Do Not Publish that First Draft

Starting in 1999, National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. It is a good way for writers determined to start or finish their books to hold themselves accountable.

Today (11/30) is the last day of NaNoWriMo. Many of you have met your 50K goal and will have a new book sitting on your table tomorrow. Congratulations are in order. Someone get the wine.

But I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t tell you the truth and the truth is that mess on your table is not ready for publishing.

Hundreds and thousands of writers and aspiring writers will have complete manuscripts by tomorrow (12/1), but these are messy complete manuscripts. They still have to be revised, professionally edited, and formatted. So, please, do not publish that first draft.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, I am republishing this post from 2017.


You have finished your book. This is admirable because so many people never finish. This is an accomplishment worthy of celebration. Congratulations!

But, while this is an accomplishment worth celebrating, you are not done. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.

A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing. After you have finished writing your book, your manuscript is now considered the first draft. It’s called the first draft because it is the first copy of the book ever in existence where you have made no significant changes. It is a rough draft of the story from your mind to the page.

“In any piece of writing, whether a novel manuscript or a blog post, the first draft is also known as a rough draft. From start to finish, it’s technically a complete piece. It has a beginning that moves to a middle that concludes with an ending. But it’s a messy complete piece. There are still thoughts to ground, sentences to be revised for maximum reader engagement, and spelling errors to fix. Which is why a rough draft should never, ever, ever be your final draft.”

– Innovative Editing

Once you have finished the actual writing part, it’s a good idea to let the manuscript sit for a while. Take a few weeks off from the writing and do something else. Then, return to it with fresh eyes to begin your self-edits. This Writer’s Digest article has some excellent tips for self-editing using these 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers.

You may also decide to join a critique group or recruit the help of beta readers before sending it in for editing. And by editing, I don’t mean your English teacher friend. You really should hire a professional editor.

Whatever you decide, the point is to make sure the manuscript is as polished as you can make it before publishing. With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, and other POD (Print on Demand) services, I know it’s easy to upload a Word Document or PDF and say you have written a book, but I implore you not to publish the first draft/rough draft of your book. I promise you, it is not ready.

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Click Here for more Indie Author Basics.

No Whining Wednesday: Celebrate Yourself

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word comes from Michell C. Clark:

I needed to see this quote the other day as I found myself complaining more than usual. Wednesdays have gotten a lot more peaceful for me since I started this series, but I still complain on the other days like the rest of us humans.

The source of my complaint was about the struggle that comes with being a Self-Published author in today’s world. Being an independent artist, in general, is always a challenge. While it’s a challenge I chose to pursue, it does make me sad to struggle for exposure when authors published by traditional publishers release books to citywide book tours and New York Times Best Sellers list. Not to confuse my melancholy at these revelations for a desire to be traditionally published, though I see nothing wrong with it. I am just a woman hoping to make a difference with her work in a way that transcends social media.

“A lot of people won’t celebrate you until your wins feel “big” enough for them.”

I pondered the many ways we do this in society–from rushing out to buy a book recommended by Oprah to not supporting our friends’ “little” business until it becomes a “big” business. There are, sadly, tons of ways we ignore people because it doesn’t seem like what they are doing is a big deal.

“But you can celebrate yourself now. You can be proud of every step you take and every sacrifice you make.”

This is why I post about getting into bookstores and such. It is not to be braggadocious or even make it seem like I am “doing it big,” whatever that means. I do it because I learned years ago the importance of celebrating all wins, not just the ones deemed significant in the eyes of the world.

I have a hope that one day I will not have to count the stores housing my books because they will be everywhere. That vision starts with appreciating where it is now. I know Indie Authors want to be a #1 Amazon Best Seller, but I don’t care much about that. All this online stuff is cool, but I am striving to carve a space out in the real world too.

“And you won’t need other people’s applause to be proud of how far you’ve come.”

This part reminds me of the saying, “you have today what you once prayed for,” or something like that. I don’t remember exactly how it is worded, but it always brings me back. Not only is someone praying for the life you have now, but you once prayed for it too! Isn’t that amazing?

The more we learn to celebrate ourselves, the less discouraged we will be when others don’t see our value, and the less dependent we are on the need to have them acknowledge us.

Today, celebrate yourself. You deserve it even if no one else knows it but you.

PS. I celebrated myself by ordering an expensive Veggie Delight Burger I wouldn’t usually buy but that I had been lusting after for a while. Today, I decided I deserved it. The world will not end if I pay a few extra dollars to eat what I want.

