Writer in Motion Week 0: My Writing Process and Outline

I jumped around several plots and genres when trying to come up with a first draft. A post-apocalyptic world in which survivors are trying to make their way to a distant safe house. A sci-fi fantasy in which special secret agents are sent to apprehend a dangerous individual hiding out. A contemporary story in which the MC reflects on their childhood and coming home after a long estrangement. The MC following instructions to some remote cabin to fulfill the dying wish of somebody close to them. A roadtrip. A bedtime story. Digging up a time capsule.

The thing is, I’m great at coming up with ideas. I have half a dozen floating through my mind at any moment. Some I know I’ll never get to I’ve added to the Plot Exchange (please feel free to use or leave your own plots) for other writers. However I have three basic requirements before I actually begin writing:

  1. It has to Have an Ending

One thing I’ve learned about my writing process over the years is that it’s very similar to taking a road trip. Before I get into my car I have to know where I’m going, and use a GPS to get me there. My bags are packed with whatever I might need, and while pit stops are allowed, I will try my best to stick with the best route available. For writing, I need an end goal to work towards, a rough outline, and resources such as research and background on the world and characters to help me meet the goal. I’m free to come up with random bits of character insight or side plots along the way, as long as it helps me reach the ending.

All those ideas listed at the beginning? Not an ending among them. The one I ended up choosing? Had the ending and the rest of the story fell into place.

2. It has to Have a Message/Theme Setting it Apart

Sometimes my story ideas can be very similar to one another. So I ask myself, what makes this one unique? What point am I hoping to accomplish or convey to readers? What lesson could be learned by it? Is there some overarching theme tying everything together?

Usually in the process of answering those questions, I’ll get my lightbulb moment, the instant where everything clicks, the story falls into place, and I have my motivation for writing it down. My moment for this one which cemented it as THE IDEA was one word: fireflies.

3. It has to Have Heart

Whether they’re heroes or villains I have to connect and be able to care about the characters and the story. If I don’t care, how can I expect readers to care about what happens to them, and share in their joys and sorrows? Giving characters heart changes them from shapeless bland blobs to actual people I can be emotionally invested in. It helps me with understanding how they think, their motivations, and desires. Giving the story heart transforms mere words on a page (or screen) to something relatable, that sticks with myself and readers.

I give the characters and story heart by incorporating some bit of myself or somebody I closely know. It can be a personality type, strange quirk, personal experience that shaped me, a hope or dream, and even a fear or obstacle that had to be overcome. It can be one tiny detail, several, or a huge part of my life.

In this case, the heart comes from the times when I was right on the cusp of full adulthood. Afraid of what was to come, of losing touch with my childhood friends, and trying my best to cling tightly onto my childhood one last time.

And that wraps up the brief insight into the beginning of my writing process. Below is the result, my rough outline which includes placeholders and and notes. Expect the first draft in the next few days.

Outline:

Two MCs are traveling in car, arguing over directions. “You don’t know where you’re going. Want me to use Google?” “Relax, it’s fine.” “But–” “Like I said fine. There’s the turn.” “What turn? All I see is a tree.” “It’s behind the tree.” “Behind the tree, how can it be behind– oh, it’s behind the tree.”

Car turns off onto gravel dusty road, loud, will need a wash later on. Wild turkey crosses path. Flying up and down the hills, one mentions speed, but other is unconcerned. MC1 is super obsessive (passenger) and has packed several bags of stuff, MC2 carries. Along the way they discuss plans for fall, reminiscence about old days, childhood and memories at cabin. Reveals it’s been years since last visit.

Finally reach top of hill and discovers nothing. MC1 freaks out, it has to be here. MC2 finds signs but reveals it’s long gone, was more like a crumbling shack back in the day, not surprised it’s not around. Cabin belongs to MC2’s family and they built a new one, and MC1 didn’t realize that meant tearing down the old one. MC1 splutters, this isn’t right, we were supposed to do XYZ. MC2 insists everything is fine (sidenote: I use that word a lot) and it doesn’t have to be the same. MC1 is still bothered, and MC2 asks what’s wrong. MC1 reveals worry over losing touch once the summer ends, going separate ways with college, barely spending any time together like they used to, afraid they’re going to drift away forever and just wanted one last night like when they were kids.

