Friday, 30 October 2015

My Pitch Wars 2015 Experience

I haven't updated this blog for what feels like forever because I have been super busy writing and editing! In September I got into a contest called Pitch Wars, where writers get selected to work with agented/published authors in order to make their manuscripts shiny and ready for agents - yay! If you want to check out my informal bio for Pitch Wars and a little bit about my manuscript, you can find it here!

This post is about what I've learned over the last eight or so weeks - A LOT - and I'd like to offer some tips and advice to other writers based on everything I've gained from this amazing experience!

1. Always have a PLAN.

Eight weeks is not a lot of time to edit a manuscript, polish it up and write a compelling pitch, but tight deadlines are pretty common so it's vital to have a coping strategy. And by that I mean you need a plan outlining everything you need to do and how you plan on doing it. Breaking everything down this way not only makes everything less scary (trust me), but ensures you don't forget anything.

As soon as I got my first edit letter, I cracked open a new notebook. I jotted down all the key points and any solutions that popped into my head. At first glance, it wasn't difficult to rank everything in order of priority - starting with large-scale arc changes down to line edits. Luckily for me, my mentors are geniuses who touched on everything I secretly wanted to change but didn't know how, but without outlining the necessary changes I would have had no idea where to begin. I plotted out my plan of attack and set myself strict deadlines - I managed to turn in my big picture edits EARLY, even if I still had a bit of work left to do on a smaller scale.

On that note - deadlines are important and Pitch Wars is seriously good practice for understanding what deadlines will be like down the road if all goes well. So yeah, have a PLAN and you'll be okay!!

2. Editing is scary. But it's manageable. You will survive - I promise.

So I suppose I've made it sound like I wasn't all that daunted by revisions - not true! Truthfully, the thought of all the new scenes I had to write and relationships I had to develop made me eat a lot of candy and flail. But I didn't dwell on my feelings. To make a manuscript stand out, to make it publishable, sometimes big changes have to be made. Is it painful? Sure. Is it doable? Absolutely. Because after having a plan comes having the right ATTITUDE. If I'm ever lucky enough to work with an agent and editor, I'll no doubt be asked to make more changes. That's just how it is. But I am 10000% more in love with my stories and charactersthan before, so the flailing (and toothache!) was worth it.

You can handle any scale of revision - even if it feels insurmountable at first. Don't be afraid to do what's necessary for your book baby!

3. The writing community is incredible. Make the most of it!

I already knew this, but seriously, reach out to your fellow writers. Help each other. Offer encouragement (and virtual hugs when things get tough). Part of what makes Pitch Wars so awesome is the camaraderie between mentees and sharing this journey with other writers. You'll make new friends if you seek them out, and maybe even some critique partners for future manuscripts!

So, there you have it - the key things I can take from this contest, and hopefully writers reading this find something useful in my ramblings!

I cannot thank Brenda Drake enough for this incredible opportunity - you do so much for the writing community, Brenda, it's amazing! And to my mentors Kathryn Purdie, Shannon Parker and Janet Taylor - you guys have been so, so supportive and encouraging, and I can't thank you enough for believing in my story enough to help me make it shine! You all totally 'got' my story and characters, and I am so grateful for that.

Best of luck to everyone participating! I can't wait and I wish everyone ALL THE SUCCESS!

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