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  1. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Ohio, USA

    A Writer Needs to be an Optimist

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by TWErvin2, Jan 1, 2010.

    I thought this would be a good place and time to share my initial 2010 blog post here, as I think it is on target for most writers... (sorry, can't figure out how to properly insert the pic of Winston Churchill)

    A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” –-Winston Churchill

    Considering this quote, a writer, I think, must lean more towards being an optimist as opposed to a pessimist.

    Why? Consider the time and effort it takes to research, outline, write, revise, edit and submit a novel, realizing that the odds are very much against successfully getting one’s work in print, discounting self-publication—especially for first-time authors. And listing the terms “research, outline, write, revise, edit and submit” really glosses over what goes into the process.

    Research: Online, in libraries, viewing relevant documentaries and programs, and talking with experts, all the time taking notes and seeking accuracy. Sometimes hours can be spent looking into one small aspect or event that takes up no more than a paragraph or two in the context of an entire novel. Will it matter? To most readers, probably not, but to some it will. Consider the fact that minor gaffs and inaccuracies add up, potentially affecting more and more readers. And before the novel has a chance to reach the first potential reader, its contents must be deemed accurate and reliable with agents and editors who often specialize and are well-read in the areas/genres they represent or edit.

    Outline: Writers often debate whether an outline is necessary. I believe having one is important when planning and writing a novel, but that is a topic for a different post. Still, consider that despite all the work put into an outline, it will be altered—possibly beyond recognition from the original product.

    Write: Say an average novelist can fit in enough time to write 1000 words a day. In my experience that is a high estimate considering many writers have day jobs, families and other responsibilities. Even so, 1000 words a day on average translates to 2-3 hours of writing. Getting 1000 words in five days a week comes to about five months and over 250 hours invested in just the first draft.

    Revise: That entails re-reading the novel, in sections or as a whole, while taking notes. Then going back and fixing plot holes, eliminating dead end plot lines, fixing and refining dialogue, working on characterization, description, pacing and many other aspects that make a novel worth reading. Consider the ripple effect where making one change, such as moving a scene where the protagonist meets with an informant and learns a vital clue earlier in the novel, can affect some of the motivations, actions, and dialogue as previously written. The revision process is not a onetime event. A novel will go through multiple revisions, each one smoothing out the identified flaws.

    Edit: Sometimes catching typos and grammar gaffs occurs during the writing and revision process. That said, every time a revision pass is made, typos and other minor issues can creep into the prose. Beyond that, catching tense errors, maintaining consistency in names, places and events, rewording passive sentence structures, ensuring clarity in pronoun use (antecedents) and attribution of dialogue, and of course punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and many other concerns are part of the process. While the number of editing passes can be tied to the number of major revisions, figure on at least three or four time-consuming, detail-oriented passes.

    Submit: This aspect of the writing process requires far more than printing out and mailing a novel to the first editor or agent one stumbles across online. Researching agents and markets takes time and consideration. Sending a query or submission package to a poorly matched or inappropriate market, results in a waste of time and resources. Writing targeted query and cover letters takes time. Creating a synopsis? Many writers believe it is easier to write an entire novel than to write a brief synopsis. And then there is the waiting once a query (or queries), a partial and/or the full manuscript has been submitted.

    The entire process can take several years, or more, and in the end there is no guarantee for success. Odds are very high against success. Some sources estimate as few as ½ of one percent of novels written and submitted ever reach publication. That includes novels written and submitted by established authors as well as those trying to break in with their debut novel.

    What to do during the wait? Be optimistic considering the difficulty the opportunity writing a novel presents and start the process all over again with another novel.


    Good luck to all the writers here at writingforums.org! Wishing you the best of success in reaching your goals in 2010!

    3 people like this.
  2. DragonGrim

    DragonGrim Contributing Member

    Oct 3, 2008
    Likes Received:
    I’m a pessimist most of the time, but I went through all those steps. Oh, it was arduous. Of course I’m probably an exception to the rule. Or maybe my elusive optimistic side helped me through it.

    I got one really fast rejection from an agent. I don’t know if it is a good sign that the other four are taking their sweet time.
  3. hiddennovelist

    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

    Feb 25, 2009
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    Fabulous Sin City
    Great post, Terry. :)

    I really like that quote. And I agree-I think to some degree, at least, writers are optimists. Otherwise, why would they go into a trade that they know will be a struggle?
  4. fantasy girl

    fantasy girl Contributing Member

    Apr 15, 2009
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    Thanks Terry, thats going to help loads. xx
  5. NaCl

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Apr 30, 2008
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    I don't agree with you. I feel a writer must be, first and foremost, delusional! LOL

    Said delusion allows for suspension of reality during arduous hours of planning, writing, editing and waiting for submission results. The nicest thing about delusions is that they spawn belief in Never Never Never Land...never stop writing, never stop editing, never give up hope. Ah yes, give me a good delusion any day...that and plenty of jelly beans to fuel my writing between meals!
  6. Newnonel

    Newnonel New Member

    Jan 1, 2010
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    Lol! :D Yeah. Never give up hope sticks with me. Though I like never giving up your dreams better. :]
  7. x_raichelle_x

    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

    Apr 5, 2009
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    Hartlepool, UK
    Thanks for that Terry! This is a post I think I'll come back to when I can feel myself procrastinating haha.

  8. Gone Wishing

    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

    May 1, 2008
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    Well, I know I can tick that box... I'm pretty sure that the box contains optimism, too. Plus, with the delusion, it also has lots of chocolates.
  9. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Dec 1, 2008
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    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    I'd say I'm a fairly pessimistic person, but luckily for my writing (and unluckily for my family, maybe) at the same time I'm incredibly obstinate. This has seen me through many of the trouble areas the OP mentions. Happy delusions, everyone!

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