MC2 admits same fears, but reassures MC1. Things will change, everything changes, but change can be good. Like now, without parents or siblings can do stuff on their own. Make promise no matter how crazy things may get, will set aside one weekend each summer to catch up at cabin or somewhere else. They never really liked the outdoors anyway, could go to a beach or the city. MC1 is relieved, and ends on hopeful note.

Notes:

FIREFLIES! Work in catching fireflies in jar as children to capturing memories and moments, but MC2 points out they always released them otherwise they’d die, but they’d always be back the next year. Could work as title. The Firefly’s Journey. Like Fireflies. Summer Fireflies. Pinpricks of Light. Pinpricks of Magic. Summer Magic. Capturing Magic. Releasing Magic. The Magic Jar. Flickering Summer Magic. Fleeting Summer Magic. Those Summer Nights. Summertime Magic. Magical Days of Summer.

Names for characters: Rachel (call Ray and Luce for short, ray of light names)

Final thoughts: MCs still need physical descriptions. Can I get this under 1,000 words? First draft I’ll try not to worry about wordcount and address in self-edit.

Next: First Draft

All Writer in Motion posts:

All Writer in Motion posts:

Writer in Motion Post #1: Initial Thoughts on Prompt Reveal

Writer in Motion Post #2: Insight to Writing Process and Outline

Writer in Motion Post #3: First Draft

Writer in Motion Post #4: Self-Edit

Writer in Motion Post #5: CP Edit

Writer in Motion Post #6: Editor Feedback and Final Version

Writer in Motion Post #7: Final Thoughts

Writer In Motion Prompt Reveal

brown concrete house on green grass field near mountain during daytime
Writer in Motion Prompt August 2020, available here: https://unsplash.com/photos/CDrP01O2n-w

The Writer in Motion prompt was just revealed ten minutes ago (as I’m writing this) and I wanted to jot down my initial thoughts and ideas before I start working on the first draft which is due August 8th.

Initial thoughts:

An unexpected find in the middle of nowhere. It’s uphill, almost like somebody has been walking for a while to finally see their destination or a complete surprise. They’re not alone out here.

Who does it belong to? Is it abandoned? Occupied? A house or some kind of other structure? Is it truly that tiny or are there hidden depths and floors? Where does the electricity come from? What’s behind it? More wilderness or a city nestled in a valley in between?

So far my ideas are revolving on a more literal interpretation of the prompt. Maybe the character has been on a long journey to the location, or encounters an unknown obstacle. Or maybe relieved to come home after a long day of work. Or perhaps returning to a place they’ve tried to forget, and are hesitant on entering.

Several ideas that I get to work through the next few days and see where they take me. What characters and story they inspire, and if I can develop a good story under 1,000 words.

Those are my initial thoughts for now. For more information on Writer in Motion please check out their site: https://writerinmotion.com/2020/08/01/writer-in-motion-kickoff-the-prompt/

All Writer in Motion posts:

Writer in Motion Post #1: Initial Thoughts on Prompt Reveal

Writer in Motion Post #2: Insight to Writing Process and Outline

Writer in Motion Post #3: First Draft

Writer in Motion Post #4: Self-Edit

Writer in Motion Post #5: CP Edit

Writer in Motion Post #6: Editor Feedback and Final Version

Writer in Motion Post #7: Final Thoughts

Take Two

So… it’s been a while. Not that anybody probably noticed other than spammers. And not just a little while, but a full year in which I haven’t posted anything. Part of which was due to studying for several professional exams, followed by the holidays, and then a family vacation and wedding. Just when I was finally getting ready to back to this blog, COVID-19 struck.

Up until March, COVID seemed like a far away thing. Sure I was aware of it when I flew in February, but it was confined to incoming travelers from Europe and other places so I wasn’t too concerned. Then March came in and things got crazy.

