Monday, July 8, 2013

The Oreo Effect: Is There a Way to Speed up the Publishing Process?

When I tell fellow writers that it took me 8 long years of daily writing before I published for the first time, many can't believe it. Others, on their own long journey to that first publishing gig, just smile.

They understand.

A writer must be aware of and know how to pen various writing nuances. For example, a writer must know how to write believable characters. Out of their mouths must come natural sounding dialogue in a setting that appears real, even if it's on some faraway planet. A writer must know about plot, what makes fine plot, and what doesn't, where to get ideas and how to keep writing even when they don't feel like it.

Is there a way to speed things up?

One of the best ways to know how you're doing today is to have a fellow writer, an avid reader (not in your family) or a writing mentor that can show you what you're doing right and what you need to work on. The more feedback you receive, especially early on, the more likely you'll be to speed up the process to publication because you will quickly weed out what simply doesn't work.

Another good way to speed up the publishing process is to write every day. Interspersed with writing comes reading writing books and attending conferences to learn new skills, but even then, writing every day for at least an hour a day will do wonders that listening to a great speaker will never do.

Photo by: mihoda, courtesy of Flickr
Taking criticism is only good if it's valid criticism; criticism that helps you instead of hurting you. If you find that criticism only tends to keep you from writing, take on another reader; someone who can show you what they like about your work. Someone who can also talk to you about the problem areas without making you want to storm out of the room.

I call this the Oreo Effect.

An Oreo has two black chocolate cookie sides that keep safe the inside white stuff. Without the cookie sides, the white fluff is open to the world. The white stuff is the struggles you have with writing. The black chocolate is the positive stuff that keeps you grounded. If someone who reads your work can start out with a positive, something that you do naturally such as great dialogue or perfect setting, then it's far easier to take in the white problem such as poor sentence construction or a flawed plot. Ending the conversation with something else positive, helps the writer to go on.

Now, I realize you're probably the writer and not the reader reading this post, so you might want to pass the Oreo Effect on to someone you trust.

This trusted someone can share with you what's working, what isn't, and end the conversation with a positive so that you can move forward.

The first story I wrote was terrible, but I didn't know that. I gave copies of the story to my relatives who gratefully placed it on their bookshelves. I only learned later that they thought my work was pretty bad. But no one told me. As I continued, I got some feedback from others. I joined a writer's group and this really helped me to hone my craft. I listened, sometimes, to the feedback, sometimes not. But the greatest thing I ever did for myself was to continue writing, even when the criticism was great and I thought I'd never be a good writer.

I didn't often get the Oreo Effect, but when I did, it make all the difference.

Sure, it took me 8 years. But the publishing process could have taken me much longer if I hadn't learned that writing every day, learning all I could about writing, and taking heed to much of the criticism I received, would get me a sale less than 10 years after I'd first begun.

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