Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tip O'Day #366 - Embrace the Unexpected

Guest blogger Mary Ann Loesch on “baby steps to help you walk the path.“

Like a lot of you, I've been doing the writing thing for a long time. It started when I was a kid and my dad took me to see my first play. Not only was I hooked on the idea of pretending to be another person, but I totally loved the thought of being able to create a new world. I immediately went home, wrote the worst play imaginable, and then made the neighbor kids act it out.

Yep. I had it bad from the beginning.

As I got older and honed my skills, I never entertained the thought of becoming serious about writing. Sure, I had hopes of publishing a short story or two, but a whole book? C'mon. Get serious. I couldn't do that…

Ha! Here I am--three books later and with a zillion projects under way. However it was by no means an easy or conventional road that got me here. There weren't any classes or writing conventions that I would credit with helping me get started. It was the things I learned in my writing group and from doing freelance assignments that put me on the path to publication.

If you don't have a writing group, find one! You'll be surprised at how much you get out of interacting with your own kind. It's almost like being a Trekkie, only you don't have to wear a uniform--unless you want to! Be particular though. Think about where you are at as a writer. What would you want from a group? Do you want manuscript critiques? Or are you more interested in sharing resources about agents and editors? Knowing these things will help you make a decision about what group is best for you. I've been in one really excellent online group that helped me re-write short stories and taught me how to critique the work of others. I've also been in a terrible online group where people did nothing but tear each other apart!

For me, the best group I've joined is the one where I get to sit down face to face with the other members and really chat about the business. This is my All Things Writing group. We were so inspired by each other that we've started a successful blog called All Things Writing that is geared towards helping writers, and we created an anthology of short stories together called All Things Dark and Dastardly.

Freelance writing is something I never expected to really learn anything from. Heck, I just wanted to make extra money so I could forward my advertising campaign for my first book! That's not what fate had planned, though. Working as a freelancer, I discovered the importance of deadlines, how to write tight, that being able to write in different styles is an important tool to have in your tool belt, and how to deal with difficult and annoying people who don't actually know anything about writing. All of these things have benefited me enormously when it came to finally getting published, and I consider them the best on the job training I've ever had!

Were there other things that helped me get published? You bet, but writing groups and freelance writing were definitely what gave me more opportunity to get there!

Mary Ann Loesch is an award winning fiction writer from Texas. Her urban fantasy Nephilim was published in 2011 by Lyrical Press. An avid blogger for All Things Writing and Loesch’s Muse, her latest book, Bayou Myth, was released this June. Check out her website or Bayou Myth on Amazon.

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