I love Pinterest. Next to Instagram, its my favorite of the social networks because of all the pretty pictures. If you follow me at all on Pinterest you know I have boards for all kinds of things: favorite quotes, meals that I’ll probably never make, inspiration, and I even have pinboards for each of my books. My book pinboards are filled with nature pics and some quotes and (naturally) the models and actors that I think represent the characters in my books. These pinboards are very much like vision boards for me, and while I create them in the beginning stages of each draft, I add to them throughout the writing and editing and publishing process. These pinboards help me keep my vision of the books fresh while I’m trudging through the middle (middles are HARD for me, people!), and last year as I was setting up my planner I thought: why aren’t I making pinboards for other things? I should do that and so I did.
I made a vision board for 2018 on Pinterest. It was beautiful. Filled with quotes I like, pictures of places I’d like to visit or that inspire me…you get the idea. The problem was that while I filled that board up quickly, I forgot to go and check in on it (which made for a fun surprise this year when I discovered in again…but I digress). I wanted a vision board for my year that would actually work to inspire me – that I could see every day and not forget about. That meant it needed to be a physical board, not a digital one. The big problem with creating a big poster or cork board sized vision board is the size of my office and the fact that it doubles as a guest room.
I kept thinking and wondered if I could create a vision board that would live in my planner for the year. I use my planner daily, so I wouldn’t lose track of my vision. I could add to it throughout the year because I use the Happy Planner/discbound system, that was a bonus. I played around with that idea and it turns out, I could. And I did. And I am so excited about it!
I wound up putting the vision board in my project planner because that’s what made the most sense. So far I’m really loving it. When I see those images I chose to represent my expectations and hopes and plans for the year, it just makes me happy and inspires me to keep moving forward. So much, that I wanted to share the process with you guys because I think it could help you, too! Here’s what you need: glue, a few blank pages that will fit into your planner, and clippings from various magazines or digitally printed. The images can be words that are inspiring to you, nature images, inspirational/aspirational sayings, and even people that inspire you if you’re so inclined. If you don’t have any magazines laying around, contact your local Goodwill – most have stacks and stacks of magazines that you can buy for $1/bag.
Step One: go through the magazines page by page looking for images, headlines, and even bits of text that make you happy in some way. Cut them out and stack them in piles. I made piles of nature pics, some health/wellness images/words, inspirational words, and even a couple of pics of people (Oprah!) who inspire me. The number of clippings you have will vary, but I think a solid number is probably 20-30 clippings.
Step Two: decide how many “sections” you want for this vision board. I used three sheets of planner paper, and “titled” each page according to what it represented. I have a page for work (writing), a page for home, and a page for health/wellness because those are my top three areas this year.
Step Three: figure out which images you want on what pages and/or, if you’re just doing a single page, which section of the page. I like to have one big image and then I fill in the rest of the area with quotes and pictures that either reinforce what I see in that image or that build upon it.
Once you’ve figured out what goes on that page, it’s time for Step Four: start gluing! Rubber cement or glue sticks work well, but I prefer a tape runner (I use a TomBow) because it isn’t as messy but it keeps things in position. For my vision board, I also used washi to tape the pages together so that they fold in on one another. Speaking of, washi would be a great way to stick images to your pages and add a little more color/texture to the overall piece. That’s it. You’ve created a vision for your year that can be tucked into your planner (or put on a cork board if you have one!) that will keep you inspired for the next year.
Do you like vision boards? What would you like to create a vision board for?
I am asked – often – how to deal with editor’s notes. Whether they are big-picture, copyediting notes, or a mix of both. It’s a good question, especially because the first few times through an edit can be daunting. Do you change everything the editor asks about? Nothing? Somewhere in between? How do you know how Change A will impact the midpoint of the book? What about the Black Moment?
The simple answer is this: every little change you make will change following aspects of the book in ways you can’t know. Some changes will improve your writing voice, some will alter the overall story, some will create stronger characterization. How you approach these edits is, of course, up to you, which is why I asked a few friends to weigh in on how they approach editor’s notes. Here we go:
I approach my editor feedback like a big girl. Usually I will read through the editing notes first. Then I’ll read through the MS and all the comments which takes me about a day. I take a day to digest it. After that, if something still doesn’t ring true to me, I’ll make my own note in the comments next to hers. I’ll try to explain, for instance, why my hero has been deeply affected by such and such. Or I’ll explain why this or that makes sense to my heroine.
Occasionally, if I’m confused by a comment, though I’m always able to email and ask, I find I usually “get it” a day later. Most of the time, my editor’s notes are spot-on! Maybe I’m lucky, I don’t know. But they always seem to pinpoint those areas where I know I need to dig deeper. Why does this matter? Why does my character care so deeply about it?
Or in the instance of my latest proposal, when my editor said: this ending doesn’t work for me! To be honest, it didn’t work for me either, so it was just confirmation I needed to re-work that ending. My Harlequin editors are wonderful. They never try to squelch my voice. They just want to make sure I’ve gone as deep as I can and they’re right most of the time.
After the initial feeling of overwhelm, I try to remember what my editor says, “Sometimes you just need to change or add a sentence or two, or even just a word or two. Turns out with the latest WIP, I ended up adding an entire chapter and an epilogue, but it did make the book better, no question.
I always find feedback a little bit terrifying. So as soon as I get it, I read through it once, then put it away. I’ll then spend a day or two just sort of processing the general ideas included in the feedback. Once I get used to them, I’ll go back through the feedback in detail and make notes about how I plan to address it.
I believe that my agent and editor know what they are doing, that they can see things I can’t because they have more distance
from the story, and that their feedback will make my story stronger. I think it’s important to let go of my ego and really take their advice with an open mind and heart. I’m saying this because I have met authors who seem very suspicious of feedback and don’t seem to want to take it.
I would offer this advice. If you don’t agree with the editor or agent’s specific suggestions, try to think about what they are saying in general. I recently had an experience where the editor wanted me to strengthen the conflict, but her ideas about how to do that just weren’t resonating with me. They were good ideas, but they didn’t speak tomy heart. It took a few days of thinking really, really hard, but then I had a big ‘aha’ moment. I changed the entire backstory of my hero and heroine and upped the conflict significantly, in a way that satisfied both the editor and me.
Here’s where I’m a Weird Person. I love the feedback even when I hate it, because then I know what he wants rather than guessing at it. If I’m hoping to sell the story, I have to be willing to share ownership of it. This isn’t always easy, and I’ve made changes that to this day I think were mistakes. However, at the end of the day, he’s the editor and I’m not, and the publisher still signs my checks.
There you have it, friends, a few new ways you can approach editor feedback – to make your book the best it can be. If you have another tip, share in the comments!