Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for...

Listen.

Listen to published authors when they have something to tell you, because they know what they're talking about. They can provide you with valuable information. Don't scoff, even if something they say sounds weird; there's a reason they're saying it. Example: An author I met at the conference last year told me I should make the effort to attend a romance conference (I don't remember which one). She writes urban fantasy. I scoffed. Why? Because I don't read romance and I certainly don't intend to write romance. She pointed out that there are often elements of romance in all different kinds of books. Guess what? She was right. I wasn't far enough in my novel yet to truly get it. I had no idea how hard writing the relationship portions was going to be. Now I know, and I kept wishing I knew something about it, because I felt a tad uncomfortable writing anything that was in any way romantic or having to do with interpersonal relationships between male and female. More accurately, I felt squicky about it. Given, I am not in a position to be running around to a bunch of conferences--it took quite a few hours on ChaCha to make the money to go to the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference this year--but it was still very valid advice, and if I have the opportunity at this conference or another gathering to learn about writing romance/interpersonal relationships, I'm there. I won't scoff again.

Listen to unpublished authors when they're speaking from experience. They're learning, just like you and me, and we learn from getting out there, making mistakes, having experiences. Share those experiences and build on them.

Listen to agents when they talk. Don't get offended when they criticize. Take in the information and use it to make your work better. If you get a response to your query with feedback, that is a positive step (unless said feedback is something like, "Please do us all a favor and never write another word," in which case that could be a problem). There are good rejections and bad rejections (or so I've been told), and good rejections hopefully come with feedback and/or after having been asked to submit more of your novel. I'm not saying to not fight for your novel; I'm just saying to take in constructive criticism from those in the know and mull it over a bit.

Listen to yourself. When you have ideas, when you want to write or when you need a break. If something doesn't feel right in what you're writing/reading, chances are you need to change something. If you've read your own novel 20,000 times and can't bring yourself to care, listen and take a break. Give it a week or so and come back to it.

Listen to the voices in your head (unless they're telling you to do naughty things, in which case you should probably ignore them). Those voices are your muse.

Listen to those who critique your work for you. This does not mean you have to make every single change they suggest, but it does mean giving their words a fair shake and a neutral ear, as hard as it may be to have your baby criticized. It's especially important to listen when several different readers have the same feedback. Chances are, those who purchase your book later will see the same problems.

Of course, listening is easy. Accepting it is a whole new animal, and one I'll be working on right along with everyone else.

Did I miss anything? Who else should we be learning from? How are you at listening?

Happy Writing!

12 comments:

  1. Good advice. I try to listen and take stuff on board (just gets a bit confusing when everyone's talking at the same time).
    regards
    mood
    Moody Writing

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  2. Excellent post and advice. I think it's only in the last few years that I've been really able to stop just hearing and start listening.

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  3. Good point about listening to yourself then coming back later to revisit. I do this often. If i can't use the idea now II put it in my Junkyard for possible use later.

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  4. Great advice. Another part of listening to yourself is learning from your mistakes so that you can avoid making them again in the future.

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  5. Wonderful advice, thanks for sharing this. I especially loved the difference between listening and accepting, accepting is definitely more difficult. Great post!

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  6. No actual response to this post; it's that good. :)
    I'm throwing an award at you. Stop by and check it out. :)

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  7. Wonderful post, Shannon. Amazing how much we, as writers, grow year after year, isn't it? And a vast majority of it just by listening. I want to definitely encourage you, not just because I myself write romance, but because your writer friend really is onto something, to attend a romance writer's conference. The people are super friendly, eager to help and learn about you and what you write. And they'll remember you. That, to me, is key.

    Cheers! :)

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  8. Wow very good post! And very good advice! You are a wonderful writer!

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  9. Mood, no doubt!

    Carole, thank you!

    Paul, thank you! It's hard to take the criticism and use it for change. I'm by no means saying I'm there, but I'm working on it.

    Stephen, your junkyard, I like that.

    Angeline, excellent point, and also hard to do.

    Julie, thank you!

    Andrew, thanks! I'll have to pass it on tomorrow. Thank you for the honor!

    Alyssia, sounds wonderful. We do have a local romance writer's group, so I need to look into that.

    Lydia, thank you!

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  10. Listening is a powerful thing!

    Stopping by from the A-Z challenge,and i am a new follow. cheers.

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  11. Exactly advice! I do believe listening is becoming a lost art. Listening is confused with a requirement to approve, believe or act on everything you hear. In fact it doesn't always have anything to do with the listener.

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