Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG: Anyone Have a Life Preserver?


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I don't feel "smart" anymore. 

I was once knowledgable about my craft, my career. Back in the day, I hunkered down in the library to study Publishers Weekly and other reference materials. I subscribed to writing magazines, read them cover to cover. I diligently followed guidelines, included self-addressed stamped envelopes in every submission, and bit my nails in a weird combination of dread and excitement when I went to the mailbox. Yes, I was on top of things.

Now, every time I turn around, something new! and necessary! and urgent! screams at me from the writing world. Genres and categories burst into being like popcorn in a microwave. No one leaves two spaces after a period anymore. Ebooks are the new paperbacks. Social media options spread like some wild, rampant vine, sprouting branches and leaves every five minutes. 

I can't keep up! I'm drowning in information. I grab at jetsam, float safely for a moment, only to have it sink from under me, leaving me floundering again. 

I don't want to be a curmudgeon or a Luddite, but how do I know what I need to know? How do you all handle the deluge of craft and publishing information out there? Do you feel smart and on top of things or are you drowning alongside me? 

57 comments:

  1. I used to feel smart too, but I've decided this writing world is now a waterfall pouring into an ocean of possibilities, and you have to cling very carefully to a chosen tributary or get buried in the spray. It's definitely a larger world than it used to be.

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  2. I never tried to be smart when it comes to writing. I think like anything in life, it's constantly changing. Fashion, technology, medicine...there's no way to keep up, so I just look for what I need when I need it. If I fill my brain too much, I'm afraid it'll explode.

    Loni

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    2. That might be part of my problem - EVERYTHING, not just writing, changes so quickly. It's incredibly overwhelming.

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  3. I'm pretty reactive to everything, whereas before, you could kind of see things coming. I remember when Writer's Digest and their huge Writer's Market reference books were pretty much it, along with Publisher's Weekly. Now we're being hit from all directions. It's crazy.

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    1. We really are being hit from all directions. And I loved those Writer's Market books - they made me feel like a "real" writer. :)

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  4. I feel like I'm partially drowning. I have a floating device, but it's rapidly loosing air. I know what I know and that helps me keep afloat, but all the new information and publishing ways are creating bigger waves around me. For the most part, I pay attention to what I need to know and let everything else sail past me while I bob in its wake.

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    1. I hope your flotation device gets more air soon! I need to get better at letting more things sail past me....

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  5. Amen, sister. I keep a list of things I should be doing or trying but before I get through the list there are more things added. I keep hearing I should be doing more in LinkedIn. What???? When I get overwhelmed I sit down and work on my next WIP and try to forget about it.

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    1. I think you've hit on a key idea! If we throw ourselves into our writing - honing the craft, developing the story, getting lost in the characters, etc - all that extra stuff, the unimportant stuff, the noise, will fall away on its own. :)

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  6. Madeline, I am drowning alongside you. And I don't feel smart anymore :(

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that, although it's nice to have company. :)

      Maybe some of the great comments here will help you, too.

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  7. It can definitely seem overwhelming, but I try to look at it as a good thing. I still want to try the traditional publishing route, but if that doesn't work out, I can try self-publishing. It just means we have more options.

    Sarah Foster
    August IWSG Co-host

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    1. Now that's a positive way to look at it - it just means "we have more options." :)

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  8. Popcorn in the microwave! I'm going to remember that.
    I know, it's overwhelming at times. Just keep up with what you can and don't worry about the rest.

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  9. I'm totally overwhelmed by all of it as well. And I think the fact that we are both natural introverts makes it more difficult. All the things I'm told we "have" to do on social media seem like torture to me.

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    1. I think you're absolutely right that being natural introverts makes it more difficult.

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  10. The game keeps changing. I meet with a group of local writer woman every month for lunch and we chat about it. It helps. A bunch of us are publishing and we compare notes. I'd be much more lost without them.

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    1. It sounds like you and the members of your group are each other's life preservers. :)

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  11. Yeah, all the change are overwhelming. I stay pretty non-existent on social networks. I thought writers were supposed to be anti-social. Now we have to TALK to people? Grr. I'm only half-joking.

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    1. Ha! I hear you. But blogging and the like is my kind of talking. I'm better at this than I am at face to face.

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  12. I think this is why I keep up with blogging. It's a slower way to stay abreast of things in the publishing world, as well as keeping up connections with other writers. Twitter is too overwhelming and fast. I like it but blogging goes at a more liveable pace.

