I always catch myself attaching significance to the first time I do something every year. This happens despite my best efforts, even though I remind myself over and over that it doesn't actually matter. Granted, I made sure the first thing I ate in 2016 was a piece of really good chocolate, but still.
As for the first IWSG of 2016, I figured I'd continue my attempts to start the year off right, and share a little advice. Some of this may be relevant to you, some of it surely will not. But it beats the hell out of another month of me complaining. :P I'll start with something I recently had to re-learn:
- Find a routine and stick with it. This routine might vary with different aspects of writing; what you do to get yourself into the right head-space for plotting might not be the same as your preparations for actual writing, and the routine itself might have variations for different books. But nothing works quite as well to help get things started as starting from a familiar place. And remember your routine - stick to it when you find one that works.
- Always be ready to scribble down notes. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have my best ideas when I'm not sitting here at my monolith of a desk. I always keep a notepad handy at my desk at work, and I've made great use of the notes function on my phone to make sure I never forget those character and story ideas that occur to me out of the blue.
- If someone sends you a rejection letter that says your work isn't right for them "at this time", do not reply to ask when the time will be that your work will be right for them, as you'll gladly re-send it then. I didn't do this, but I thought about it very hard.
- Remember that it's okay to take days off. Sometimes the words don't work, sometimes you've had too much shit to deal with and anything creative just isn't happening. That's fine. It happens to everyone. Take a deep breath, let it go, and get back to work tomorrow. (This might not be great advice if you're on deadline.)
- Sometimes you know all of how the story goes from the beginning, and sometimes you discover it along the way. But remember that every story changes in the telling. I've plotted and re-plotted and re-worked things so many times, and in the end, they're never exactly what I thought they would be when I started. This is fine. Don't force yourself to stick with an idea or plot or character that no longer works for the story just because that's what you started with.
- When sending the same query letter (plus synopsis and/or part of your story) to multiple agents in a short period of time, make very sure to change the agent's name to the correct one before sending it off. Check at the start, check before you send it, and before you click 'Send', check it again. While a kind agent might not reject you outright for putting the wrong name on a query, I wouldn't blame any who saw that and just said "Nope".
- Don't ever be afraid to be weird. There are dozens of books out there that can be summed up as the same sort of thing, so make sure that when you summarize yours, it sounds interesting and unusual. Whatever you're writing, make it uniquely yours, and give those ideas from the deeper parts of your mind a fair shake. A story with something new to offer is, I believe, always better than something too familiar.
- Finally: whatever you're working on, and however you work on it, finish it. Because once you know how it ends, once you know how everything happens and how it's changed from your original idea, then you can make the changes from the beginning and all the way through that will make the entire thing that much better.
That's all from me for now. Hope someone out there finds this useful, at least a little. ^_^ So, what advice do the rest of you have for the rest of us?