As stay at home and quarantine orders started to roll out, I remember going to the store and waiting 20 minutes in line to check out as people were stocking up on food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes, and more. The atmosphere reminded me of a bad winter storm approaching and everybody panicking and trying to stock up on supplies. It was eerie, and will stick with me. On St. Patrick’s Day, I was sent to work from home and have been doing so ever since.

The weeks that followed I didn’t have much interest or passion for writing. I was still on edge and nervous. Every time I coughed I wondered if it was a symptom of something else. Every time I heard new numbers on the news, I thought of my dad who has to take medication to live, but lowers his immune system, putting him at risk. I even started trying to cut back my snacking just in case there was a food shortage.

Then George Floyd was killed and Black Lives Matter exploded and all I could do was watch as history continued to unfold. My WIP seemed so insignificant to the world around me. Make no mistake, 2020 will go down in history as a year of change and be studied and analyzed for decades to come.

In the meantime I worked on creating a craft/sewing space in a spare bedroom, got addicted to Animal Crossing New Horizons, and started on my Master’s. Gradually I adjusted to the new normal and got my writing groove back. I joined Camp RevPit (go hedgehogs!) and got an editor spot for Writer In Motion. I also started the Plot Exchange which is a Google spreadsheet full of plot ideas for writers and has a form allowing writers to submit any plots they don’t have the background, time, etc. to write.

For the remainder of this year, I want this blog to focus on three areas important to me: writing, engineering, and sewing/quilting. Each one has a different goal:

Writing: Gear up and complete Writer In Motion.

Engineering: Post PE studying guide.

Sewing/Quilting: Blog as I make my mom’s quilt Christmas present.

And finish editing my WIP so I can move onto betas and writing contests in the spring. That’s it for now. May the remaining months of 2020 be better than the rest, and stay safe.

Kay S. Beckett

One Year Anniversary

I’ve had this blog for officially a year now, and while I haven’t always been the best at updating it like I wanted, I have learned quite a bit about writing and myself since I first started it. Some are lessons I want to share with others so they can learn my own mistakes and experiences.

  1. Don’t Force Topics

My original plan was to have a topic a month on the blog and write a few articles. It worked for a while too, until this year. Between life throwing me curveballs, and not having as much free time as I once did, I stopped posting for a while. Which is fine, because I was starting to force myself to write certain topics rather than let them come naturally.

There are plenty of other booktubers and bloggers out there who post content a few times a week which is great for them. I’ve come to realize I do not have the time to support such a schedule. If I did, I’d be posting material that’s already been done better elsewhere, or that I have no experience on as I’m barely into my writing journey.

If you’re going to start posting your own content, or already do, keep this in mind. Don’t post content about navigating the publishing industry when you haven’t even written your first query. Same goes for posting content that’s been done before a hundred times—unless you have a new and interesting take on it. Otherwise you run the risk of burning yourself out, or alienating the audience you’re trying to reach.

2. It’s Okay to Shelve a Project

I’ve done this before, but they were usually projects that were only partially completed that I lost the plot on, or desire to finish. This year was the first time I shelved a project that was completed, had been edited several times, and I was planning on querying. After a few beta reads I realized that there problems that needed to be fixed, and thought I had the perfect solution—one that required a lot of rewriting.

It worked for a bit, but then I hit a wall. I kept re-editing the same chapters over and over, and wasn’t making much progress. A lot of days I’d stare blankly at the document if I even bothered to open it.

By that point, it was June and Camp NaNoWriMo in July was around the corner. I realized I needed a new project and a fresh start. It took me a while (see below), but I finally have one that I’m excited about. Looking back, after all the edits on my last WIP, my excitement had sizzled out, contributing to my lack of interest in finishing it. If I don’t have that spark, it’s usually hard for me to continue with a WIP. Sometimes shelving a project, is really what is best for you and your writing.

3. The Second Chapter is the Hardest

Over the years, I’ve had plenty of ideas. I have an entire CD somewhere full of them from my high school days. Most never made it past the first chapter. Those that did, never made past it the second. All for the same reason—I just didn’t have the spark or excitement to continue with them.