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    1. I never really thought about it that way! It really is a "slower" way to stay connected. Maybe a more in depth one as well?

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  13. I keep up with as much as I'm able, take what works for me, and try not to worry too much about the rest. But then, I'm self-published, so mostly I focus on pleasing my readers (as opposed to agents and publishers, etc.). It's a process for all of us, and there's always going to be something we wished we'd know. Just keep growing and doing the best you can.

    IWSG #184 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. "Just keep growing and doing the best you can" is excellent advice! Thanks! :)

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  14. Right beside you girl, doing my best to tread water, but feeling it doesn't matter how well I write, because I'll never be able to swim the the publicity sharks. Notice my two spaces here! I think, if I ever get close to being published, I may have to take a course in self-marketing. There are things like "Launch Labs" you can take part in.

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    1. I know you will be published, and you'll be okay swimming with those sharks - you won't be alone in those waters. :)

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    2. HaHa! It does get a bit confusing. Join a writing group online to share in all this stuff. It helps. Then just go with what feels right and do what you can :) Good Luck!

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  15. I'm drowning alongside you! Every time I think I understand something, it up and changes. We're in constant motion of trying to keep up. Sigh. Thank goodness for our fellow writers who we can reach out to right? Even if we're in the same boat of survival, we'll keep each other going and that's a good thing. :)

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    1. And maybe, when one of us is drowning, the others can lift us out of the water and into the boat. :)

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  16. I guess because I came into writing while all this change was happening it seems normal to me. Mailing a MS? In the snail mail? That's crazy to me!

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  17. I never known anything different than how it is now, and I feel very thankful that there is such a wealth of information and people are so readily available and willing to answer questions and help each other out. But I can imagine how it would be daunting, adjusting to this new world of publishing and social media after having already learned the ropes another way!

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    1. It really is great to have so many wonderful people ready and willing to help. :)

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  18. It's all changing rapidly. Yep, there's a heck of a lot of info out there and some of it is even contradictory. But we can't embrace it all. The best thing you can do is keep reading lots--recent books especially--and keep writing lots. Don't give up on the writing.

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    1. I'm not sure I could give up writing if I tried. :)

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  19. If it weren't for my writing group, I'd be dead in the water. The collective minds of that group are a huge asset!

    Good luck!

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  20. I totally feel the same way! Drowning. I even started to go through my MS the other day to take out all the double spaces behind the periods. Then I figured... whatever. If an agent likes it, I'm sure s/he can look past that. At least I hope. :)

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    1. If the story grabs an agent, I wouldn't think a couple of extra spaces after a period would stop them from wanting your novel. :)

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  21. I'm drowning, too. I just try my best to keep my head above water. It's certainly overwhelming.

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  22. I just count my blessings that I live in interesting times, that online research opportunities save me a ton of time, and that I have choices in social media. I don't have to do it all. I've picked blogging, Facebook (personal page), Twitter, a few Yahoo! Groups, and Google+ as my favorites, but I've learned (finally) to limit my time on each.

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    1. This is a very good way to look at things - "I just count my blessings that I live in interesting times...."

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  23. I think it's always changed...we just are expected to know about it now. Back in the 70s, you'd be forgiven for mailing a manuscript in poor condition with words marked through to a publishing house. People got the addresses for publishing houses out of published books in that line back then. Crazy!

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    1. I wonder how things will work 20 years from now...?

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  24. I'm focusing on the writing and planning to diversify, doing what I can to trad pub, especially via the short story markets, and continuing (procrastinating) working on those novel manuscripts. I guess I think you can't go wrong if you keep working on your craft and getting stuff out there?

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    1. Improving our craft is incredibly important to whatever we decide to do publishing-wise.

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  25. I used to feel the way you do- and I still do, at times. But I sometimes notice the contradictions that come up in the must-know information areas. So that means that sometimes must-know info isn't really must-know info.

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  26. I know what you mean, Madeline. Focus on this: You are a talented writer. Get your work in front of as many editors/agents as possible. Keep writing your inspiring and honest blog posts. Fads will fade. True talent will remain.

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  27. Oh I feel the same way. So much information to process, I think what keeps my head above the water is that when the time comes, I may not know all the answers, but I know where to find them. Writing buddies, and the online writing community are here to help and are truly a generous bunch. Don't get overwhelmed, just write, write and write on. :)

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    1. Such a great point about knowing where to find the answers when we're overwhelmed with questions. :)

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