Tag Archives: success

Feedback

Tick & Cross

 

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything but a comment by an online acquaintance got me thinking about a topic and I thought I’d share my experiences with regards to this.

What was the comment?

They wished that markets to which they had submitted stories and been knocked back would provide feedback about why they did not select the submitted story

My first thought was, yeah that would be great but on further reflection and after reviewing some of the feedback I’ve received from editors and readers I’m not sure that is true.

I’ve made seventy-four (74) submissions to various markets over the past couple of years and from these 74 submissions I’ve received 9 pieces of personal feedback. The quality of the feedback has been all over the place, some has been useful, some disheartening, some affirming, some insulting.

I’m not going to name the markets, I still might like to have something published there, but I’ll share some of the feedback

“The prose needs work; it’s overwrought in some places, clumsy in others. There are frequent punctuation errors.”

This one was crushing I wished I’d never submitted it. It wasn’t my best work, but personally, I would have preferred a, it is not right for us, form rejection then this. I didn’t find it especially constructive or helpful. This is especially true when on another submission for the same piece I received this feedback

“I thought it was well-written and moved at a good pace, but unfortunately, it’s not quite what we’re looking for at the moment.”

Which one is correct, I’m going to say the second, although In actuality it came first (chronologically) the surprising thing is that the positive feedback came from a market paying pro-rates while the negative came from a semi-pro market.

In general, the feedback I’ve been given has not been entirely helpful, it certainly did not lead me to extensive rewrites of my pieces. Most feedback from markets seems to be along the lines of the second example, I like this element, but it’s not for us, which leaves me thinking well if you liked it why isn’t it for you?

So what have I learned, well if you are looking for feedback find a community that does provides this, other writers and readers, that will tell you what they like or don’t like either in person or online. I’m a member of www.fantasy-writers.org a website that provide a place for author to post and critique each other’s stories and I cannot emphasis how helpful this has been for improving my own writing (please not the quality displayed in this blog in no way reflects the grammar, punctuation, and general word-smithery I would find acceptable in a story I deem ready to submit to a publisher). I would also like to apologise to all FWo members to whom I owe a critique, it is coming (so is Christmas). I’m slack, slow and have been incredibly unproductive this year.

The other thing I’ve learned is that the only real feedback that I am interested in from any market, are the words “has been accepted for publication”.

This is vindication, this is affirmation, we like it but it’s not for us, we didn’t like this or we like this but… are fine but don’t really help me, you should always remember any feedback is subjective, just because someone doesn’t like something doesn’t mean others won’t love it. I recall someone mentioning that Harry Potter got rejected 17 times, love it or loathe it, it is successful. Don’t get hung up on rejections, even if they come with negative or positive feedback, just keep plugging away, keep improving and you might get lucky.

I did.

It took Seventy-Three (73) rejections but I finally got one (1) acceptance, but more on that latter (You’ll probably have a hard time shutting me up about it to be honest).

Thanks for reading and good luck with your writing.

as always the dog

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How I feel after a Rejection

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Reading & Writing

I’ve encountered a conundrum in my quest to be a Writer. Never mind the fact that I write slower than Martin or Rothfuss. It seems that reading and writing are diametrically opposed. At least they are for me. When I’m doing one I’m not doing the other. And I’m not talking about in the same moment, I mean in general.

Since late Jan I’ve been slogging my way through the stack of books that sit below my desk. I finished Abercrombie’s, Half a War. Lawrence’s, Wheel of Osheim. Modesitt’s, Towers of the Sunset. Sanderson’s, Shadows of Self and I’m about to finish Bank’s, State of the Art. (I’ll try and get some short review’s up for these throughout April). What I haven’t done is work on my novel. But working on my novel is why there is a stack of books beneath my desk, because while I was writing last year I wasn’t reading. I kept buying the books as they were released and piling them beneath my desk (They are beneath my desk so my wife doesn’t find out I’m still adding to my library when she told me not to).

Maybe I can only have so much fantasy and I have to resign myself to the fact that if I’m reading I won’t be writing, or vice versa. Maybe at the moment I’m just too busy and that once things calm down I be able to find some balance at the moment however it’s one or the other. The purpose of babbling about this is I’d like to know how everyone deals with this. Have you ever had a similar problem? Is there anything that inhibits your own writing?

