This is a question we get a lot. Aspiring authors who have either just decided to write a book or authors who have completed a book and aren’t sure what to do next.
They wonder if they’ll learn how to write on our writing retreats. They wonder if our writing retreats are too advanced for them. Most of all, they wonder what they should do next.
If you are one of these, this post is for you.
Can you teach me how to write?
This is probably the most common writing question we receive. There are definitely techniques and key points that you need to learn in order to get your writing to publishing quality.
However, we cannot teach you to write.
Writing comes from the act of doing. Like learning how to somersault or do a back flip, the principal of try, try, try again is very much applicable to the writing process. Here are some tips from weathered writers:
- Write every day. They say you only become an expert in a subject after reading one million words on that topic. The same goes for writing. The only way you can become a good writer is to write. A lot. Writing every day also serves to build good habits. It ensures you’ll never be a hobbyist writer. You’ll develop a professional habit of working on your craft, your writing, your story every single day.
- Allow your first draft to be horrible. Really, really horrible. Except for Stephen King, no one has a pretty, polished first draft, ready for print. All of us. ALL. OF. US. have horrible, not-ever-to-be-shown-to-anyone first drafts.
- Let the words flow. Don’t get caught up on being a perfectionist in your writing. The important thing is to get the words out on the page. Perfectionism is reserved for the editing stage. I know authors–talented authors–who have never finished a first draft of a story. What they have is fifty beautiful pages of a promising story that they insist is not perfect. They never move past those first fifty pages. It breaks my heart to read their stories because I know, they’ll never be finished.
While we cannot teach you to write on our writing retreats, we can help you deepen your writing craft and teach you different aspects of writing that may be new to you.
I’ve finished my book. How do I get it published?
This is the second most common question we get about writing. This is usually followed up by comments like “My family loved my book!” or “My friends raved about my story!” or “I’ve sent it out to every agent or publisher in the world!”
A word of friendly, loving advice–stop right there.
If you haven’t joined a critique group or allowed an experienced writer to read your writing, you simply are not ready to be published.
Because a fellow writer can offer you unbiased feedback that is–ahem–not colored by love. Other writers have the craft knowledge to pinpoint what is not working about your story. Things like why your characters aren’t relatable or why a scene is falling flat or passive voice or lack of setting. These are all common writing problems that are hard for a reader to point out, but easy for a fellow writer to point out.
Cruising Writers and other writing retreats are great tools to add to your repertoire at this stage. We at Cruising Writers are very good a creating a friendly environment that allows you to build your writing tribe–other like-minded writers who are interested in deepening craft and making connections in the industry to lead to publication.
Here are some tips if you are at this stage:
- Find a local critique group. You can search community boards or local chapters of organizations like SCBWI, RWA, or writing guilds.
- Be open to feedback. If you aren’t open to changing and improving your writing, a critique group will do you no good. It does take some practice to get good at receiving critiques and learning what to take/what to ignore, but it all begins with an open mind and a small ego.
- Take a writing class. Margie Lawson’s Lawson’s Writing Academy is a great place to start. Other author resources like RWA, Savvy Authors, WriterUniv.com are also wonderful places to find month-long online classes for a relatively small fee. Also, look at your favorite author’s websites. Chances are, they offer classes, writing resources, or a blog devoted to the art of writing. Jaye Wells, USA Today Bestselling Author, has a great YouTube video series out that you should definitely check out.
- Go to a writing conference. Writing conferences are great places to learn broad topics about writing and meet a lot of authors, agents, and publishers. In larger cities, you can usually find a wide variety of conference to pick from, depending on the genre you write.
- Go on a writing retreat. Well, you knew that was coming! A writing retreat is a wonderful place to meet other authors and dedicate uninterrupted time to writing. I hold to the belief that writing retreats are essential to the writing life.
Are Cruising Writers Writing Retreats for you?
We offer more than your typical writing retreat.
If you see the value in learning about the writing industry from a bestselling author, our retreats are for you.
If you desire to deepen your craft by learning from world-renown writing craft instructors, our retreats are for you.
If you want to develop a lasting relationship with a top literary agent that could lead to an agency contract, our retreats are for you.
If you are ready to get to know influential editors from publishing houses that will give you insights and connections in the industry, our retreats are for you.
Cruising Writers gives you more than just time away to write. We open doors to your writing career so that you return home, fulfilled and transformed, both in your writing and in yourself.