I’m working on my second book. In fact, I’ve been plugging away at it for about two weeks now. It’s coming along.
A few aspiring authors have reached out to me to inquire about my writing process. Rather than answer each of those, I thought it might be nice to share my method here in my weekly Soul Proprietor posts since many members of my posse seem to write for their work in one way or another.
Here’s what I do:
- It begins with setting a goal. In the case of my first book, The Tarot Coloring Book, that goal was set for me when my publisher gave me a deadline and a word count. With my second book, I set my own goal of 70,000 words done by the end of summer.
- Once I have a goal, the next mission: chunk it out to make it less intimidating. For my new book, I’m doing 1000 words a day for 70 days. It’s not as hard as it sounds!
- Then, I create a schedule to make sure this happens. I normally do my writing in the morning but since I have a full summer schedule of book touring, clients, and other responsibilities, I have to schedule in the time to write at various times of the day. But it’s on the schedule. Because when I schedule anything, it gets done at The Tarot Lady Hub.
- I pour a big glass of tea, turn off my distractions, and type until the day’s goal has been met. No excuses. Even if I don’t feel well, am tired, have a cat nipping at my heels, that writing gets done.
- The first draft is just that. I write freely and let it spill out all over the paper. In a way, I channel my writing. I don’t go back and edit. The first draft isn’t meant to be perfect.
- Once the goal has been reached, it’s time to edit. I go back and meticulously edit the work. A lot gets scrapped and rearranged and redone. It’s all good. Although I’m a perfectionist at heart, I know that it won’t always be perfect, no matter how hard I edit. I cut myself some slack for being human…and not Stephen King.
- After I’ve edited, it goes to my editor, Megan Lang. She has an MFA in creative writing and is a major word nerd. She’s also the punctuation goddess who corrects my “comma problem.” Megan is my write-hand woman and the one person I trust the most when it comes to editing. (Psst she’s also hilarious and her services are reasonably priced. Oh, and she’s my kid.)
- For my previous book, I also had my writing mentor look it over to make sure it flowed well. I highly recommend having a few eyes look at your work before sending it off to your publisher.
- It’s back in my hands for a final edit – then off to the publisher for them to work their magics. And yes, your publisher will most likely edit the hell out of it…again. If you are working with a publisher, it’s important to be open to their suggestions. Take nothing personally. Remember: they are in the business of making books great. My publisher for The Tarot Coloring Book, Sounds True, was absolutely amazing.
What about for my blog posts, you ask?
I’m a voracious blogger with about four posts a week at this moment. Here’s how I make that happen:
- I keep a running list of ideas. This way, I never run out of stuff to write about.
- I have blocks of time on my calendar specifically devoted to blogging. Just like above, when those times are on the clock, I’m sitting and writing – all distractions off. There is often a cat on my lap when I blog (at the moment, Monkey is making himself right at home). Some days I am lucky enough to have large blocks to write. On those days, I batch and get a bunch of posts ready to roll. (Melissa Cassera has an excellent post on batching.)
- First drafts are usually messy as can be. I go back and clean ‘em up then post.
- Sometimes, I discover a typo later on. If that happens, no biggie. I just go in and fix it. Don’t get bent out of shape if you find a mistake on your posts. It’s really not the end of the world.
Tips for writing:
- Take writing and blogging classes when you can. I’ve taken classes from The Blogcademy, Alexandra Franzen, Pamela Des Barres, and more. Both online and offline will help you up your game and gain more confidence.
- Have a good editor on your rolodex if you have challenges with punctuation and grammar. Or commas. Ha ha!
- Read. A lot. The more you read, the better your own writing.
- Get inspiration from things outside your own industry. This allows you to remain fresh and innovative. Although I love reading the work of my peers such as Little Red Tarot and Briana Saussy, I do my best to make sure my work is mine. I stay on my own grind by focusing more of my attention on other non-tarot things that light me up: hip hop music, cooking, Game of Thrones, and fashion mags. Do the same and you won’t ever be a carbon copy of anyone else – nor will you ever run out of ideas!
- That being said, if you feel called to write about something in your industry, don’t worry that “it’s been done before.” It may have been done but not in your voice! Write from your perspective. As long as it’s in your own words, it’s all good for more than one point of view to be out there!
- Feel free to riff about things that are outside your industry too. I write about tarot topics but I also write about business, aging, addiction, parenting, and everything under the sun that interests me. Do that too and you’re showing your range and your personality. You’re giving people a chance to get to know you.
- Don’t worry about the haters. Mark my words, there will be people who don’t like your work…or you. They will do what they can to try to bring you down and bum your trip out. You’re going to have to learn to ignore the critics and naysayers. Repeat after me: you’re not writing for them. If someone feels called to slam your work, you are under no obligation to respond nor should you allow their opinions to hang out in your head. Learn to shut that noise out and remain focused on your work. instead. You don’t have time for those types. I often find that people who seem to be busy cutting other people down are not busy doing what they need to succeed. (PS mute and delete buttons are awesome! Use them without a second thought if anyone gets rude.)
- Be vulnerable. Which means: be you. Put yourself out there. No hiding, please.
- Lastly, promote the heck out of your blog!
That’s it in a nutshell.
I’m off to get in another 1000 words…may your words flow too. Keep writing, people.
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2017