Thanks for reading

Now for the dog

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When your done with her nappy do mine

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Distractions

distractions

It seems that my blog rolls in a cycle I talk about goals, targets, what my plans are and how I’m going to achieve them. The next week I’m back making excuses, explaining why nothing came to fruition, accepting failure and doing better the next time. (I swear this time I’ve got a really good one).

Well this month I’m going to talk about distractions, things that keep us from writing. As I see it distractions fall into two categories; Important and Unimportant. Things like spending the time you should be writing trawling through Facebook or watching Netflix are Unimportant distractions. Things like attending work, completing study/school and spending time with family are Important distractions.

My productivity has slowed to a crawl due to an important distraction. My daughter was born at the end of January and has been greedily consuming the time I usually spend writing but that is alright she’s adorable and a distraction I am happy to have.img_1721

The problem with distractions is that not all of them fall into such a clear cut basket of Unimportant or Important or to complicate things even further an Unimportant distraction might be useful or productive while an Important distraction might be counterproductive.

My daughter as important as she is, is a counterproductive distraction. Whilst I’m spending time with her nothing is happening with my writing. Work is a little bit of an in-between it is definitely important, you might argue that that time spent working is counterproductive as you are working rather than writing or you might argue that it’s productive as your generating money you can use to hire editors, cover artists if you are going down the self-publishing route or simply keep the electricity on so your computer with all those hard written/type words stored in its gizzards is a functional device rather than an ornate door stop (I’m not writing this story by hand and while a typewriter is cool I neither have the proficiency or patience to avoid or correct my mistakes). Study/School in my opinion is not only an important distraction but probably a productive one too, no matter what you are learning this is additional information that you can pump into your writing. For instance I’m studying commerce and this inspired a short story about price fixing and alternate markets. Explained like this its dry and boring but the scene was written as four parties around a bargaining table trading veiled threats and offers and I got decent feedback about it.

Unimportant distractions can sit in even more of a grey area. Sure trawling through Facebook or power watching an entire season of a show on Netflix could probably be classed as an Unimportant distraction but occasionally it might be productive. A few of my characters have been inspired by friends or acquaintances and TV, movies and pop-culture probably inspire a few too many of my stories.

Then we have things like word-building, side-stories, and research which might start off being important but when overdone can become unimportant whilst still being productive and if taken to the extremes might even end up being unproductive. Trying to work out where to devote my time is frustrating. So many things to do Important things, Unimportant things, Productive things, Counterproductive things that need to get done how do I choose?

The answer is simple. Do whatever you need to. If you feel you need to run up and down the street screaming at the top of your lungs do it. Definitely do the important things. Feel free to spend time doing the Unimportant things. If you can, try and turn them into productive exercises, but remember it is fine to be unproductive too. The only thing you absolutely have to do if you want to be a writer is write just try and remember that it is okay to do other things too.

I’m not even going to bother to update my progress for my yearly goals. I got nothing (very little) done. The year is off to a great start and that’s fine I’ve got other things to do but I will write. I promise. I will find the time. I’ll do it today.

Thanks for reading

And now for the dog

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2017 Goals

what are your goals?

I’ve spent the past few posts ranting, writing and raving about goals, failures and being realistic with your targets. It just so happens that I had possibly chosen a fortuitous time to be discussing such a thing. The stars are in alignment or just possibly the dates, anyhoo. One thing that happens every time a New Year eve rolls around is that people make huge possibly unrealistic promises to themselves about what they are going to accomplish with in the New Year.

We reset in January and say this year is going to be better, I’m going to do so much and I’m going to accomplish this. I had a number for my list this year, lose weight and drink less, the usual stuff. I’ve already failed the second of those.

I did have one other possibly unrealistic resolution to add to that list. Finish my Novel. At least finish the draft. Considering the progress I’ve made this would seem like an effort in futility. And it might be but it gives me something to strive for.

Edwin Locke in the 1960’s proposed the Goal Setting Theory of Motivation (And I think we could always use more motivation) which is a complex and tedious way of saying, goals indicate and give direction about what needs to be done and how much effort is required to be put in.

