Thursday, April 25, 2019

Writing Lessons I Learned While Eating Chocolate By Rhonda Herren Starnes

I don’t know about you, but when I write, I get the munchies. My current writing treat of choice is Dove Promises, dark chocolate with almonds. Yummy! I’ll reward myself with one or two pieces when I reach certain writing goals…. daily word count, pages edited, etc. As an added bonus, I get a little note of inspiration and encouragement. Today, I thought I’d share with you four writing lessons I’ve learned while eating chocolate.  

Lesson #1: If you don’t take chances, you’ll never succeed.
I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was twelve-years-old. I would talk about it all the time, constantly saying, “One day…” However, it wasn’t until six years ago when my hubby called me on it, telling me either write a book or stop talking about it, that I finally sat down and wrote. Since then, I’ve written three complete books and started two others. I’m still not published, but I’m writing and entering contests and participating in pitch opportunities. It’s all about getting your work in front of the right person. Take chances!

Lesson #2: Just Write.
I must admit this one is hard for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a middle school language arts teacher and I’m used to correcting grammar, or if it’s because I’m a picky person. However, on the rare occasion, when I am successful at silencing my inner editor, I am much more productive. Even if half of the words end up being cut, I end up with more (usable) words in a shorter amount of time than I do when I’m sitting at my keyboard correcting and/or rewriting every sentence trying to make it perfect as I go. So, just write!

Lesson #3: Revise, revise, revise.
The book isn’t finished just because you typed “the end.” That’s when the real work begins. Never submit the first draft of a manuscript to an editor, agent, or contest. Read it. Revise it. Read it, again. Revise some more.

Now, with that said, you don’t want to get caught in a revision cycle that never ends. At some point you need to hit send. Just make sure, you’re submitting a manuscript you put your best effort into. Show your best work!

Lesson #4: Don’t let rejections stop you in your tracks.
Time for full disclosure. Having an editor or an agent reject your manuscript hurts. And it really hurts if you were given a chance to revise a manuscript and resubmit it for consideration only to receive a rejection in the end. I’ve had that happen, more than once. The last time it happened, I let self-doubt take over. How could I get this close and still not get a book contract? Is my writing so bad that I’ll never get a traditional publisher to take a chance on me?
The self-doubt engulfed me for an entire year. During that time, I only wrote one proposal (three chapters and a synopsis). That’s all. Writing was painful.

Fortunately, I have wonderful writing sisters and friends who encouraged me and lifted me from the cloud that surrounded me. I’m focused and ready to succeed, now. I’ll never get my year of writing time back, and that saddens me. However, I can’t dwell on the past. I have books to write. Don’t dwell in the past! The road may be bumpy, keep going!



Rhonda Herren Starnes writes stories of romantic suspense with rugged heroes and feisty heroines. She lives in North Alabama with her husband, who she lovingly refers to as Mountain Man. They have been married for thirty-three years and have two grown children and four grandchildren.

Rhonda is an ELA teacher with twenty-two years of experience. Other than the obvious task of teaching her students how to read, write, and communicate effectively, she sees her number one goal as an educator to be that of a motivator. She wants her students to learn, by her example, to go after their dreams.
Awards/Accomplishments:
• 2014 Love Inspired Suspense Killer Voices, finalist.
• 2015 Love Inspired Suspense Blurb to Book, finalist.
• 2016 Wisconsin Fab Five Silver Quill Award, Inspirational Category Winner.
• 2016 ACFW Genesis, semi-finalist.


https://www.facebook.com/RhondaHerrenStarnes/
https://twitter.com/Rhonda_Starnes
www.rhondaherrenstarnes.com

24 comments:

  1. Great lessons! And chocolate of course. :)

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  2. Loved this post, Rhonda! Your advice is wonderful (except now I'm hungry for Dove chocolate, LOL). ;)

    I think I need a wall mural painted with: JUST WRITE
    Those pesky inner editors can really slow us down, but if we can send them on a break, we can be so productive!

    Thanks for sharing with us, and I look forward to celebrating a Rhonda Herren Starnes book in the near future!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Patti Jo! I don't know that I'll ever be completely successful at silencing my inner editor, but I'm going to keep trying.

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  3. For me, Peanut M&Ms does the trick when I'm noodling ideas, fast-drafting or polishing. It's my writer's fuel. That and the fortitude to press on in this difficult and lonely business of writing because God told me to. Thanks for your authenticity and the motivation to keep at it, Rhonda.

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    1. I'm a big fan of Peanut M&Ms, too. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Hi Rhonda, love your wisdom! Silencing my inner editor is a hard one for me, too. And so true about putting our work (and ourselves) out there and in front of the "right person." If we never try, how will we ever know what just might happen?

    Congratulations on your accomplishments! (And BTW, you're rockin' the blue...and the chocolate!)

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  5. Rhonda, thanks for your perspective on writing tips ....inspired by chocolate! Your points are so true. I seem to relearn these valuable lessons with each step I take.

    I admire you for all you have accomplished. I know there are more celebrations ahead.

    Love the dark chocolate rewards! Here's to more chocolate treasures for you and all of us sharing this journey.

    Thanks for a delicious post! Blessings!

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    1. Sherida, I'm blessed to be on this journey with all of you encouraging ladies. Thank you for stopping by.

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  6. I love this, Rhonda! Such wisdom. I saw a book years ago with the title Writers Write. I almost bought it, but then I realized everything I needed to know was in the title.
    Cheering you on!

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    1. I may have that book...hmmm...must go check bookshelf. LOL. You're 100% correct though, the title says it all...Writers Write. Just keep writing. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Wonderful post, Rhonda! I share your affection for chocolate. Way to persevere in your writing! I can't wait to see what's next for you and your work.

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  8. Rhonda, I'm so proud of you girlfriend! Never stop writing and I too, believe chocolate is a great way to keep those fingers flying across the keyboard. My favs are almond M&Ms and always a Milky Way Midnight when I'm finished with a book.

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    1. Milky Way Midnight, yummy! Thanks for stopping by, sweet friend.

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  9. Beautifully written! And great lessons too!

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  10. Beautifully (and sweetly) said. Thank you Rhonda. I am a firm believer in doing what it takes to get those words on the page, and if that's chocolate, you go girl! I'll send you a bag of Doves when you make that first sale!

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    1. Now, that's inspiration to write! Thanks for your encouragement, Cindy.

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  11. Woo hoo! You are one smart white chocolate.

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  12. Rhonda, thank you for spending the day with us at Seriously Write. As a chocoholic, I adore any post that gives me a reason to consume Dove chocolate.

    Your advice is excellent! It is so hard to put ourselves out there and be rejected. But as writers we have to persevere. My skins getting pretty tough.

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  13. Thank you for inviting me to be here today, Terri. It's been fun!

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