Guest Post: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned Being A Writer by Colette Freedman

CF_TheConsequences_smlI really enjoy finding out what works well for other writers. Sometimes a tip hits home and I give it a try. Other times I wish I could follow suit because something seems smart. Other times I know myself well enough to know that something won’t work for me (like mandatory daily writing). 

Below, author Colette Freedman shares her writer life lessons with us. I think numbers two and three are my favorite, I wish I could do number seven, and believe strongly in number eight.

What about you?

Please tell us in the comments — and please welcome Colette Freedman to Women’s Fiction Writers!

                  Amy xo

Ten Lessons I’ve Learned Being A Writer

by Colette Freedman

CF_TheConsequences_smlWhen I started writing, I had very few guides. This was long before the days of cell phones as an extra appendage (guilty), (a must when writing song lyrics) and the luxury of research at one’s fingerips and informative blogs beyond one’s wildest imagination. I just had the basics: libraries, parental advice, teachers’ thoughts, a lot of television watching and my own instincts. The following list is one which has taken me several years to perfect. Some of them, like numbers one and six may seem obvious, even though they involve the discipline we need as writers. Numbers five and seven are less obvious, but equally as important. In fact, each of the ten lessons I’ve learned has helped me to become a better writer and most of the list has come about by my own personal flaws of making mistakes and “doing the opposite”…ie refusing to vacation for fear of missing out, saying “yes” far too many times, and drowning in self doubt. As you pursue your craft, no many what your genre or platform, I hope that my lessons, learned from my personal mistakes, will help!

1. Write Every Day.

Writing often starts as a hobby.  You do it whenever you want; maybe weeks go by between sentences.  Writers write.  They do it every day.  Even if you work at Starbucks or in a law firm or in an advertising agency or as a lacrosse coach and write in the evenings and at weekends, you have to treat writing as a job. I worked in all of the above jobs (and many more). These ‘paying jobs’ took up most of my day and I was often exhausted when I got home and just wanted to turn on the tv and lose myself in a sitcom.  But I still had another job to do.  Writing is work and it takes work to actualize an idea into a fleshed out reality. If you believe you are a professional author and have the discipline of one, eventually you will become one (it happened to me!).

2. Say no.

Say it immediately and be definitive.

It’s both the easiest and the hardest one on the list. Life is full of wonderful opportunities and fabulous entertainment. But it is all a distraction.  As a writer, you need to pick and choose what is more important to you – an evening writing, or a night at the movies.  If you are not answering writing more than 50% of the time, you’re not really a writer.

3. Don’t be afraid to collaborate.

I like to work in three mediums: novels, plays and films. I’ve both written alone and I’ve collaborated in all three mediums and I absolutely love collaboration. When it works well, it is wonderful, although if you having a falling out with your partner, then it can be tricky.  The “baby” that you have created will link you and your partner together indefinitely. But let’s focus on the upsides, and there are many.  The biggest  upside is that you will have someone willing to go on the same adventure with you.

4. Get a comfortable chair.

I’ve written on everything from high back kitchen chairs to bean bag chairs…and I have a bad back to prove it. When I was working in advertising, my boss bought me an Aeron Herman Miller and it made all the difference. It’s ergonomic and I am able to focus more on the words on the computer than the aches and pains in my back. And if you are going to sit for hours at a stretch, remember: proper posture!  Which leads me very neatly to…

5. Stretch.

Working for hours on end is taxing on the body and eyes…. no matter how old you are. Stretch, take a walk, get a snack but get up every once and a while to move the blood around in your body.  Why do you think so many authors have dogs? They force us to get up every few hours. (I speak now from experience; I have two greyhounds who love to walk and  are always able to help me out on this one.)

6. Read.

I’ve said it in every interview. To write well, one needs to read well. Read voraciously in genres which interest you and explore ones that don’t. Read.  “What are you reading?”  is always the first question I ask people who tell me they are/about to be/are writers.  You’d be astonished you say, “Oh, I don’t have time to read.” I lose interest right at that point.

7. Vacation.

Ultimately, much of your writing life is going to be spent sitting in a room staring at a screen.  That’s a quick way to go stale.  You need to take a break  (This is an expanded version of item 5).  Pretty much every good idea that’s ever come to me occurred when I’ve been on vacation. And I don’t mean Italy or France (though those are terrific sources of inspiration), but Boston, Napa, Vegas, sunset Blvd – pretty much anywhere other than in your office, staring at a screen. When you are thrust in a new environment, it does something to the creative juices to get them swimming.   And of course, the part B of this, is to make sure that if a new idea comes to you that you have the tools to capture it.  There are lots of note taking options on phones and iPad, but I find that an old fashioned notebook, pen or pencil works just fine!

