Writing, Editing, and Publishing Advice

WRITING, EDITING, AND PUBLISHING ADVICE

If you follow me on any form of social media, you know that I love writing, dogs, books, education, and social justice. I’m always posting about what I am currently working on: whether it be a blog post, a poem, an essay, a short story, or even a draft of a book for #NaNoWriMo.

When I asked if my followers on Twitters were interested in advice about writing, publishing, and editing, the answer was an unanimous yes.

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So, in this blog post I will attempt to share my favorite advice and share what I have learned thus far. I do not by any means believe that my advice is the only advice that counts or is the advice that is right for everyone, but I do have some experience and hopeful helpful tid-bits to share.

WRITING

Here are some quotes about writing which have been helpful to me:

“WRITE LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER.” – CHERYL STRAYED.

“THIRTY YEARS AGO MY OLDER BROTHER, WHO WAS TEN YEARS OLD AT THE TIME, WAS TRYING TO GET A REPORT WRITTEN ON BIRDS THAT HE’D HAD THREE MONTHS TO WRITE, WHICH WAS DUE THE NEXT DAY. WE WERE OUT AT OUR FAMILY CABIN IN BOLINAS, AND HE WAS AT THE KITCHEN TABLE CLOSE TO TEARS, SURROUNDED BY BINDER PAPER AND PENCILS AND UNOPENED BOOKS ABOUT BIRDS, IMMOBILIZED BY THE HUGENESS OF THE TASK AHEAD. THEN MY FATHER SAT DOWN BESIDE HIM PUT HIS ARM AROUND MY BROTHER’S SHOULDER, AND SAID, “BIRD BY BIRD, BUDDY. JUST TAKE IT BIRD BY BIRD.” ― ANNE LAMOTT, BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE

“WRITING IS REWRITING.”

Here are some pieces of advice that I have to give you:

  • Don’t overthink it. Pull out a piece of paper and write whatever is in your head, even if it’s I don’t know what to write or I could write about x. Even with your worst writing, you can do something with it during revision. You can’t really do much with a blank page/document.
  • Show up. At least 70% of writing is showing up. Talent can help, but it’s not everything. Carve out some time in your day to write, whether it be a few hours in the morning or evening, or even 15 minute sessions throughout the day. You’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish when you decide to make writing a priority.
  • Write some crap. I think this one is self-explanatory. Write some crap and make it better. If you can’t make it better, save it to your computer and move on to something else.
  • Struggle. Sometimes writing sucks, but usually when you keep a going, it gets better. Once you finish your project, you’ll be proud of the blood, sweat, tears, and coffee  that it took to get you there.
  • Save your writing. You’ll be surprised, maybe even amazed by how much your writing will improve over time.
  • Try different genres. Many people stick with one genre because it’s what they’re good at, which is totally cool, but allowing yourself to write in other genres is so helpful. For instance, poetic devices can help strengthen a fictional piece and strategies used in fiction writing can help strengthen your creative non-fiction pieces. In other words, GO FOR IT!
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Didn’t write today? Didn’t meet your word count goal? Haven’t written for weeks, months, or years? That’s okay. You don’t have to write every single day to be a writer. The desire to get back to writing eventually is enough. You are a writer.

EDITING

I don’t know a ton about editing, but I know some. Here are some tips.

Taking a linguistics class or some grammar can help. Knowing sentence structure and the basic grammatical rules of English can help you immensely.

Learn how to write concisely. This will save you. Nothing bogs down writing like superfluous sentences or paragraphs.

Find organizations that will allow you to copy-edit or give feedback. My experience at the Ball State Daily News as a copy editor and assistant copy editor helped me develop an interest in editing. My experience as a writer for StudyBreaks magazine helped me as well, when I gave feedback to my fellow writers.

Freelance. Many people are looking for editors to give an extra set of eyes and their feedback. You can gain experience and possibly some cash from this.

I have only been editing for about a year, so I don’t know everything, but these tips have been helpful as I’ve been starting out.

PUBLISHING

Get prepared to be rejected. While J.K. Rowling was only rejected 12 times (she got lucky), some writers have been rejected 200+ times before finally landing a book deal / getting published.

Don’t take it personally. Sometimes an editor just isn’t going to like your work. It may not fit well with their company or their journal. This doesn’t mean that they hate you or that your work isn’t any good.

Keep Trying. The best writers are the ones who refuse to give up. They learn to believe in their work no matter what anyone else is saying or not saying.

Self-publish. While many would advise against it, some writers self-publish and end up becoming very successful. For example, Amanda Lovelace and Rupi Kaur self-published. Later, their books were picked up by Andrew McMeel publishing. You can’t go to Target without seeing their books. Another example is Jennae Cecelia. She self-published 4 poetry books. They are best sellers on Amazon and she is actually quitting her day job to pursue writing full time. Another example is Sophia Hanson who self-published her Vinyl trilogy as well as her first poetry book hummingbird.

Offer to help literary journals and/or magazines. Literary journals and magazines are often looking for help. No matter how large or small the role, it can help you find your place in the publishing industry.

Start your own literary journal and/or magazine. Recently, I started my own literary and art magazine, Brave Voices Magazine. I am overwhelmed by the positive feedback and support it received. Starting this project was something I never imagined myself doing, but I am so glad that I did.

INTERNSHIPS, JOBS, ETC

If you are looking for an internship or a job, you totally can and should.

Try working remotely. Remote writing work is available for just about anyone, regardless of experience. If you are a student, I suggest searching for remote writing internships. If you have some experience, just look up remote + writing.

Freelance. Like previously mentioned, this can give you experience and some extra cash. You get to choose your own prices and work whenever you want.

Think outside of the box. When you see a job description and think “I couldn’t possibly be qualified for this position,” rethink that. You might just be the candidate that they are looking for.

If you liked this advice, comment or share! I hope this post helped you or at least inspired you. If you want writing or books to literally be your life, you can (and maybe will) make it happen. 

Audrey Bowers