No Whining Wednesday: Gratitude and Faith

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

I don’t have much to write to you today, but I want to share this quote with you. I hope it will inspire you as it did me.

Gratitude and faith are such a great balance to me. One requires that we appreciate all we have, and the other challenges us to believe that what we do not yet have is on the way. We can be both content and consistently striving for better at the same time. This contentment does not become complacency, and this striving does not diminish our humility and appreciation for what is.

When waking up with gratitude and laying down with faith, what is there to complain about?

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author D.L. Heather

 

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Please help me extend a warm welcome to D.L. Heather.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

Hi, my name is Debra, and I was born in Canada, but I live in Detroit now.

Oh, cool. Detroit in the house. Are you employed outside of writing?

No, writing is my life. Before writing books, I was a contributor and columnist for various magazine outlets.

Awesome! What was your childhood dream?

To walk into a bookstore and see my books on the shelves. As a child, all I wanted was to write. I was never without a pen and a notebook. 

That’s so cool because I have a similar story. Always had me a notebook or journal.

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Let’s talk about writing. Tell us about publishing your first book. What was that like?

My first book, Metamorphosis, was published in 2018. Indescribable – it’s not a word we writers like to admit to. Surely, there is an adjective or simile for every eventuality, and yet here I am using it to describe the feeling of holding my book for the first time. The writing process is a long journey of transformation, from a single idea to months of writing, innumerable coffees, countless revisions. And now it’s a physical thing I can hold in my hands. Like I said – indescribable.

I love how you described that process!

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Debra, what takes up too much of your time?

I find building my brand on social media platforms the biggest time-consumer. I’d rather be writing, haha.

For sure. What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie? 

My favorite TV show is Sons of Anarchy. Movie, hmm, that’s a tough one, I have many but I would say Training Day is up there at the top of the list.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing? 

The most difficult thing about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them (sometimes they’re right but not always). That’s the truth–and as the artist, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Be prepared–before you’ve even finished the story, even, you can see it in their eyes that they are full of wonder. It’s about them, isn’t it. Yes! It is! It has to be! There’s no way it’s not! 

The most exciting thing about being a writer to me is it doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, poem, or a journal entry, writing helps let the demons out. We have to deal with complex emotions and a good way to understand them (in a healthy way) is to have a creative outlet—like, writing, music, or art. Writing is great because you can literally put down on paper how you feel. It’s cathartic at the time, and in my experience, later on when you read it. It’s a reminder of how you felt and what you thought at a point in time and how you dealt with it.

What genre do you write in, why?

Poetry and nonfiction. I’ve used my writing not just for my personal creative gain but in the hopes that maybe I could write something someday that would help people get through tough times. Maybe I could write something that would make a difference in another person’s life.

I knew you were a poet by how you answered that one question!

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In your own words, what is love?

To me, love is just a word and one I don’t use that freely. Because love is scary, it’s basically giving someone a map of all your flaws and imperfections and putting faith in them to not abuse that power. And that can be so beautiful, but it can also be brutal! Love can make you do the hardest thing a human could ever do, be vulnerable.

That is a very interesting way of putting it.

Why is writing important to you?

Writing keeps me whole. Writing keeps me sane. I’m not that great at expressing myself in person. Still, when I write, I feel like I can get all of my ideas down without interruption, without influence from someone’s body language, without fear of what someone will think of me if I stumble over my words while I’m forming a thought (which happens more than I would like to admit). Writing has always been my outlet. My writing is so closely linked to my personal experiences, regardless of what it is that I’m writing. It’s a way for me to process things and understand myself. It’s a way for me to escape the restrictions of my own life (such as grief, heartbreak, and childhood trauma). It allows me to feel free again. 

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Thank you, Debra, for spending this time with us.We enjoyed you!


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Copyright © D.L. Heather

 

D.L. Heather is the pen name for poet, writer, and former music journalist Debra Heather. She has a B.A. in English and is the author of the inspirational poetry collections Life Interrupted and Metamorphosis.

Writing came into her life in her teens through therapy and the exploration of healing through journaling. Her writing is motivated by her experiences with childhood trauma, love, loss, healing, heartbreak, and self-discovery.

She prefers to let her work speak for itself, a private person by nature, in the way poetry allows her to. She hopes to inspire others and reinforce the fact that you are not alone.

When she isn’t writing in her studio, she enjoys traveling, reading, movies and gardening. Her book, Petals of Healing, will be available in December 2021. 

Be Sure to Follow D.L. online!

