If you've been looking for a writer-friend, that generously offers advice and selflessly throws around encouragement, then allow me to introduce you to Kristen Kieffer. Kristen is a published author and runs an incredible blog at well-storied.com, where she makes it her mission to help other writers hone their craft with tips and tools. Kristen's passion is evident if you follow her on twitter, Facebook or her site; she doesn't just want writer's to learn how to write well, she wants writer's to love what they do.
I mentioned Kristen in my last blog post, where I explain the importance of networking and joining writer's communities. Although many writer's are introvert characters, the writing journey shouldn't be taken alone. It can be a turbulent flight path, from first draft to publishing. No one should venture that trip by themselves.
Kristen is also the host of the twitter writer's chat, #storysocial, held every Wednesday at 9pm, under the handle @storysocial. Join us! But before you do, learn more about Kristen in my interview with her below.
1. Kristen, your advice has been helpful to many writer's, myself included. If you had to narrow it down, what three tips would you consider to be irrefutable gems for the writing trade?
Great question! Firstly, I'd say to keep your focus narrowed. The majority of writing doubts stem from worrying what others will think of your work. If you focus on writing for yourself instead, you'll find it much easier to handle the ups and downs of your writing life. Secondly, I'd urge every writer to approach their work with humility. No writer is too good to learn the tenets of the craft, nor too skilled to continue improving their work. By writing with an open mind, you'll grow a little every day. And finally, I'd encourage every writer to make a habit of writing. This doesn't necessarily mean writing every day, but finding some measure of consistency is key to making continual progress. Writing isn't always easy, but when the going gets tough, it's the sheer habit of sitting down and doing the darn hard work that will ensure you keep your passion alive.
2. What was the first piece of writing, scribed by you, that made you proud?
I daydreamed a lot as a child, though I was never a very consistent writer. However, in the sixth grade, I received an assignment to write and illustrate a short story. I ended up writing about a young girl who escapes the clutches of a Dark Lord with the help of a unicorn that had a mane made of fire. Not sure how practical that fiery mane was, but I sure did love the story! My illustrated bind-up was also featured in my local library after the assignment was complete, which was a lot of fun!
3. I know you to be a busy-bee with multiple projects and or passions going on at the same time. What are you currently working on?
Ha, you're certainly not wrong about that! I often have too many projects rumbling around in my brain at once, both for Well-Storied and for my fiction. Narrowing it down can be tough. Currently, I'm developing a new workbook on world-building for Well-Storied and revising my debut fantasy book, Lady Legacy. You can read about the latter by clicking here!
4. To piggy-back on the last question, what tips do you have for juggling multiple projects?
Two things, really. First, mix it up! You don't want to work on projects that feel so similar that working on one doesn't much feel like a break from working on the other. Secondly, set small, achievable goals that make big projects feel far more attainable. It's easy to run out of steam when working on long-term projects, but striving to reach a small goal each week or to work for a certain amount of time each day can make completing your projects feel far less intimidating.
5. You give excellent counsel on the craft. What books would you list as must-reads for authors? (Feel free to plug in your workbook, which I found immensely helpful **winks**).
Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you think so. I've learned most of what I know about the craft from fellow writing bloggers and by studying the stories I read. However, I can recommend any of K.M. Weiland's many excellent craft books (she also blogs at HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors. com), as well as Joanna Penn's books on publishing and marketing, and the book Fearless Writing by William Kenower for learning how to take charge of your writing life. I've also just begun work on my own full-length writing craft book, so do keep an eye out for that some time near the end of the year, if all goes well. It'll be my first after many years of creating printable workbooks for writers!
6. If a writer has several ideas in their heads, how would you recommend they choose which one to work on? How should they prioritize? Or, should they hop from project to project, whichever one strikes the mood for the day?
I've actually written a full article on this topic at Well-Storied that I think you may very much enjoy! Generally, I'd suggest that writers stick with one project at a time. It's okay to work on a second project as a break after finishing a draft of the first, but bouncing between a wide variety of ideas on a daily or weekly basis is the surest way to find yourself defeated down the road when you've made little progress on any one in particular. For tips on choosing between ideas, however, definitely make sure to check out that article linked above!
7. I have found multiple definitions for Indie Publishing; some say it's to do with self-publishing, other definitions say that it's to do with publishing your work with an independent small press. Which one is it? Or is it both?
This is a confusing topic indeed, and I don't agree with some of the definitions that can be found online. The term "Indie Publishing" can mean self-publishing, in which the author pays out of pocket for the services needed to publish their book. "Indie Publishing" may also refer to hybrid publishing, which is an umbrella term used to describe any number of deals brokered with small or large presses in which the author pays for some services out of pocket in order to receive a higher royalty rate from their publisher.
As for independent small presses, some may fall into the hybrid-publishing category, while others offer fully traditional publishing (the author pays for nothing out of pocket) on a smaller scale. What matters most is not the terminology used to describe how you're publishing your book, but that you understand your options and carefully consider which is best for you and your story. There is no right way to publish, and all forms of publishing are valid. (Excepting scams and vanity publishers, of course!)
8. What do you do for fun, besides reading and writing (which I know brings you great joy)? Do you think it's important for writer's to have other interests besides reading and writing?
I've been searching for the right hobby to give me some time away from the computer screen for years now, and at last, I think I've found my home in baking. Kneading dough is a great way to pound out life's frustrations, and the smell of baking bread? Divine! What better hobby is there than one that allows you to eat your creations too, right? I've also taken up running to counteract all my newfound gluttony. *wink*
9. Pick two authors, dead or alive, that you would love to see on a panel?
I am a massive fan of both Ursula Le Guin, who recently passed away, and N.K. Jemisin. Both are pioneer women fantasy writers who have lent so much depth to a genre that's traditionally been tailored toward a Eurocentric male gaze. I'm forever grateful for the doors they've opened in their careers and for the ways in which their stories have captivated and inspired me over the years. Listening to them speak on a panel would be a true honor.
10. What is your next writing goal?
Reforging my writing routine. Several months back, I burned out hard on writing fiction. Far, far worse than I ever had before. As a writing blogger, I feel a lot of pressure to make my debut book as spectacular as can be. Typically, I can manage this pressure, but I ended up diverting that energy toward other areas of my life when the beginning of 2018 got tough. I'm through to the other side now, but still very much rebuilding my fiction writing life. It's onward and upward from here!
Remember to check out the resources Kristen offers on her website!
Kristen Kieffer is an author of fantasy fiction and creative writing resources. At Well-Storied, she strives to help writers craft sensational novels and build their very best writing lives.