When I started trying to find my next WIP I had the same issue. My last WIP was YA Fantasy. For something different, I tried YA Contemporary, then a fairy-tale retelling, an Adult Contemporary, back to YA Fantasy… and then settled on a different YA Fantasy. But one that was set in the same world (most of the background/world building was done) in a different time period than before, and switched from third person narration to first person.

I still have the files and outline for the other projects saved in case I ever wish to return to them, but I never made it to the second chapter for any of them. Like high school, they were great idea, but I just didn’t have that spark or connection. There were plenty of times I thought I did, usually when the idea first popped into my head and as I figured out the plot. But after a while it’d leave me, and I was back where I started.

That’s not saying you can’t fizzle out after the second chapter, but usually if I can make it to the second chapter, then I’m good for a while. It’s not that the second chapter is hard to write, but simply reaching the second chapter and going beyond is the hard part. I’ve known plenty of people with great ideas, but they never make it past the first page or on to chapter two. My personal experience has taught me that if I can get that far, then I truly have a new WIP.

4. Embrace Other Parts of Your Life When You Fail

I saw this or a quote similar to it a couple months ago, and it’s true. When I was having issues with my editing and feedback from beta reads, my writing came to a sudden halt. I flirted with a few different story ideas, but as previously stated, never got very far with them which only added to my funk.

So, I decided to focus on something else for a bit while searching my next story: engineering. I’m currently in the process of studying for my Professional Engineering Exam in October which I need in order to be licensed. If things go well, I might share some tips, but for now I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch.

Switching my attention to engineer helped distract me from my writing slump, and gave me some renewed energy. When I hit a wall with studying (statics) I’d take a break and write.

Going back forth between the two—along with a few other of my hobbies— was just what I needed, and eventually I did find a new WIP (though I am still studying). Sometimes taking a step back from something that’s frustrating and trying something else, is what you need. It can get your creative juices flowing, renew your energy, and boost your confidence.

5. You Don’t Have to be Alone

When people think of writers, the picture that usually comes to mind is of a loner, huddled in the dark over a brightly lit computer screen, typing furiously away. And for the longest time I was one of them. I might share my work with a friend or two, but I never reached out to other writers or tried learning how to improve my writing.

But I wish I did. Over the past year, I’ve become more active on Twitter, tried applying for mentorship programs, met other writers, and joined a few different writing groups. Not only have I learned more about the writing/publishing process, but I realized I’m not the only aspiring writer out there trying to balance a life, full time job, and get published.

Now, such a realization can be daunting. After all, if you’re not the only unicorn in existence, how special are you? But it can all be a relief. I can connect with other writers sharing the ups and downs, see successes, and get feedback on my writing which will ultimately helps me in the long run. If I hadn’t encountered the wonderful writing community that exists, I know I wouldn’t have been able to move forward with a new WIP. I’d either be running in circles with my last one, or have given up on writing completely.

So, if you’re looking to publish a book, or just interested in joining the community, don’t be timid and shy. Reach out. Connect with people. Yes, it’s not perfect and there are people you should avoid, but overall the community is great, open and welcoming, especially to those who are new. Don’t be like me thinking you have to be alone on your writing journey.

That’s it for now, hopefully next year I’ll have even more to share.

Lessons Learned From RevPit

First, if you’re wondering what the hell a RevPit is, go check out the official website. Go. Now.

If you’re still reading, you either know what RevPit is (go you!), have returned from reading the website (also go you!) or have no idea but decided to continue on (still go you!).

Earlier this month I took the plunge and submitted to RevPit. While I didn’t get any requests from editors, I’m glad I entered. I learned a lot from the process which I hope to share with others who might feel down due to rejection, or future RevPit hopefuls still unsure about entering.

Read the Rules

This might sound obvious, but read the rules. Seriously. Go to the website and read what’s required, in what format, and click on the provided examples.

In the days leading up to and during the submission window, I saw many hopefuls repeating the same questions on Twitter. Questions they would know the answers to if they just spent some time on the actual website. Even during their #10queries, editors were pointing out writers who clearly didn’t read the rules.

It’s one thing if you spot contrary information (which did happen) or if you’re confused and need something clarified. But if you can’t even bother to read how your query and submission should be properly formatted, the editor will wonder what else you haven’t been bothered to do. Don’t let the reason you’re not picked be something as simple as not taking five minutes and reading the rules.

