It’s so exciting to have so many friends around the world–writers, heartful marketers like Lynn Serafinn, bloggers, like Kathy Pooler–I’m a guest on her site today–and all kinds of people passionate about memoir writing. I was telling someone about my good friend Sharon Lippincott the other day, and they asked how I knew her. Sharon is one of my colleagues at the National Association of Memoir Writers, and–we’ve never met, in person that is. We have talked on the phone countless times, collaborated, schemed ideas, planned, and even Skyped–so I know what she looks like–but meet? No, not yet. I hope to see her in person when she comes west. But we are good friends thanks to the Internet.
The other day on Facebook I was awed by the number of people responding to the huge beautiful moon this weekend–dozens of people posted about it and added their photos of the moon taken from all over the country. I felt blessed to be connected even in cyber space by so many people and their response to the moon! It is because of social media that we can be connected like this–and though people disparage the cyber space thing at times–every one of those posts I read was made by a real person. And on Twitter–it does not operate by bots, for the most part. The tweets that I read, and I don’t spend enough time there really, are all by real people who are writing, publishing, and reaching out with their message. It’s amazing to see this. There are so many communities online and so many ways to shake hands with people. I’m learning a lot about this attitude from Dan Blank, whose terrific course” How to Build your Author’s Platform” will help you change your thinking.
I know that memoir writers sometimes struggle with “social media” and mistakenly think that it’s superficial or a waste of time. I was one of those people, but no more. When we approach marketing and getting the word out about something important to us with respect, we will receive it back. When we offer something of value to others–in a memoir it’s the lesson, the message, the wisdom that is offered–others will think about how that message affects them. They will get curious and reach out to you.
Lynn Serafinn, a two-time guest at the National Association of Memoir Writers, is offering a conference about what I call “heartful marketing” in London in June–and I’m going! The reason I’m going is to connect with a large community of people who are passionate about having a spirit-ful connection with others, and I want to bring back lessons and wisdom about how memoir writers can shift their attitude about marketing and reaching out from a grudging “Okay, I supposed I have to start a blog and get on Facebook, what a drag,” to curiosity–“how can I make new friends on the web whom I would never know otherwise. How can I learn how to make all this work for me so I grow my community?” See below for how you can sign up.
1. Think about who you already have in your community–friends, relatives, friends of friends. That’s where you start.
2. Make a list of people whose message you resonate with–and what they say that triggers your response to them.
3. Now make a list of well known people–authors, talk show hosts, movie stars–whoever you really admire and like. Look at the review on Amazon of your favorite authors–maybe someone there is a person you can connect with.
4. Remember community is a circle–give and receive, comment and respond. It’s a little like going to a party where you shake hands and find out what you have in common. You listen, and you say a few things about yourself. Not the long form speech about your book, but the two-line elevator speech where you say what it is about and how it can help others.
There. Homework done, but keep making your lists and adding to them. Check your negative attitude at the door, and open up to the grand community we have here on the www–the World Wide Web.
If you are interested in Lynn’s global conference, the early bird discount is available. Sign up here for the conference or the simulcast–it’s very reasonable and easy to attend.
In my local community, I’m teaching a workshop at Beth Barany’s Write and Publish your Book in 2012 on May 19th. A great group of presenters will get you up to date in the 21st century of writing and publishing.
Now, back to writing. Later, I’ll look into Facebook for a few minutes, Twitter for a few minutes, and stop off at a couple of blogs. Just a regular day with my community of writers!
We hear this term “platform” so often—and many of us are still trying to figure out what it means. It’s actually simple—it means “audience.” The concept of “platform” means that we build our audience in various ways—in person, with friends, community, colleagues, our network of other writers, people with whom we have a lot in common, and those are who are interested in our topic.
This network, which has the potential to grow outward and upward—creates a launch pad for us when our book is finally done. Bit by bit, over time and with care, we create an audience who will cheer us on when our book comes out—and even more than that—they will buy our book and tell their friends about it!
Dan Blank is a social media guru and founder of WeGrowMedia.com
Dan spoke to us at the National Association of Memoir Writers 2012 Telesummit Writing in the Digital Age a couple of weeks ago about how to make social media outreach easy to understand.
I had a few ahas during the Telesummit:
- We don’t have to grow huge numbers on Facebook and Twitter. What matters is the message that we are passionate to share, and communicating it in a meaningful ways.
- We need to be authentic about crafting our message and be real about who we are. After all, our book, our writing, and our presence online needs to match up with who we really are, not some fake persona that we don’t live up to.
- The best thing we can do is to write, write, write, first and only do the social media activities that we feel comfortable doing. If we hate what we are doing, that will slow us down in creating our platform.
- Because writers tend to be more inwardly focused, we need to learn how to do outreach at our own pace. It will get easier over time. I have found this to be true.
I’m learning a lot from Dan through one of his online courses. I’ll be sure to tune you into my new insights as they come. In the meantime, I set a goal to write two hours a day. No, I don’t always get the full two hours in, but it’s something to aim for. That is how we get the writing done—one day at a time.
What did you write today? How many words did you get on the page? How do you plan to begin tomorrow? Some writers edit to begin their writing day, while others get out the pen and paper and write longhand. Others write morning pages or a poem. What is your best method?
Jane Friedman also writes great stuff about platform. Check out her blog. Find others who blog about the topics you want to learn more about and sign up for their blog posts. Bit by bit, you will learn from others about how to write, blog, and create your desired audience.
I’m pleased to present a guest blog post by Kathy Pooler. She has been in my workshops and is one of my premier blogger friends. Please join her blog at Memoir Writer’s Journey.
