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Professionalism in Writing

Professional writers are those who are paid for their work. An amateur is someone who writes but doesn’t get paid for it. Hobbyists spend some spare time doing what they enjoy. In this case, we’re talking about writing. Most writers don’t make enough money on their book sales to do nothing but write. However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t write professionally.

What does it take to operate at a professional level? First, learn as much as you can about the writing craft. Second, treat your writing as a profession. Third, use a good editor and take the time to draft and re-draft your manuscripts.

The most difficult part of writing professionally is the tedious process of polishing your writing before publication. It’s not my favorite part of the process. I’ve realized that it’s okay not to like the last little detail polishing but it isn’t okay not to do it. This is one of the main things that separates the professional and the amateur.

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How important is editing before you send a manuscript to an editor or agent? How important is editing if you self-publish on Kindle, Smashwords or for any e-book forum?

It’s the difference between having your best work published or just what ever you wrote down as you thought about it. I’m not criticizing or putting anyone down for their writing, but it’s important that authors maintain quality, not just quantity. The process of writing takes a dedication to learning the craft and working to improve your that writing. I believe that we should never stop learning.

The editing process begins with self-editing your work. It’s best to just write your story and get it out. Then, go back and start editing for content, flow, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Develop and expand the weak places in your story. Be willing to take parts out that do not advance the plot. Use grammar check to help locate passive voice and replace it with strong active verbs.

This is where you start. Take the time to edit and realize that many writers take five to ten drafts to get to the final manuscript that actually goes to print. Participate in critique groups. They will help you in the process. Get a good editor to review your work before submitting it.



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Tuesday Writing Tips

Don’t forget to check out the Adventures in Words Newsletter first issue.

Do you struggle with remembering all those punctuation rules you learned back in high school? Get a copy of the MLA Style book or Strunk & White’s book, The Elements of Style . They are excellent resources to keep in your home library. Another book I’d recommend that is entertaining to read and is a great source about punctuation in Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

Do everything you can as you’re re-writing and polishing your writing to use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. These books are great tools. Grammar check and spell check have a place in the process, but they don’t replace taking the time and diligence to read carefully through your writing and making the changes. Then, get a good editor to go through your manuscript, short story, or article. An editor catches things you’ll miss.

It saves a lot of time in the long run and should make the trip from manuscript to publishing smoother and faster. If you are self-publishing in print or Ebooks, then getting a good, experienced editor to go through your work first will save you some embarrassment later. We all want our very best work in front of readers.

It can be a tedious process and re-writes are not nearly as fun as that first draft as it floods out onto the screen. But, if we want to be authors, then that’s part of the road we travel. The last details are the hardest to get through, but it’s worth it.

Good luck on your writing over the next week. Please come back for Tuesday Tips next week. I also welcome comments and tips from all of you.

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45 Days After NaNoWriMo

I know that a lot of you participated in NaNoWritMo this past November. National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel (first draft) during the month of November. Over 300,000 people participated, world-wide in 2010. Some succeeded and reached their goal of at least 50,000 words, others only made it part way. Hurray for everyone that participated.

Some participants say “I couldn’t believe that I could do it, at first. Then, I knew I couldn’t just stop along the way. I had to finish it and the best thing is that you learn you can do it.” Once you do it you can do it again.

I’m working on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm edits.

If you’re like a lot of us, we’re working our way through editing and re-writes so we can submit the manuscript and get it published. I’m working on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm editing. Good luck with your books.  Please join me in a discussion on how we’re all doing.