Whether you’re submitting to RevPit or querying an agent, ALWAYS check what format and specifications they want before you click send.

Be Social

As an introvert, this is something I struggle with. I much prefer to be a silent observer in the back watching everybody else interact. I’m so afraid I’ll either say/do the wrong thing or can’t compare to everybody else, I find it easier to not interact at all. I’ve been trying to break this habit, especially when it comes to the awesome RevPit community on Twitter. It can be intimidating watching other writers continually post teasers for their manuscripts, which sound much better than mine.

But it can also be rewarding to chime in from time to time, which I’ve started doing. It was hard at first, but I’ve met some incredible people and learned I don’t have to be alone in my writing journey. The community is so friendly– not just other writers, but the editors as well– and you’re missing out if you don’t join in. Even if it’s just the occasional tweet and liking somebody else’s tweet.

It’s also important to socialize with other hopefuls because…

Your Query and Manuscript Can Always be Improved

Before you submit to RevPit, have somebody else review it, especially if very few people have. If you’re a new writer, the chances are slim you’re that one in a million rare unicorn who can write the perfect query and first five pages. Even if you have had others give comments, it doesn’t hurt to get more.

So how do you do that? By being social. Whether it’s joining a group of RevPit hopefuls and critiquing each other’s subs (which I did, and was extremely helpful!), or taking advantage of the free query critiques and positivity passes that are offered.

By joining a group you’ll also get the chance to critique others, which can be helpful in its own way. Seeing what they did well, or giving you ideas of what to address in your own sub. Sometimes the best way to learn is by looking at other examples– be they good or bad.

However, just remember…

You Need to Step Away

Because I have two MC’s with two timelines set fifty years apart, I struggled with my query. I went from having too much information, to reducing things and therefore making it too vague, then to where it is now. It’s a lot better than when I first started, largely thanks to my writing group and other generous Twitter offers.

While I will always see something else to add or change every time I read my query or pages, there came a point where I had to stop and let it be. Every writer needs to know when to step back from their keyboard. Otherwise we’d never stop editing and would never get anything published.

So how do you know when it’s time? When the suggestions are getting fewer, and you’ve had several people from different backgrounds look at it. While having other hopeful writers look at your work is a good start, you should also have more experienced writers and editors who might catch things those novice writers could miss. Once you’ve had those comments, call it quits for the time being. You can always go back once RevPit is over.

If you do take advantage of the generous offers from others, always…

Be Thankful

Whether it’s towards people in your writing group, the generous critique offers on Twitter, or the editors you’re applying to, be polite and gracious. Remember, nobody owes you anything.

Those people who offer up free query critiques? Those writers in your writing group? The editors who say they’ll give all their subs some basic feedback? They are not required to do those things, but choose to. So be grateful. Make sure to thank them, let them know you appreciate them taking time out of their lives to help you improve your writing. Don’t get angry if you disagree with their points. Don’t pester them endlessly for more advice beyond what they’ve offered. Once they’ve done their part, say thank you and let them go on their way.

Now, I haven’t seen any ungrateful behavior, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I’m sure there are editors and even other writers have stories of seeing such behavior in action, potentially turning them off from helping others. You don’t want to be the one who ruins another writer’s experience. So be thankful and respectful.

The Early Bird Does Get the Worm

RevPit has two days open for submissions. You can apply anytime during that time period, but I recommend doing it ASAP. This year many editors capped at 100 submissions within the first day. By the second, there were a lot of writers scrambling to find alternates for their alternates, considering anyone open to their genre. I applied as soon as it possible, and while the website did crash, within minutes RevPit tweeted the link to the application form. I got the editors I wanted before they capped.

I realize it’s hard for some. Whether they’re doing last minute edits, just discovered RevPit, or have scheduling conflicts, they might not be able to submit as soon as possible. If that’s the case, then do as much preparation beforehand.

