Sometimes I look at my manuscript and feel I have so much to learn still, so much to do before my work is print worthy, and this awful feeling of hopelessness overcomes me. What am I really doing? Will I ever get it right? And then I start telling myself other authors don’t run into this same problem, do they? Maybe I’m not cut out for this.
And then I go to one of my writing group meetings and realize I’m not the only one to feel this way. Writing is such a solitary experience, yet when you get together with other writers you share all the same questions, concerns, and thoughts.
I love the writing groups I’m a part of. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and my local chapter (OCCRWA) and an online chapter called Faith, Hope & Love (FHLRWA). I’m also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and my local chapter (OCACFW). It’s a lot to keep track of but it’s so important to stay connected with other writers in your genre. In person and online, I’ve met so many wonderful people and learned so much. When I think about the meetings, online classes, and notes I’ve taken over the last three years, I’ve come a long way.
It also makes me realize how important it is to take time to reflect back from where I started and see just how far I’ve come.
I knew nothing of the writing world terminology, yet I now can have a conversation and understand most of the lingo, spouting off terms such as ms, dialogue tags and GMC. I know now, authors don’t get it perfect the first time, sometimes writing through three, four or even more edits after the rough draft.
I’ve learned about understanding your characters more, figuring out what the hero/heroine goals, conflicts and motivations are. I can throw stuff at my characters to see how they will respond. I’ve seen a character take a life of their own and get themselves into a whole heap of trouble. And how fun it is to watch it evolve on the page.
I’ve learned how to set up my website, social media accounts and write my author profile. I’ve figured out my author brand, audience and the genre I prefer to write. I’ve read several new authors, expanding my knowledge both as a reader and a writer.
I’ve entered contests and learned what “on the nose” dialogue is, that passive voice does not mean the same thing as past tense, and to be really careful not to tell but show action and how hard it is to do. I’ve learned my initial writing is full of data dumps and I now can delete words without panicking. I’ve survived receiving constructive feedback and now know, it’s not the end of the world.
As I reflect back, I realize, even though I have so much still to learn, I have come so far and that is something to be really proud of. It’s nice to know I have made many new friends who are rooting for me each step of the way.
I am so thankful for these writing groups and all the wonderful writers who have opened their hearts and minds to share what they’ve learned to us newbies. I look forward to someday being able to do the same in return.
And if you are not a part of a writing group, I encourage you to come visit one of our meetings.
Denise M. Colby
Denise M. Colby loves learning about history and reading fun, uplifting, encouraging stories that cherish and warm the heart. Combining two of her loves, she is working on her first inspirational historical romance, featuring Olivia Carmichael, a young lady who loses everything, including her faith, travels to California to teach and finds love in many different forms along the way. Passionate about all types of stories – whether they are from songs, theatre, movies or novels, Denise loves sharing these passions with her husband and their three boys. You can follow along with Denise on her writing journey at www.denisemcolby.com