Hellooooo friends and followers! I am so pleased to announce that I have just finished writing my contribution for an ebook coming out at the end of this month! I'm not sure how much more info I can release yet, but I'm excited about the concept, the people I've been working with, and having my name in digi-print! This is a massive step for me in my career as it is the first time I'm contributing to an ebook! I am so thrilled and honored to be given this opportunity and I cannot wait to share all the juicy details with you!
Writing my chapter wasn't exactly easy. As much as I love writing and as well practiced as I may feel (thanks to this blog and other literary endeavors), I still get nervous whenever I write something. Especially when it's something like this that is going to be out there for all the world to see. Since this was a collaboration with lots of other writers and industry peeps, my words would be read over by a whole slew of strangers in addition to my ever-expanding network! Yikes! If I said I wasn't panicked I'd be lying. Lying hard.
I got through it somehow and came out on the other end not only feeling like a million bucks, but absolutely LOVING my piece. I just might frame it and put it up in my future office as a tribute to the time in my life when I took big risks and chased big dreams. This has been a magnificently empowering experience and has solidified my confidence in what I dare to do.
So for today's Industry Hump post I want to share with you three of the biggest lessons I learned during this process!
1. Start with a basic outline and flesh it out slowly. When I say 'basic outline' I mean SUPER basic. My first outline on this project had three lines: Intro; Body; Conclusion. And I think I stared at those three lines for a whole day without adding anything. Sure, I had a topic in my head and a short-and-sexy paragraph explaining what I wanted to write about... but it was the most generic description I had ever written. After a day of staring at three words on a mostly blank piece of paper I started adding subheadings and key topics of discussion. They were still pretty generic, but at least I was writing SOMETHING. Anything. I just couldn't stare at all that empty space anymore. Bit by bit, a concept started to come together. Lots of things were added, even more were taken out, and I started to form a picture on the page of what the flow of my piece was going to look like. Every day I would come back and flesh out each topic a little bit more until I suddenly reached a point where most of my piece was written in the form of paragraphs as bullet points... it just needed to be strung together and made to look pretty. It was one of those moments that I know my high school English teachers would have been SO PROUD of. Granted - I always make outlines, but there was something extra magical about the way that this piece just sort of came together. Maybe it was the mixing of equal parts passion, knowledge, and organization (three of my all time favorite things in this world). Whatever it was, I was literally watching my piece grow in front of my very eyes. What a spectacular feeling!
2. Don't be afraid to throw out a rough draft entirely. If something doesn't work, it doesn't work. There is no rule that says you have to maintain the integrity of your first draft by keeping bits of it right through the end. When I wrote my first draft of this piece I sat down to read it after a good night's sleep and I suddenly hated it. I hated the whole thing. So I chucked it right out the window (OK, maybe not literally) and went back to my outline to rehash the language. Sometimes when you try and force the words out, the whole feel of a piece can get twisted. Sometimes it really is just better to scrap the whole thing and start fresh. When I spend too much time trying to get the concepts and topics locked down and then jump straight into writing the first draft, my brain gets overwhelmed and my writing visibly suffers. Don't forget, it's called a first draft for a reason!
3. Read your writing out loud to anyone who will listen. When you stare at your piece for too long, it's easy to get lost, confused, irritated, or fuzzy. Reading the same piece over and over doesn't mean you're going to stay on topic or catch all the errors or sound coherent. The only way to make sure that you are producing quality work is to read it out loud and listen to how the piece sounds. You have to remember that what you hear in your head isn't necessarily what the reader is going to hear in his/her head. Read the piece out loud in your own voice to your parents, your friends, your dog, a stranger on the bus, your colleagues, ANYONE! Not only will you get feedback from them (hopefully all constructive) but you will also get a chance to ensure that you love your words. If the flow doesn't seem right to you, or you are tripping over your words, or you feel as though you are rambling... this is your chance to catch those little things and fix them! Remember that your name is going on this piece and you should want it to be an accurate representation of your opinions AND your voice. If you don't like the way it sounds in your own voice, how can you expect the whole world to love it?
So. Those are my three tips for your next writing project.
What are some of your juicy insider tips? Want to read me your next piece? Looking for someone to talk shop with? Drop it all in the comments below!
Glowing from writing endorphins, xx Nikbear