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Fivers for Writing Every Day

As you can see by today’s topic, I’m going to tell you why should write each and every day. I don’t want to hear any lip from any you. Not a peep. This is one of those crazy “do as I say, not do as I do” kind of post, where I stretch my muscles and provide an ironclad recipe for success. I stand behind this post and these reasons more than I can convey is this short blog.

And here are your five reasons to write every day…

  1. Routine, routine, routine. What you’re doing here is building a good habits. You’ve heard of those people who feel lousy if they don’t make it to the gym, right? Eventually, that’s how you’ll feel if you miss a day of writing because “you didn’t have the time” or “the new season of Top Chef was on Netflix.” There are few acceptable excuses, and you need to get into the habit of writing every day now.
  2. By writing every day, you’re making steady progress in your current project. Even it’s only 100 words a day, that’s 700 words in seven days. That’s 3,000 words in your (average) month. That’s a half a novel in a year, or two novellas, or so and so many short stories. What it is, friends and neighbors, is forward momentum.
  3. Did I just say momentum? I did, and that’s another thing writing every single day nets you: Momentum. Not just in the word count tally column, but more importantly, story momentum. You don’t forget what you were writing or where your scene was going, you can’t just get out of that character’s frame of mind. You’re able to jump back into the writing with only a minimum of interruption, a small out of rereading the prior day’s work. As a sideline note: NEVER EDIT YOUR FIRST DRAFT.
  4. Has anyone ever uttered the phrase “practice makes perfect” around you? I’m sure they have. If you’ve played sports, or an instrument, or just wanted to pwn some n00b in Halo Multiplayer, you had to practice. Sure, you might have had some natural talent or finger dexterity, but that only gets you so far. Same thing with the writing of the words. Talent is a limited stock proposition, and it takes daily work to hone that talent into a skill that’s marketable and therefore bankable.
  5. Last, and maybe this is kind of cheesy considering I’m telling you write every day, but writing each day allows you to take a vacation once in awhile. Well, as much of a vacation as a writer ever takes, but look at it this way: if you’re making steady words, every single day, then when you get sick or the wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/kids have plans that require you to be away from your keyboard, it’s okay. You can assuage that guilt knowing you can afford the day off because you’ve been busting out the words for the last 168 days straight.

There you have it, folks. My five reasons why  you should be writing every day. Questions, comments, hit me!

Fivers for Beta Readers

Let’s chat about beta readers for a hot minute. Some writers use them, some don’t. I fall into the former camp, and quite frankly don’t understand those in the latter. But that’s just me, and here are five reasons why I think every writer should use at least one beta reader.

  1. They’re not you. This is the most obvious reason to use even a single beta reader. They don’t think like you, write like you, read like you, or comprehend like you. Neither do your normal readers. This “second” set of eyes is never (read: never ever) a bad idea.
  2. Beta readers provide a mandatory “away” time. This goes along with the first item. You’re too close to your work, and that’s never truer than after working on a draft for three, four, six, eight months. Even if you only give your beta readers a week, that’s a week your brain takes a vacation from this story.
  3. Also working in conjunction with the first point: beta readers are all different, too. Personally, I use “writer” beta readers and “reader” beta readers. In simple terms, I use both writers I trust and readers (you know, people who love to read but don’t write worth a shit) I trust. Each one brings something unique to the table.
  4. Beta readers can be trained. Well, not really, but my point here is that you can ask specific beta readers to evaluate specific portions of your work. I call this focused feedback, and when used sparingly with the right beta readers, can pinpoint serious trouble spots in your manuscript.
  5. Lastly, and this has little to do with making your book better, but more in the marketing vein: depending on who you’re beta readers are, you can as for book blurbs. Respected editor, author, or book blogger one of your beta readers? Don’t be afraid to ask for a short blurb for the back cover or your website. If your mom is your only beta reader, you’re shit out of luck with number five, but at least points 1-4 are still applicable.

Hit me in the comments with agreements, contrary opinions, or additions to the list!