Since I can't seem to wake up this morning to do some actual writing, I thought I'd share some tidbits that have been helping me through the writing process.
1. Character outlines are fine, but writing a short story from the character's perspective is far more useful. It gave me the chance to really BE the character and really understand how that person would react in a situation. This way, when I come up with an idea for the story, it's not just the characters handling it the way I think they should, it's the characters handling it the way they would (hopefully, that makes sense).
2. Don't use family or really close friends for "beta" readers. I'm not saying that family/friends are terrible people or their critiques aren't useful, but they know you and they know you well. No matter how great your characters are, they will always be a reflection of you or your life in some way. People who know you will always pick that up. "I could totally see you saying that" or the like. People on the internet don't know you and are happy to give you an opinion of your work based entirely off the work.
3. When writing, pace yourself. I have found that yes, I can sit down and write for hours and really make progress. However, I tend to get obsessive and will continue to do that for days at a time while life passes by and choirs go undone. For me, I've found that doing 500-1000 words a day takes little to no effort and gives me the rest of the day to get everything done that I need to and time to really think about the direction the writing is going. Pacing myself turned a single book into a series that, as of last night, is looking closer to 6 books...because I've had time to really think about it.
4. For crying out loud hire an editor. I've picked up way too many free books off amazon (i watch twitter feeds for such things) that I couldn't get through the first chapter because the writing is so bad. Please understand, my grammar sucks (as you can tell in this blog). It's not as though I go looking for perfect grammar and writing style - I go looking for plot and characters. So, when the grammar stops me in my tracks, its bad....very bad. I don't care who you are or what your background is, you NEED an editor. As a writer, you are too close to your own work and will end up missing a ton of things because of that.
5. It doesn't hurt to have someone around who you can talk ideas to get an opinion. My poor wife has become this for me. I usually run all my crazy ideas by her, because I know that there will be times where an idea sounds awesome in my head...but completely stupid out loud. Everyone needs someone to keep them grounded.
For the time being, that's all I have time to say. Remember, these are just opinions and not facts - everyone's writing style is different and should be catered to accordingly. Except the part about getting an editor...that should be law.