Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August is Awesome Because of Charlie Holmberg

I'm such a fan of awesome people, and Charlie Holmberg definitely qualifies as awesome.  I'm an avid fan of her "Link Blitz" posts every Friday.  (She always manages to find something fascinating for us.)

She spotlights "Someday Stars" every other Thursday, introducing her readers to those that she believes will be a bona fide star--someday.

I've always loved Charlie's upbeat blogging personality, her positive outlook toward life (wherever it may take her) and her genuine love of family.

Congratulate her on all those works she's finished and give her a great big welcome!


Step 1: Finish Your Manuscript

Before I dive into this, let me make it clear that I don’t have any writing credentials outside a few small-town story contests. Because of that, I don’t expect anyone to take my writing “advice” with any merit. However, one thing I can do is finish a book, and the first step to being published is, of course, having a complete manuscript.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since junior high, started focusing on it in high school, and began taking it seriously in my first year of college. I started my first book when I was 13, but I didn’t finish a [different] book until 19. If my memory is correct, the first book I finished was the eighth I had started (not including my dabbling in fanfiction, which we won’t get into!).

So what changed?

The thing that really got me focused was utilizing a daily word count. I fluctuated between a minimum of 500 and 1,000 words a day, every day. Sometimes it was really hard to get those words in when I wasn’t excited about the scene or didn’t know what would happen next, but I had to do those words, otherwise they would accumulate, because I refused to forgive a day’s word count unless absolutely necessary.

Charlie Holmberg's awesome blog

The next step was turning off my internal editor. We all have one: the mini version of us that, in the voice of our 11th grade English teacher, says, “That sounds weird,” or “You’ve already used that word!” The sooner you murder this editor and bury him six feet under (later to be resurrected as a blood-thirsty and immortal revisionist), the more words you will write. Stop thinking about it. Say it can’t be done? So did I. But if you try hard enough—if you remind yourself that revisions will come later, and they will be glorious—it can be done. I have the curse fortune of being an editor in my consciousness as well, and if I can shut my internal editor off, so can you. As is, I hand out drafts to my alpha readers without ever giving the manuscript a second glance. Once it’s written, it’s out of mind. (Outlines help.)

Lastly, you need to make time to write. Not find time to write, make it. The reason we always arrive at our son’s soccer practice on time or catch the latest episode of America’s Got Talent, despite our busy schedules, is because we make those things priorities. There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, How much do I want this? The more you want to write, the more time you will find to write. The more excited you are about you manuscript, the more time you will find the write. The more you ache for your story to be on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, the more time you will find to write.

I’ll use my sister and I as an example. Both of us love writing; both of us are writers. My sister is currently finishing her revisions of her first completed novel, which she started three years ago. I’m currently drafting my seventh.

So many? :-)
My sister, 2 ½ years my senior, has two kids with a third planned, and a brand new poodle. She is incredibly accomplished. She’s an Irish step dancer. She plays the cello, the piano, the tin whistle, the hammered dulcimer, and more. She’s fluent in Japanese. She runs the Girls’ Achievement Days for her church, which is virtually boy scouts for young ladies. She cooks all her family meals, sews all her daughters’ Halloween costumes, and maintains a rather seismic garden. She also has plans to learn how to shoot a gun.

Now look at me. I have a full-time job, and I write. Outside of that, my hobbies are limited to my learning to play the ukulele and the occasional brushing up on my neglected piano skills. I do enjoy cooking dinners when my husband isn’t scheduled for work. I used to bake a lot, but now only do on occasion. I used to play the flute and the French horn. I used to write music. I used to win awards for my compositions and played live shows. These are hobbies I pushed aside for the sake of writing, and while I am not nearly as well-rounded as my sister, outside of my husband and family, getting published is the most important thing on my map right now, and the highest and hardest goal I have set for myself.

So when it comes to time, if you want to write, write. If writing is a priority to you, make it a priority. No need to be a Nazi about it—life happens. Problems arise. Kids need mothering. The day job needs doing. I can’t recall which author said this, but one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever heard in regards to finding time to write went something like, “Nothing needs your attention at four o’clock in the morning.”

Butt in chair + hands on keyboard = productivity.

Productivity = finish books.

Finished books = queries to agents and editors.

Queries, though long and tiresome, = published works.

Much luck to everyone on this writing journey, and thank you to Jeff for letting me leak brain all over his blog. Let’s get those manuscripts finished and show the publishing industry just what we’re made of!

Charlie Holmberg is awesome!
About Charlie Holmberg:

I’m a technical writer and editor from Salt Lake City, Utah, currently living in Moscow, Idaho. I play the ukulele, pretend to speak Japanese, and really want a dog.

Twitter: @cnholmberg


  1. Thanks so much for letting me steal your blog away for a day, Jeff! It was a lot of fun, and a second thanks for your kind introduction!

    1. The honor and pleasure were all mine, Charlie. For me, the most awesome part of August this year has been introducing so many awesome people.

  2. It's amazing what we give up to pursue publication. The thing is I don't miss it much. Writing is all consuming.

  3. She's right - you just make time for it and some activities fall by the wayside. If you enjoy the writing though, you'll never miss those activities.

  4. I finished my first 2 sagas (5 books) as a sort of therapy to get a life of some kind after a really bad chronic illness took mine away for 4 years. It kept me from losing my sanity. I just kept writing and writing from 4am to 1am. Internal editors were off since i didn't expect to be read. Now is different. I need at least one person to read them for me to be able to go on writing. Otherwise I get writer's block and cannot finish them, even if I have the time.

    1. That is really amazing! What great therapy, and great determination. And writing isn't as fun if there's no one to share with ;)

  5. Family first, then writing. I've never been quite so well rounded as Charlie--writing has been my obsession since elementary school. Well, it seems I make sleep a priority as well, since I've never been willing to give it up to write.

    1. I've always been a person of extreme focus when it comes to dreams and ambitions. I find little desire or discipline to concentrate on anything but the immediate objective. Fortunately, I have a forgiving wife who has a gentle way of reminding me that other things are also important.

  6. I can't agree more in that you have to actually finish a manuscript to have any chance of getting it published.

    And making writing a priority, maybe not the top priority, but it can't be at the bottom, has to happen to actually establish time to do the writing, revising and editing to finish that mansucript.

    1. Balance is always important. Maintaining it can be a challenge.

  7. This is a great post, Charlie. Just imagine when you land an agent...all those manuscripts could sell at once. :)

  8. This is a great reminder I need to read, oh, probably EVERY day! You'd think it'd be easy to find the time to write, but you really do have to make it.

  9. That is great advice. Also, I want to be your sister a little, how cool is the dulcimer?

  10. This was a fantastic post. Seriously, thank you :)

    I will be visiting your blog more often now :)