Website: www.dlheatherbooks.net

Instagram: @author.dlheather

Twitter: @AuthorDLHeather

COMING DECEMBER 3, 2021

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Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.

No Whining Wednesday – You Are Inherently Worthy

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

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How other people view you is not a measurement of your worthiness. Both online and off, good decision or bad decision, right or wrong, your value does not change.

A Quick Story.

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When I first moved to Georgia in 2017, I enrolled in Argosy University, Atlanta. This was before Covid, so I had on and offline classes. In one of my campus classes, we always did these exercises. In one activity, we were talking about hot personality, cold personality, and warm. We had to say which one we thought we were and why. A few of my classmates mentioned I was cold. This perplexed me because we had not known each other that long. When they said it, most of the class agreed.

I went home feeling down. Their words had seeped into my soul, and I questioned what made them think I was a cold-hearted person. Had I done something to them? Did I offend anyone? Had they heard something about me?

Then, I thought back to my childhood and realized this wasn’t anything new. I remember being told my twin would be a bride for Halloween and that I would be the devil. As a kid, I remembered thinking, “the devil?”

I laugh at it now, but it affected my self-esteem and how I thought of myself back then. This was not the only time, someone had also decided I would be a witch years prior. “A witch?” I remembered thinking. It was weird to me because my sister was some kind of animal. If we are twins, why am I a witch and she’s a cute kitten?

I was always referred to as “the mean twin,” and it affected how I felt about myself.

Going home after that class made me think of all these things, and I questioned if I was a good person.

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What I’ve realized since then is how we tend to tie our self-worth to other people. We look at the way others perceive us, and we measure ourselves up to that image. That person doesn’t like me, so I am not a good person, or that person admires me, so I am a good person. This is especially true in the age of social media. This person I admire didn’t like my post, so I guess it wasn’t a good post, or this person did like it, so I guess it was good.

All of this is a lie.

The same worthiness you have when people think highly of you, or when you are winning and making the right choices, and being the best version of yourself is the same worthiness you still have when people think of you in a negative light, when you make mistakes, or when you are not your best self.

There is one truth, and it is the only truth that matters:

You are inherently worthy.

This worth does not need to be earned or won or acknowledged to exist. You have value and purpose the moment you enter this world. As the scripture says, “before I formed you in your mother’s belly I knew you, and I did set you apart.” (Jer. 1:5)

How other people perceive this set-apartness does not determine if it exists. It is there and was there from the very beginning.

No Whining Wednesday – We Are Each Other’s Harvest

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

This week, I kept thinking about teamwork, network, and community. As such, I was inspired by the following quote from Gwendolyn Brooks.

IMG-4242I did something different this week. I asked my audience on Instagram what the quote meant to them. This was part of my quest for us to be each other’s harvest. As a result, I got a lot of good feedback, and I want to share some of it with you.

But first, a little history:

Gwendolyn Brooks poem from which this quote derives is about the Black singer, and activist Paul Robeson. In fact, the poem is called Paul Robeson.

“The poem from which the text ‘we are each other’s is drawn is one example of Brooks’s commitment to civil rightsa poem she wrote in testament to Paul Robeson. Robeson was a Black actor and activist, a famous baritone who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for his political commitments. Brooks celebrates his leadership at his death writing, “That time, we all heard it…The major Voice. The adult Voice…warning, in music-words devout and large that we are each other’s harvest: we are each other’s business: we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”  – Interfaith Youth Core

Gwendolyn Brooks was a poet whose family moved from Topeka, Kansas, to Chicago during the Great Migration, the massive movement of Blacks from the south to northern cities. Brooks loved Chicago, as I do, and she drew on her experiences in the city to tell the stories of Black urban communities. Brooks called Chicago her “Home Base.”

“We are each other’s
harvest:
we are each other’s
business:
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Gwendolyn Brooks lived these words, becoming the first Black Pulitzer prize winner, the Poet Laureate of Illinois, the Poet Laureate Consultant for the Library of Congress, and the first African American woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts. She also dedicated time to teaching the next generation of artists in Chicago.

We Are Each Other’s Harvest

In farming, a harvest is a season for gathering crops. (Come on, Queen Sugar fans) One of the reasons I felt this was such a powerfully timely quote is because Fall is harvest season:

“Harvesting is the process of gathering ripe crops, or animals and fish, to eat. While not all crops are ready for harvest in the Fall, apples, winter squashes like pumpkins and acorn squash, and potatoes are!”

– American Farm Bureau for Agriculture

If we are each other’s harvest, we nurture one another. In that spirit of collaboration, we can illustrate the lyrics of this poem by supplying one another with the strength we gather from the positive words of others.