8. Pursue your passions and engage.

I love musicals and I’ll go to any show I can. (I’m even writing one right now in collaboration with an amazing partner. (see Collaborating, #2). If you love music or dance or art or politics or sports, enjoy them. Watch them. Participate in them. It fulfills you not only as a person but as an artist.

9. Get a mentor.

And what is a mentor?  It can be someone who has done what you are trying to do. It can be a teacher or a friend or someone who is already successful. It it can be a writing group – who encourages and supports you in your own efforts.  You probably don’t even have to seek one out as they’ve been there the entire time. (And yes, I have been lucky to have several mentors and advisors.)

10. Believe in yourself.

As you start out on your writing career, you will find scores of people who will tell you that you are wasting your time.  Ignore these naysayers. Confidence is the most important trait you can have in writing.  This is a lonely field and there will be many times when you will find yourself riddled with self-doubt. But you press on.  The rejections will come fast and furious (for every novel, play and screenplay I’ve had produced, I have had at least a dozen rejections). You must believe in yourself fully before other people can believe in you.

Colette_Freedman_307Colette Freedman is an internationally produced playwright with over 25 produced plays, Colette was voted “One of 50 to Watch” by The Dramatist’s Guild.

Her play Sister Cities was the hit of the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe and earned five star reviews: It has been produced around the country and internationally, fourteen times including Paris (Une Ville, Une Soeur) and Rome (Le Quattro Sorelle). The film version has been optioned and is in pre production.

She has co-written, with International bestselling novelistJackie Collins, the play Jackie Collins Hollywood Lies, which is gearing up for a National Tour. In collaboration with The New York Times best selling author Michael Scott, she wrote the thriller The Thirteen Hallows (Tor/Macmillan).

Her novel The Affair (Kensington) came out January 29, 2013. The play of the novel earned both critical and commercial success as it toured Italy February through May 2013.

Her novel The Consequences (Kensington) was released on January 28, 2014



You can find out more about Colette’s books here: 

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Guest Post: Author Rita Plush Gives A Real Voice To Her Characters Through An Audio Book

ImageToday, author Rita Plush offers us an inside look at how she facilitated the recording of her own audio book, what that process entailed, and what it meant to her. 

There are a myriad of paths to traditional publication today — small presses to e-publishers to big publishers. I love seeing an author take things into their own hands when it’s possible or necessary — because no one cares about the success of our book as much as we do. Kudos to Rita for finding a new way for her author voice to be heard. 

Please welcome Rita back to WFW!

Amy xo

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Guest Post: Four Reasons You Shouldn’t Try To Be Perfect by Author Kathryn Maeglin

HunkaHunkaCover225pixelsYou heard it here first. I am a fan of writing horrible drafts. Not publishing them, not reading them, but the only way I can get from HERE to THERE and from THIS to THAT is to let go of any notion of perfectionism in writing. You know, the same philosophy I have with the laundry. That’s not to be said that I don’t polish my work to a shine in the end, the way I iron my clothes (yes I do, pretty much daily). But to get there I LET GO.

Today, author Kathryn Maeglin shares her thoughts on perfectionism as well as her Serenity Prayer for Perfectionists. Do you need to reform? Or do you have advice? Chime in below.

And please welcome Kathryn Maeglin to Women’s Fiction Writers.

Amy xo

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Guest Post by Author Kaira Rouda: Author Branding And The Real You

MIRROR_cover_300dpiToday I’m happy to share great advice from author Kaira Rouda. She’s a marketing pro and author with some simple yet essential reminders about author branding and being who you are. Being real. Thank you, Kaira, it’s something we need to hear again and again!

 Please welcome Kaira to WFW! 

Amy xo

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Guest Post: How Author Brenda Janowitz Dusted Off An Old Idea And Wrote A New Adult Novel

LHC coverPublishing is like the weather in Chicago. Just wait a minute and it’ll change. No one knows that better than my friend, author Brenda Janowitz, who shares with us today how her newest novel was something she never thought would see the light of day, let alone a book shelf, and how she turned it upside down and inside out to meet a need in the market and a desire within herself to see the story published.

Tell us about the novels and idea you’ve tucked away, congratulate Brenda on today’s launch of her newest novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, and welcome her back to WFW!

Amy xo

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Guest Post: Bringing Out-Of-Print Novels Back To Women’s Fiction Readers By Ian Skillicorn

Yesterday, on Harper Lee’s 88th birthday, she announced that To Kill A Mockingbird would be available as an ebook on July 8th. That’s a big deal! And while a little different (because that’s To Kill A Mockingbird, after all) in this era of digital re-publishing, she’s not the only author able to be introduced to readers again via ebook, and exactly what we’re talking about today on WFW (timing is everything, you know?). 

Today in an different kind of guest post, Ian Skillicorn, introduces us to Catherine Gaskin, and the business of bringing out-of-print novels back to readers. Enjoy! (And I totally want my next author photo to look like Catherine Gaskin’s!)

Amy xo

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