Goals need to be specific and clear (Finish my novel, I don’t think I can get clearer than that), realistic and challenging (Not entirely sure about realistic but it will definitely be challenging). The individual (in this case me) must display Self-efficiency (I need to believe that I can do this) and Goal Commitment (I need to want to do this).

So I tick all the boxes (mostly) Alright I’ve got a yearly goal. Now I need to break that down into manageable portions. Months, Weeks and Days. Smaller goals are easier to achieve and make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside after I’ve beaten them (Preferably with a large stick).

 

Year (I’m throwing in a few more minor goals too).

  1. Finish Novel (0/1) (I think about 24 Chapter will get me to the end)
  1. Finish Novella (0/1) (Probably about 15,000 words left)
  1. Write 3 short stories (0/3) (2,000 – 5,000 words each)
  1. My reading has slowed right down so, Read at least 24 Books in the year (0/24)
  1. Provide feedback to other authors that I have a critique exchange going with (I’ve been very slack)

 

So now I’ll break these down into what I consider to be manageable chunks and set monthly, weekly and daily goals. Small is always easier and It will also let me track how I’m progressing and when I need to put in a little (or a lot) more effort.

 

Month

  1. Write 2 Chapters a Month (0/2)
  1. Read 2 Books (0/2)
  1. Review 4 Chapters (0/4)

 

Week

  1. Write minimum 3,000 words per week (I’m estimating 156,000 words should get all my projects complete) (0/3000)
  1. Read ½ Book
  1. 1 Chapter Review (0/1)

 

Days (Some things are a little harder to break down into days so only one thing)

  1. Write 600 word s per day (this unfortunately doesn’t count) (0/600)

 

 

I think this is a big ask but I’ll at least be able to track how I’m going. Not well on the daily word count I can tell you that, but now that I’ve set my goal nothing is going to stop me.  (I’ll be writing a retraction momentarily). Anyway I would love to hear about everyone’s writing goals. Are your unrealistic? Are they manageable?

My dogs goal for 2017 seems to be sleep on the bed as much as possible

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What do you mean  your spot?

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Targets

target

This one is going to be super quick. I’ve stumbled over (been shown) an important consideration for any perspective writer, freelancer, storyteller, blogger or any other creative person. I’ve rambled on about setting goals and how they help me. I’ve talked about making them manageable, dealing with failure, overcoming blocks and a host of other concerns. So far though I’ve thrown out monthly goals, finish this chapter, plot this, have this organised. If you are struggling (see me last month) the best thing that I can advise you to do is to set a small goal, a word target for the next day. I’m going to write 100 words or similar. Make it manageable. Up the target for the following day. Don’t get carried away with one day of solid writing, build slowly. Don’t start at 2k words per day build up to it. Once you have some momentum find a target your happy to keep hitting. For me I’m happy with 500 words a day, every weekday. If I can keep that up it will be a miracle. Remember that it is alright to fail (read my last post). Keep a log, record your progress. Build a habit of writing.

This little piece of advice/process has gotten me out of a funk. I can’t take credit for it though. The thanks goes to Arisillion from www.fantasy-writers.org He made a forum post asking everyone to post their targets. I love targets and goals and I was doing badly so thought I would start slowly. Here is my progress

06/12/2016 104
07/12/2016 192
08/12/2016 199
09/12/2016 437
10/12/2016
11/12/2016
12/12/2016 650
13/12/2016 516
14/12/2016 540
15/12/2016 536
16/12/2016 512

And I’m not even counting this blog. It might not seem like a lot but it’s over 2,500 of words this week and since I’ve started keeping track and setting daily targets I’ve written twelve times as many words as I wrote in the entirety of last month. I’ve made more progress on my novel than I have in ages. I’m almost finished chapter 10 and that’s while also writing a short story, dealing with university assignments, prepping for Christmas, taking time off to see the midnight premier of Star Wars: Rogue One (It’s awesome. Highly recommend everyone sees it) and today being super distracted by Mario Run (I so did not need an addictive plumber on my iPhone) so I’m feeling good. I’m taking the weekend off but on Monday I’m aiming for another 500 word and I’ll try and keep it going every business day until the end of the month. I’ll be back with more updates on my progress after the holidays and hopefully by then I will have thought of something interesting to talk/write about.

Thanks for reading. Obligatory picture of dog below.

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woof. nailed it.

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