My favorite books to edit are those written by first-time authors. People who share their amazing stories are like a springboard for improving my own creativity and business. Their willingness and fervor to dive into the deep end and make a book are infectious.
There is a lot of hand-holding through self-doubt and the unknown territory of book publication, but it is exciting to sit through the initial read of a new book from the editor’s seat. Sometimes, you are the first person to read someone else’s labor of love.
During these book reads, I inevitably encounter moments where the author writes “in the pocket.” These moments are where you see the initial sparks of what inspired the author to write the book in the first place. Thus, you truly get a sense of the saying, “words are flying off the page.”
For example, I recently had a chance to review a memoir of a law enforcement officer in charge of investigating crimes involving children and adolescents. The book was engaging, but the story really took off when she wrote about her family life at home while she pulled the night shift. I teared up when I read about her husband staying up all night and making her breakfast when she came home from a long and difficult night of work.
When authors speak from the heart, the writing gets better. These moments are definitely more stimulating for the reader as well.
Here is a fantastic example of writing from the heart. Why even edit this content because it is perfect as written the first time when the writer felt inspired in the moment:
One casual day me and my mom decided to go to Petsmart to get some items, and I decided there’s no point in going to Petsmart if you don’t bring a pet! We usually brought Nova (my dog) but instead I decided to bring my hamster because he didn’t get much attention, and was adorable. We drove to Petsmart and started shopping, We had four items on our list and were at the third item when I was sick of holding the hamster and decided to put him in the shopping cart. We were rolling along toward the dog toys just to look for fun because there’s so many cute ones. Suddenly mom felt a crunch under her foot and looked down to see what she had stepped on, and to our horror, it was my hamster. He must have jumped out of the cart! Now, he had gotten stepped on and had a bloody nose and was laying very still. I was very worried but managed to stay calm as my mom sat down to cry realizing she had just murdered my hamster. That was the first day. The second day I’ll put simply, not good; I woke up to what you could hardly call a “living” hamster and quickly came to the conclusion that it was most likely his last day. That didn’t mean I’d give up though; I gave more than a half of my day to him, giving him sessions of me holding him on the front porch and trying desperately to make him eat something, plus giving him as much attention as possible hoping he could live till the next day. Third day he was much better, but still not his normal self. I gave him the same amount of attention, hoping all the care and love would keep him going. I was pretty worried though, because he had not eaten on the first or the second day, and I knew that it was definitely not good for a hamster that had been stepped on and needed to heal. I didn’t know if there was any damage to his throat because most vets don’t accept hamsters. I knew even if he was healing well he wouldn’t survive if he couldn’t eat, so I desperately tried anything soft and fruity. I finally figured out he’d lick yogurt off my finger and eat canned orange slices. He ate half an orange slice which may seem pretty bad, but it’s actually an amazing breakthrough for his situation. Fourth day he seemed almost completely like himself and was perking up and opening his right eye which had been hurt as well. The picture below is from the fourth day. Because I had been paying him so much attention on the days that he was hurt and not feeling well, we had gotten a good bond, and he fell asleep right next to my leg! Though one thing is, I didn’t do this on my own… I had been praying too that he could heal and die of old age instead of starving or suffocating, and I think that God has answered that part so far.
Did you tear up? I did. You can’t compromise authentic moments like the one above.
But, it is not easy to keep inspiration going throughout an entire book, no matter how dedicated you are to achieving this.
Although stacks of books exist on creative writing, I narrowed my tips for inspiring authentic writing:
- Find inspiration your way. If your brain sparks when you read music, clean house or visit with friends, do that. Bring a notebook or voice recorder to capture inspiration.
- Write what you enjoy reading and writing. Try to avoid writing for what you think someone else would like (but find an editor where your styles align).
- Build an outline of the book’s structure. Don’t worry about following the outline in order. Have you thought about building the story starting at the end?
- Don’t try too hard. Readers can tell when you are. So when you get stuck, don’t write through it. Instead, take a break and come back fresh. Distance gives clarity.
- Try to stay in the moments that inspire you to write. It is easy to find inspiration when on vacation, but transporting that to your writing when you get home can be difficult.
- Are you stuck because the characters you write about wouldn’t say or do that in their lives?
- Important things hide in plain sight. So get out of the nit-picky details like finding the perfect adjective to use and return to writing the story.
Bottom line: Speaking from the heart wins friends and influences editors like me.
As an editor, my goal is similar to authentic writing. My intention is to not alter what you are trying to say or how you say it. Instead, the goal is to make your voice clear, understandable, readable and clean of errors.
If you are struggling with finding your writing voice or maintaining your authentic writing, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss how to move you forward.
Thank you, Phoebe C., for sharing your beautiful story about your pet hamster. Shortly after writing her story, Phoebe’s hamster walked away to find a quiet, hidden place and has not returned. May you rest in peace, sweet hamster.
Do you want your authentic story to become beautiful? If you need help improving your writing, please reach out to me at: https://rivetservice.com/contact-rivet-service/.