That’s what No Whining Wednesday is about, working together to cut down on our complaints and criticisms by adopting a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness.

Here are some of my favorites from the post, and I would love to hear what you think of the quote as well!

Take it away, guys!

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No Whining Wednesday – Struggles and Strength

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Our poets are preparing for their interviews, so we have time to squeeze in an NWW. Today’s inspiring word comes from yours truly:

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Chicago, Summer, 1997

EC is ten years old, and that dollar she got for having a good report card is burning a hole in her pocket. She really wanna get ice cream from the ice cream truck singing down the street. But first, she’ll have to get rid of these toys. You see, EC and her twin had a habit of bringing all their barbies outside so they could play with their friends down the street. As the sky grew darker and the street lights came on, EC thought she’d run across the street, buy the ice cream and be back before mama started yelling. It was the perfect plan.

“Hold my toys.”

“But mama said it’s time to come in the house,” her twin whined.

EC rolled her eyes. “Girl, just hold my stuff.”

But EC never made it to that ice cream truck. She was hit by a car just seconds after dashing across the street.

The good news is she lived, which is how she’s writing this right now. But her seemingly simple act of rebellion would have a lifetime impact.

Back to 2021

Last week, I got caught in the rain, and I mean, I got soaked.

I went home, made dinner, and all was well until later that night when my leg started to ache. It wasn’t a big deal to me because I am used to it. Plus, I expected to feel some pain in my thigh because of the rain.

When the car hit me, it broke the bone in my thigh. It was not repairable and in its place is a steel plate I’ll live with for the rest of my life. But what’s this got to do with the rain?

Metal in the body can irritate a nearby tendon or other soft tissues or cause minor to severe pain related to weather changes, especially when many years have gone by and the metal is infused with the body. This is because metal implants transfer heat and cold better than human tissue.

“In other words, while joint conditions may not physically worsen, the pain can seem more intense. Occasionally there is some aching around the scar, which can become worse in cold weather…this is more common with patients who have a metal implant.”

Dr. Tuvi Mendel of Quad City-based Orthopedic Specialist

People with metal implants might feel the cold more in the implant area during lower temperatures. Some people are also affected by the rain.

“Most often, weather-related pain occurs in injured joints or at the site of a previously broken bone. While scientists aren’t entirely sure exactly what causes pain when it rains, it is known to be related to barometric pressure. The barometric pressure drops when storms are rolling in, and somehow, the body detects this change, causing swelling of soft tissue or expansion of the joint fluid. These changes in the collection are what ultimately lead to pain.”

https://aica.com/why-do-past-injuries-hurt-when-it-rains/

The most common way we know how struggle strengthens us is when exercising and how our muscles respond to growing challenges. But what’s less obvious is how this same principle applies to the mind. We pray for strength, but we don’t always realize that we are also asking for a struggle.

Stay with me.

Strength does not fall out of the sky. It is the result of overcoming something difficult. Anytime those struggles arrive in our lives, we can activate the willpower to overcome, which builds mental strength.

Every painful experience offers us a chance to develop emotional fortitude.

That summer, I couldn’t go outside unless someone carried me or I used my walker. You might be wondering about a wheelchair. I couldn’t use that because they used surgical staples that went from just about my knee until the end of my thigh.

Because of this, I did not wear a cast but a self-adhering wrap was wrapped around my entire right leg, from my thigh, where the staples were down to my feet. I was blessed not to have to endure the itchiness of the cast, and my skin could breathe when we changed the wrap, but I also could not bend my leg for weeks.

This is exactly how my wrap looked.

When I say we think it’s our wins that make us stronger, but it’s really our struggles, I mean that challenges and struggles are an opportunity to become wiser. We all need encouragement, and it feels good to be acknowledged for our accomplishments. Praise has its place, but it’s the struggle that grows us.

If everything is always easy, you won’t know how to function when things fall apart. As the saying goes, “the man who falls seven times and stands up eight is stronger than the person who has never fallen.”

Consider the standing in the grocery line longer than expected example. This is an opportunity to be patient. Who knows the next time you will need this skill? These abilities are developed the more they are used.

I always hated math as a kid, but I like that it challenged me mentally. The very fact that it was “hard” is why I needed to do more of it.

By the way, Firefox crashed after I wrote this. I had to wait like ten minutes for everything to start back up. The computer decided it would take its precious time, and I felt myself getting irritated. Then, it crashed again only the second time I was not as annoyed. Apparently, I need more patience.