Read the rules to ensure you have everything you need in the correct format. Prepare the answers to your questions– remember, there are questions– ahead of time, and within the allowed characters. Edit them until you’re happy, so you can copy and paste your answers when you do submit. Go through all the editors and pay attention to their Twitter question and answer sessions. Make a list in descending order of your top choices, and make sure you have something written for why you picked them, even for your alternates. Nobody wants to hear they were picked because they were the last choice. Go beyond the required two editors and one alternate, choosing a few more as backups, just in case they’re needed.

By being prepared you limit the time needed to complete your submission, meaning you can move on to…

The Roller-Coaster of Emotions

Be forewarned, RevPit will screw with your emotions. First it’s the hype and expectations. Should I do this? Is my manuscript ready? There’s so many editors! Which do I chose? Oh look, that editor is begging for my manuscript! You participate in the community, the question and answer sessions, getting more and more pumped, inching your way closer to the top and then BAM! You’ve reached the top when it’s finally time to submit.

And then you plummet. Not just plummet, but have ups and downs, fast turns, near misses, and loops on a roller-coaster you can’t wait to exit.

Waiting for word, scouring every #10queries tweet by your editor. Oh my god, is that tweet about my submission? They hate it, I’m horrible, I can’t compare to the others, why’d I ever submit?! No, it’s not mine, can’t be mine, mine has to be the one they loved! Wait, the query didn’t even have the bio or only had one paragraph and it still made their shortlist? I didn’t make those mistakes, and was passed! I deserve better! They just tweeted they sent out requests, but my mailbox is still empty. I’m sure it got lost. They’ll request more. Maybe it’s in spam. Maybe there’s something wrong with my internet. Did I screw up my e-mail address? Maybe I’m a failure and shouldn’t have submitted at all…

When you’re on a high, you’re on a high. But you can plummet so quickly with self-doubt, and have a hard time getting out of it. I’ve seen many writers battle Impostor Syndrome– when you think you’re nothing more than an impostor and can never compete with real writers– and have experienced it myself.

The RevPit roller-coaster of emotions is normal. There will be highs, and there will be lows. Remember you are not the only one riding it, and it will end. Eventually. One possible way to combat it, is…

Don’t Read Your Editor’s #10Queries

Once editors get their subs, they’ll start doing #10queries where they review queries and pages of their subs in sets of ten. Not all do it, some only do a few, and there are some real overachievers who will do their maximum amount of 100 submissions.

It can be tempting to read their tweets, but can easily lead to the roller-coaster of emotions or Imposter Syndrome mentioned above. However, their tweets can also be helpful by pointing out what queries should and shouldn’t do, or what they’re looking for in pages. Remember, sometimes the best way to learn is through examples, and #10queries is a great way to do so.

Which is why you should only read the tweets of the editors you didn’t submit too. That way you can learn, but also not stress out over wondering what tweet does and doesn’t apply to your submission. I really wish I would have known this beforehand, for it would have saved me a lot of unneeded stress and worry, but learn from my mistake.

You should also keep in mind…

The Editors are Human

When you have no professional writing experience or credentials, it can be easy to put anyone with said experience– such as the editors– on a high pedestal. They have made it. They know the industry. They’re all-knowing powerful writing gods who get in GIF wars and have deemed one novice’s manuscript worthy of their attention and expertise.

They’re also human beings with families and lives. They only have one week to first slog through 160,000 words (100 submissions * approx. 1600 words for query and first five pages), and then make requests based off those 160,000 words. Depending on genre and audience they then have an additional 250,000 words (5 requests *50,000 words) to 1,000,000 words (10 requests *100,000 words) to get through. All while balancing their families, personal life, actual job, and important things like sleeping, eating, and basic hygiene.

That’s an insane amount of words and pages to get through in just a week. I know from personal experience, my comprehension and retention are different when I speed read vs. take my time. The same goes for them. They’re not just reading for pleasure, they’re reading while scanning for half a dozen things– voice, character, plot, whether they can offer the manuscript anything in under five weeks, etc. Reading is a subjective experience anyway, but adding in a time crunch? Even more so.

The editors aren’t perfect, and their opinion is just their opinion based on a very short amount of time reading your submission. If they pass or give feedback you disagree with, remember that is their right and just their opinion. It doesn’t mean that your manuscript is terrible, just that they’re not the right editor for you at that moment.

