Karen's Tips for Writing:
While He Was Away Walmart-Exclusive Cover Reveal
and My Top Tips for Writing
Even When the Writing Gets Tough
By Karen Schreck
My birthday falls in January, just a few days after New Year’s Day. This January, I received an incredible gift from my publisher, Sourcebooks Fire. My young adult novel, While He Was Away, is being released nation-wide into Walmart with a brand new cover!
When my editor at Sourcebooks, Leah Hultenschmidt, graciously asked if I’d be open to this possibility last fall, I blinked, breathed deep, confirmed I wasn’t dreaming, and said, “Yes!” I held on to the possibility until it became a reality. Then, and only then, did I celebrate.
I won’t speak for all writers, but for me, writing is an act of faith. I love the work deeply, or I wouldn’t do it. I’ve generated a lot of pages that have never seen the light of day, written multiple novels that I’ve relegated to folders on my laptop. Keeping the faith in anything, especially writing, can be hard.
The fact that Sourcebooks believed enough in While He Was Away to bring it to life the first time felt like a much-needed confirmation of years of hard work. The fact that they are standing behind my book again in this way . . . well, it feels like a miracle. I’m truly grateful.
Without further ado, here are my Top Writing Tips (they’ve help me a lot; I hope they help you in some way):
1. Read a lot. Read voraciously. Read like a writer. Read some more. Read people who write in your genre or in a style that is similar to yours and take note of how they do what they do. Read people who write in a completely different way to keep your head clear and give you new ideas. Just. Keep. Reading.
2. Develop a ritual for your writing. I wouldn’t think of telling you what to do. You need to find what works for you, and sometimes that changes with your circumstances. This year, I’ve been working at an ad agency in the city. My ritual is to hunker down in the quiet car on the train and GET A LOT DONE. Previously I’ve written in the very same quiet corner of my local library. In basements. On couches. In bed. By candlelight. I’ve found that consistency and ritual can trigger my creativity. Ring the bell and I’ll salivate. Kind of like that.
3. Don’t be afraid to be messy in your work. Don’t be afraid to push forward even though it isn’t perfect. Nothing is perfect! Embrace that reality, and be kind to yourself. And forgiving of the words on the page.
4. Fall in love with revision. “I’m not a writer,” I once heard a writer say. “I am a re-writer.” I LOVE that. I love the word revision. Re-vision. Seeing again, anew, as if for the first time. Revision gives great perspective. And I think it’s where the real work gets done.
5. Never give up. Keep the faith. Years may pass. But the more you write, the more the very act of writing becomes rewarding. Writing is soul-work; it lends meaning to life. That’s what I believe, and that’s what sees me through. Publication—well, that a wonderful thing. But the writing—that’s where it’s at.