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” Robert Cormier
Photo Credit: “The Editing Process-Before and After” uploaded from Flickr
One of the greatest benefits of a critique group is receiving constructive feedback that enables you to take your writing to the next level. That can only happen if you allow yourself to be open to hearing from others what is working and what is not. I have been participating in Linda Joy’s Spiritual Autobiography and Healing Memoir Teleworkshops since January, 2010, where I have learned that writing is truly rewriting.
Revision is part of the process, as much as we’d like to think we can get it done on the first try.
Let’s face it, we all want our readers to fall in love with our little darlings. Our stories are our babies. We have created them with our own hearts and hands, but sometimes we are so close to our own words that we can’t see the discrepancies, missteps and omissions–the tweaks here and there that will make our stories and our characters become alive on the pages. Learning to self-edit is essential to our growth as writers. Read this excellent post by author, Nicola Morgan, comparing self-editing to weeding a garden.
Jody Hedlund, author of several Christian novels, Preacher Bride and The Doctor’s Lady,has an excellent blog post on her reactions to her own revision process “Getting Feedback That Makes You Cry.” About the “initial sting” of feedback, she states, “You need to give it some time and then come back to the suggestions with humble and objective eyes.” I really appreciate Jody’s honest sharing about the human aspect of receiving feedback.
The point is we have to be able to separate our emotions from the process of revising, and convince ourselves that revising will make our stories stronger.
We have to get over ourselves so we can go on to craft the best story in the best way.
“Writing is rewriting” is a common mantra in writing circles. In his book, Revision and Self-Editing, novelist James Scott Bell,talks about the importance of “rewriting with know-how” and lists the following tips in the revision process:
* Cool -Down …Take a break and walk away when your first draft is done.
* Prepare… Read through your first draft completely for the first time.
* Print out and prepare a fresh copy…with red felt pen and notepad handy.
* Get ready to read your manuscript… in a couple of sittings.
* Use outside readers…for objective opinions.
* Analyze… Does my story make sense, is my plot compelling, are my characters believable? Think about the effect on your reader as you write and revise, particularly in the later stages. Then, there’s the idea of deciding when our manuscript is done–after we’ve rewritten, incorporated feedback, deleted, added on, transformed our story and owned it. Perhaps this is another topic for another time.”
It seems to me that it’s essential to accept writing as rewriting, and revising as a natural part of the process. Constructive feedback helps us to see our blind spots, and offers us a chance to see through another reader’s eyes. These steps strengthen our stories and give them every possible chance to get into the hands of readers who will devour them with the same gusto it took for us to write them.
Perhaps the real starting point is when we accept that our first draft is lousy and needs to be rewritten, revised, and reconstructed. In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls a first draft “a child who is let loose and romps all over.”
I’d love to hear how you feel about revising and editing your work.
Are you rewriting with “know-how?”
Any ideas on how to get through the revision process as painlessly as possible?
Photo Credit: “The Revision Process” uploaded from Flickr
Join Kathy and me and other memoir writers at the National Association of Memoir Writers Free Telesummit Friday March 30. Sign up to join, or get the all day conference on audio to listen to later. Guests include Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, Dan Blank, Social Media guru and founder of WeGrowMedia.com, Tessa Smith McGovern founder of eChook, Lynn Serafinn, author of the 7 Graces of Marketing, Brooke Warner, expert writing coach at Warner Coaching, and me–Linda Joy Myers, author of The Power of Memoir. See you there!
Writers, and all creative people, have a range of ease for the output of their creative art—from freeflowing river to arid desert—and for many years, creative coaches have tried to explain why and how we achieve the desired state, and how to avoid the desert.
You know about this—you have an idea, or you don’t but you sit down and the writing bubbles out of the ends of your fingers and onto the page. You experience the joy of this flow, feeling that you’re simply a conduit for something erupting from you. It is a state of flow, a state of being that is pleasurable, natural, and rather exciting. The problem is that no one can sustain it. Many modes of persuasion have been tried to stimulate this state, from drugs and alcohol to meditation and visualization. Clearly there are healthy ways to stimulate creativity, but still it is an elusive jewel, and we are left with the fact that we have to work with the state of the human mind which is ever fluctuating.
The root of inspiration, is spirare, which means to breathe. We breathe in this special state of creative flow. We need to approach our creative state with respect and with a sense of appreciation for its fragility. One of my favorite authors Brenda Ueland writes about inspiration in her book If You Want to Write. Think about and spend time with these inspirational suggestions, and better yet, read her book!
Inspiration comes slowly and quietly.…imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.
If [you have] an idleness when you walk alone for a long, long time, or take a long dreamy time dressing, or lie in bed at night and thoughts come and go, or dig in a garden or drive a car for many hours alone; or an idleness where you sit with pencil and paper or before a typewriter quietly putting down what you happen to be thinking—that is creative idleness.
…thoughts come so slowly. For what we write today slipped into our souls some other day when we were alone and doing nothing.
I love the last quote the most! What slips into your soul when you’re not looking?
Journal about these questions.
What are your creative techniques? How do you get started writing?
What kind of environment do you need? What feeds your creative soul?
Want more inspiration? Join the National Association of Memoir Writers Friday, March 30 for the Free Memoir Writing Telesummit Memoir Writing in the Digital Age. Learn from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, Lynn Serafinn, the author of the 7 Graces of Marketing, , Dan Blank, Social Media guru and founder of WeGrowMedia.com, Tessa Smith McGovern founder of echook.com, Brooke Warner, Executive Editor at Seal Press and expert coach at Warnercoaching.com. Sign up to get the free audios for the day!