Practice will get you published
Practice, practice practice. That’s what it takes to be a published writer, says author Anjali Banerjee.
“It’s good to go to the end,” she says. “If you don’t write a manuscript from beginning to end, you might get stuck on the first chapter, rewriting the beginning ad nauseum. Or you might ditch the manuscript altogether and start another one for whatever reason — fear of failure, fear of success, or a difficult problem with the storyline.”
Banerjee has made it to the end of nine published books (and two unpublished ones). Enchanting Lily, her most recent novel, is about a young widow who’s content to hide out in her vintage clothing shop on a Pacific Northwest island until a cat runs in and turns her life upside down. For a deleted scene told from the cat’s point of view, read Banerjee’s guest post at Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries, and More.
Banerjee offers insight and tips for writers:
You have to tolerate writing something imperfect. The beauty of writing a manuscript is that it can be changed, scenes can be moved around. There is a sense of wonder and possibility in that. It often turns out that once I’m done with a manuscript, a scene I thought was the beginning wasn’t really the beginning. This is another reason to write to ‘the end.’ The last scene often resolves an issue that is introduced in the opening scene, and the tone at the end will often echo the beginning. So once you’ve written the last scene, you may have to go back and revise the first scene.
Know how to push past blocks. When I’m stuck on a scene, I’ll change the font or the way I look at the page. Maybe I’ll write in italics to see if it changes the voice. Sometimes I reset my page layout to two columns for a different perspective. If you get blocked and can’t write, it might be a story problem. It’s not a bad thing. It just means you have to start looking at something in a new way — evaluate what you’ve written, add conflict or go in a new direction. For example, you may need to clarify the main character’s goal and motivation, and identify what the obstacles are to the goal and how the character is trying to overcome these obstacles.
Learn how to psyche yourself out…or into writing. I remind myself that a book is a series of tiny scenes all connected in some way. I’ll tell myself, “I’m going to write this one small scene today.” I generally end up writing more pages and scenes than I planned.
Banerjee is now working on a book for adults that will have an element of suspense but will also incorporate a complex storyline about human relationships, and a protagonist who must overcome hardship and reinvent herself.
Banerjee was born in India, raised in Canada and California and received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. She has written five novels for youngsters and four for grownups, including Enchanting Lily.
For more behind the scenes insight, read her post at Writerspace blogs. For more information about Banerjee’s other books visit her website.
As a writer struggling to someday become published, I appreciate Anjali’s advice. Her books are proof that the process she talks about her, works. I’ve loved her stories, and I’m looking forward to reading her new one. Pat
Thanks so much, Pat. Writing is definitely an ongoing learning process…A writer has to deal with ups and downs, joy and rejection, every step of the way. In the end, we have to love writing to stay in the game.