New Feature—Writer Wednesday!

Weekly Features, Writer Wednesday

Oasis for YA

Writer Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Oasis for YA, and features topics for writers! Please post your own WWs in the comments!

This week’s post is courtesy of YA Outside the Lines. You can read the original post here.

Fake it until you make it – April Henry’s
tips for success

I’ve been
writing full time for over three years now. Before you get too jealous, know
that I spent the 18 years before that working in a cubicle (or for a few heady
years, a shared office).  Nine of those years I was publishing books – and still
working and raising a kid and (sort-of) exercising and (often Trader Joes)
cooking dinner.

Over time, I’ve become a better writer.  Here’s what I’ve
learned:

Butt in chair.
I used to think that writing was a matter of inspiration. And that if you
weren’t inspired, it wasn’t going to be very good. But if you wait to write
until you are inspired, you might be waiting a long time. Here’s a little secret
I’ve discovered: You can always edit crap. You can’t edit
nothing.

Keep reading craft books. In the past year, I’ve
read at least a dozen. I put them on hold at the library two or three at a time.
I’m far enough along now that I know if they don’t speak to me. I recently
read Techniques of the Selling Writer, an older book (you can tell it’s
older, because the author is Dwight V. Swain – when was the last time a kid was
named Dwight?), and it was so useful! I found myself taking tons of notes on
scenes and sequels.

Have a cheat book. This is especially true if
you are writing for a living. You probably already have a book or two under
contract. But you should have a book you are sneaking off to write every now and
then. A book you are having an affair with. A book you are writing just for you!
(Which may later end up being shared with the world).

Push
yourself
. Force yourself to work on a scene you don’t want to for 15 minutes
– after five or ten minutes you might strike gold. Or use any of the exercises
in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (you don’t have to have read the
companion book for it to be useful). One I like goes something like this:  “What
is one thing your character would never, ever say? What is one thing your
character would never, ever think? What is one thing your character would never,
ever do? Find places in your manuscript where your character says, thinks and
does these things.”

Make friends with
other writers.
Writing is a lonely business. Online friends are great. Real
life friends can be even better. I’ve been to many conferences or meetings where
I felt lost and knew no one. You know what? When I took a chance and started
talking to the other people there, I discovered they often felt the same way.
I’ve written congratulatory notes to writers I’ve never met. Reach out! The
worst thing that can happen is that they won’t respond.

Reading is
also part of your job.
Don’t feel guilty about reading. I tended to put it
off, thinking it was a “treat” that I only deserved if I had crossed everything
off my to-do list. But then I read something from Amy Kathleen Ryan where she
said that she considered reading part of her job. That changed my
attitude.

Get Freedom, a program that cuts you off the Internet
for the amount of time you set. You might think you are an adult and that you
are able to control your own behavior.  You are wrong. It costs 10 bucks, but it
is definitely worth it.

These are the things that lead to great writing days for me.
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