#7 Get a great critique group. Or two.
I have a weekly critique group of local writers. We meet on Monday nights, and I can’t even begin to tell you how valuable that has been for me. I’ve learned about writing, but I’ve also received encouragement to follow the rules above. After a while, I learn to edit myself. I can almost predict what Steve or Carolyn is going to say about a chapter I’ve brought. I’m also a member on CritiqueCircle.com where I can branch out and get feedback from several other authors, and help break off even more rough edges that my Monday night crew has become used to.
Despite the stereotype, writing is not performed in an isolated environment. It takes twice as much input to produce quality work.
It is true that the group is rough. They need to be. Any group that just complements you and sends you home is only hampering you and making you a weak, ineffective, useless writer. It is the tough love that makes you stronger and hones your skills. Be willing to take the criticism (not verbal abuse, but constructive information on what works and what doesn’t in your story) with a smile and really process information from respectable sources.
I say “respectable” because every group has a few members that think they know everything, but in reality they know next to nothing. Keep in mind that this input is still very valuable. But sometimes you have to mine the nuggets of valuable information out of mountains of other rubbish. The time spent mining those nuggets is still worth it.
Then we have the seasoned veterans that are willing to give you priceless feedback on your story from years of personal experience. Soak this up like a sponge. Trust me when I say, you can not get enough of it. This information is worth more than you will ever know. Yes, it may be hard to hear at the time, but it will pay out a hundred-fold if you will just listen to it and put some of those bits into practice in your works.
You don’t have to implement everything that is mentioned in your groups. You are the author, and you always have to remember that. But the more feedback you can get, the more you will know what parts of your story needs to change, what parts need to stay the same, and which parts need to be cut completely out.
The process is hard and painful, but it is worth it.