Please join me in welcoming a fabulous writing coach and very savvy lady - Valerie Hayward!!
My workday begins with coffee and the fabulous Banditas. I can’t believe I’m actually in the lair today. What an honor. Thank you so much for having me.
In my twenty-six years in the romance biz -- gosh, no wonder I have white hair! – I’ve evaluated hundreds of manuscripts across all romance genres. And there’s a common denominator I see in writers who become successful. They know their writing strengths and trust themselves as writers. Writing strengths are the focus of What Makes You Strong Makes You Sell –my feature article in this August’s Romance Writers Report. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, every author, editor and agent I interviewed agreed that writing from your strengths is the basis for success.
Writing strengths are what you do best, what you’re passionate about, the parts of writing that are fun for you. So often I see writers bogged down in the not-so-fun stuff -- laboring over what’s wrong, trying to incorporate feedback from contest judges and critique groups. Clinging to rules, chasing market trends. Why not switch the focus and write from what you do best – get inspired again by what brought you to writing in the first place.
It’s natural for beginning writers to look outside themselves for answers, but eventually you have to start trusting yourself. That trust may come as a gradual process, an ah-ha moment -- or because doing it “right” has gotten you nowhere. But the time comes when you must make the leap of faith and start believing in your strengths.
As an editor I can tell when a writer has liberated herself from outside influences and is writing from her strengths. The manuscript may not be perfect – which is good because perfect is boring. But it will have energy, a genuine voice and a unique take on the genre that no other writer can offer. Nothing is more exciting to an editor, because these are the things that can’t be taught. Everything else is fixable. It’s a joy for an editor to work with an author at this stage. The writer is truly at a turning point and the first sale is within reach.
There’s a learning curve to writing, and those first tentative steps will undoubtedly be about craft, getting the basics under your belt. But don’t be in a hurry to submit to agents and publishers -- it’s a number one reason for rejection. Your technique may be there, but you may not have mastered that je ne sais quoi only you can bring to the marketplace. Honing your writer’s instincts is as important as honing your craft. Those instincts are a strength every successful author relies on. Because what makes you strong, makes you sell!
Have you found your strengths? Trust your instincts? I’d love to know how you did it. And if you have any editor questions on any writing topic, ask away! Aspiring authors be sure to leave a comment because one of you will receive a free critique of a partial romance manuscript!
Visit www.valeriesusanhayward.com anytime you have questions about writing and the business of romance. My door is always open!
Valerie Susan Hayward is a former Harlequin Editor and Silhouette Senior Editor. She’s now an editorial consultant with a web-based critique service – and a passion for helping aspiring writers!