, if it works for you, have at it. If you know what your ending looks like but not your middle or end, great. Write that and fill in those gaps with play-dough, silly putty, jell-o pudding or anything else you’ve got on hand.
4. Y = mx +b
Yes, that is a math formula. FOR SHAME. We of the wordy persuasion know not this black art of numbers—or something! Basically we all hate math and I’m sorry. But, for this example, sometimes a formula helps. Standard romance formulas SOMETIMES look something like: LI #1 is introduced, LI#2 is introduced, LI’s 1 and 2 fall in L-U-V, LI’s 1 and 2 angst uber hard and quit the L-U-V-I-N (conflict), HEA (resolution). Your plotting doesn’t even have to be anymore detailed than that. As long as you get there, to the end of your novel.
5. Pants that sucker!
xo from this girl under the trench coat!
For so long I was really secretive about the kind of stuff that I write. Online, I’m super open about it. You can find me on Twitter all day talking up a storm about that awesome near-miss-kiss I just wrote. But IRL? I’m still working on it. You could say my IRL writer friends are an exact replica of the @GuyInYourMFA Twitter account. So that’s the criticism I deal with at every meet-up and hangout.
But now, I’ve resolved to be proud of what I’m writing. Show people what NA Contemp Rom REALLY is. I write romance and I read romance and I love love in all its guises. I want people to know what kind of writer I am. This isn’t necessarily a resolution—let’s call it a lifestyle alteration.
xo from this girl under the trench coat!
Technology, thou art a… freakin’ huge life saver! If something similar to the show Revolution ever happened, I’d be screwed. Yes, I can put the techno gadgets away for date night or a fun evening with the kids. I even get annoyed with my husband and son on occasion for how much they’re on their video game consoles. (In case he reads this, I gotta add that my hubby does turn his off when I ask politely though. Or take off my clothes.)
When it comes to writing though, I need my gadgets and gizmos a-plenty. (Any fans of The Little Mermaid out there?) Aside from my trusty laptop, my phone is my must have tool. It goes everywhere with me. EVERYWHERE. I’m not always on it. You may not always see it. But know that it is somewhere within an arm’s reach. I use it to make calls (duh!), text (another duh, but the best way to reach me), to look up facts to prove my husband wrong, and to research and record writerly stuff. Here are some of my (and Candice’s) favorite apps.
I love this app because I can create separate files for each book to jot down ideas that come to me at random times. I’m amazed at how often I get eureka! ideas while I’m washing the dishes or I’m at the store. You can do a voice recording, take a pic, as well as old-fashioned typing it in. You can even set alarms or share notes and notebooks in work chat so you and a buddy can bounce ideas around that way.
This is a kind of fun one. You adjust the settings to how many words a day you want to write and how many days you’re allowed to slack off. Each day you enter the amount of words you wrote and it adds a chain. If you go too many days without writing the amount you assigned yourself, your chain is taken away and you have to start over.
This is probably my most used app. I love Pinterest. You can tell that if you go to my Pinterest page. I won’t tell you how many secret boards I have. This is a great one for inspiration. Pics, quotes, resources, it’s all here and you can organize it how you want.
A good writer is a good reader, am I right? You can keep plenty of books at your fingertips with these apps.
An excellent app for finding more books by your favorite author, figuring out which order the books in a series are, and discovering new reads. Don’t forget to leave reviews of your favorite or not so favorite books.
[dik-shuh-ner-ee] Dictionary.com )
Need I say more? *definition and pronunciation taken from dictionary.com
Another fun one. Trying to get your lover boy MC to speak sexy talk in French but all you know is “bonjour”? Take this one for a spin and see what creative sweet nothings you come up with.
How many of your stories take place where you’re located? One of the reasons I love to write is I can “travel” to places I’ve never been. A maps app is a great one to have on hand so you can get the lay of the land.
Keep connected to your writing peeps with your fav social media. Why wait to get home when you can check it while waiting in line at the pharmacy? Personally, I prefer using my phone to check social media anyway.
*BONUS! 10. Kid Friendly Games
If you have little ones, keep a few fun games on there so you can hand them the phone and get in some writing time.
There you have it. Some of our favorite apps. Which apps are on your phone?
Here’s a bit more about Trench Coats & Quotes, what we hope to achieve and why we chose such a mouthful as our blog name.