Take Time : Insecure Writer’s Support Group #ISWG

Take TimeIt’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support GroupThe IWSG Day question for July is: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing? My answer: Take Time.

This is the perfect topic for me to write about right now. I just got back from our family’s annual “Erickson Cabin Week.” About 25 of us (the number varies slightly each year) go to Woman Lake Lodge where we spend time together, swim, read, and play games.

I recently had surgery on my foot and can’t bear weight on it for 6 weeks. That made cabin week a little different for me this year. I made the best of it, though. Family members came to visit me each day and during the quiet time, I worked on my mystery novel.

A year ago, I completed the rough draft. I felt so accomplished. It was surely a mystery of Agatha Christie quality.


Fast forward.

It’s awful. There are so many plot holes. I have too many characters. The murder happens too late in the book. The loose ends are unraveling everywhere!

The worst part of it is that it’s a wonderful story. It’s worth saving. But that takes work.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Take Time.

Take time to read your genre.

This is how you will get to know the conventions of the what you want to write. Even though readers can’t always put into words what they expect from a book, they know in their gut what these conventions are. Begin reading for more than pleasure. When you read a book that is in the genre you want to write in, take time to dissect it. What do the books in that genre need to have in order to work? Knowing that ahead of time will save you a lot of trouble as you write your book.

Take time to learn about what makes a story “work.”

I love The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. He’s an experienced editor who has put together a system with the help of Steven Pressfield. There are other books and systems out there by reputable authors that can help you with the process. Take time to read them and follow their advice. This was where I stumbled. Now, I’m going back over my manuscript and the changes I’m making are taking the story to the next level.

Take time to write plot your book.

This is sure to stir up a lot of opinions. There are writers who prefer to fly by the seat of their pants, thus giving them the nickname, pantsers, and there are plotters, writers who plan out the direction their plot  I make no judgment on this.

I am a “plotter.” By plotting out my book, I ultimately feel an amazing freedom to write. It removes writer’s block and gives me a sense of security as I move forward.

Take time to let your first draft sit.

I read my rough draft several times. I thought it was great. After letting it sit I gained some objectivity. I was able to find the problems with the story as well as simple grammatical errors. I was also able to spend that time writing my book, Facing Cancer as a Friend.

Take time to use editors, critique groups/partners, and beta readers.

The feedback from my beta readers on Facing Cancer as a Friend was a big part of making the book a success.

Feedback from my critique group has improved not only my book but my writing, as a whole.

Sometimes we get so excited about what we’re working on that we think we need to get it on the market—now. That only degrades the quality of our writing and our reputation.  It’s worth slowing the process down and not skipping steps, in order to avoid such a destructive thing.

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since my husband, Dan was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness.

My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography




8 thoughts on “Take Time : Insecure Writer’s Support Group #ISWG”

  1. What a wonderful family event. I’m quite jealous.
    Your thought about the murder arriving too late in the story–I feel that one. I’m editing my next novel, due next Spring after too many years of writing, and it strikes me that some of the best characters arrive well after the half-way point. Sigh. I’ll probably leave it.

    • I had the problem of a main character arriving too late as well. It was the cop doing the investigation. I ended up adding a scene where my protagonist gets a flat and he stops to help. It’s one of my favorite scenes now. I’d considered having someone mention him early on. I think that works, too. My personal feeling is that it’s okay for a character to come in late, so long as they can get well established and hold their own. In reality, people weave in and out of the stories of our lives when it is natural and makes sense. I guess I won’t ever be teaching story theory. 🙂

  2. That’s always been my problem. I’m not a very patient person. I like to jump in and start writing…only once I’m a few chapters in do I stop and try to figure out where I’m going!

    • Hi Stephanie, Do you find that jumping in works well for you? If it does, then you’re doing the right thing. I plan things and then change them when I realize something isn’t working. Right now, I’ve made so many changes to my story that I wonder if the changes are going to work. This feels like the novel that will never be done. 🙂

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