Also…

Failure is an Option

Assuming your editor caps at 100 submissions, you only have a 1% chance of being picked by that editor. 1%. It’s minuscule. Not as small as winning the lotto odds (though it does feel like it), but still small odds.

And that’s okay. I got zero requests from RevPit and I’m not bothered by it. Why? Because I already won in other ways. When I was first considering RevPit, my query was a mess, my total word count was over 118,000 words, and don’t even get my started on my synopsis. By being active, I met other RevPit hopefuls. I improved my query, got my word count to under 105,000 words, made some hopefully lifelong writing friends, and a potential critique partner. I came into RevPit with the ultimate goal of improving my manuscript, which I did– just not in the way I initially hoped.

Rejection can hurt whether it’s the first time or the hundredth. Life is full of rejection and failures, not just writing. But rejection can make you stronger. Without rejection, you’ll never be thankful for success. Being handed everything without trying or working for it, isn’t as satisfying as knowing how far you’ve come, and that you’ve earned that success.

Failure can also be a great learning experience. You’ve failed, but what have you learned? What can you do to improve yourself and your writing? What will you do differently next time? There’s a saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Don’t do that. Learn from your failure, and do something different, for the next time might be the time you succeed.

Editors can pass on a manuscript for any number of reasons, not necessarily because it was bad. It may have been there wasn’t enough time to address the issues with a manuscript, or there were hardly any issues to address. Maybe it was too close to another project the editor’s working on, or they just weren’t clicking with it. Maybe they just liked another submission better, or a combination of the above.

There can only be one winner and one finalist for each editor. That means there are also 97 other rejected hopefuls like you. Reach out. Make friends. Comfort one another. If you do, you might just find you don’t mind failing so much either.

However….

Not Every Book Should be Published

I know a lot of writers and editors are constantly offering words of encouragement about how every book is awesome and deserves to be published.

They’re lies. They’re nice, comforting words, but still lies. My current manuscript is not my first complete manuscript. I have a few others, but I’ll never publish them, assuming anybody would want to publish them.

The thing about being a writer is that you’re writing should always be evolving, improving for the better. I know my writing has improved over the years– I can see it in the difference between my current manuscript and previous works. I can see it in those previous works compared to what I wrote in high school. Every new project I learn something new, and try to incorporate it for my next one.

The same should be happening for your writing. You should always be learning and improving. There’s a lot of published authors who don’t get published until their third, fourth, fifth, manuscript. It took them a while, but they’re writing finally improved to the point where their manuscript was good enough to be published in the current market.

The trick is to recognize when your manuscript should be published. At the time I wrote my first ones, I was convinced they were the best thing ever, and would revolutionize the industry. Now I know better. They were good for the time, but I can do better, and have done better.

I still have doubts on my current one, but I’m going to keep moving forward, because…

There is No Right Path to Publishing

It can be easy to get so wrapped up in RevPit you forget being picked by an editor does not equate to a publishing deal. There are those who were rejected, but get published while winners and finalists are still waiting. There are plenty of writers who never do RevPit or writing contests, but get agents and publishing contracts anyway.

There are many paths to publishing. Some are straight and narrow highways. Others are curvy, long and windy one lane wide roads, full of pot holes, speed bumps, traffic jams, and work zones. But what all those paths have in common is that they only lead to publishing if you’re willing to travel down them.

It’s okay to be hesitant about submitting to RevPit. It’s okay to wallow in rejection. It’s okay to doubt whether or not you’ll ever be published. But you have to be willing to move on. Learn from your mistakes. Join writing groups and make new writing friends. Keep entering contests and improving your writing. Take some of the lessons I’ve learned and applied them to your own writing journey.

Because it is a journey, and most likely a long journey. But it’s one you don’t have to travel alone, and will lead to publishing– as long as you keep trying.

That’s all for now and thanks for reading. Are you a RevPit hopeful? Still riding that RevPit roller-coaster? Have something you’ve learned? Let me know in a comment below.

— Kay S. Beckett