Are Breaks Good or Bad?

I have to admit I haven’t touched my manuscript in a while.  I have wanted to, life can get in the way though.  Besides working a full time job, I do writing on the side, work with some other gamers on creating games ourselves, am a member of the SCA, a wife, dog owner, gamer, and various other things which come with being an adult; so sometimes my writing or editing just falls to the wayside.

I do think breaks from writing and editing is necessary, it gives you time to get away and see things with a fresh mind.  This can help you see something which was there all along but until you didn’t look at it for a while, you never realized needed changing.  Of course on the flipside of that coin is the fact that the longer you are away from working on your manuscript, the harder it becomes to make it habit to work on it again.

I have hit that point.  It actually didn’t occur to me until the other day when I realized my writing group will meet this week.  I did do some editing to the pages I took the last time but it needs more.  Life just hasn’t been good for me.  Of course it hasn’t helped that many weekends this month I have not been well and thus many things have been ignored, but that is an excuse I need to just get over.  So it’s back to the grindstone for me.

What are your thoughts on taking breaks?  Do you think they are helpful?  Hurtful? Something which perhaps should be “scheduled” in to your writing/editing process?

Red Flags

I started this blog as a way to help me go through my manuscript writing and editing process, and hopefully help others in as well along the way.  However, I also do some freelance writing and editing on the side.  I know many people who do both, you know you have to pay the bills (or try to) somehow while waiting for your novel to be discovered.

Everyone knows there are many scams out there from people who are trying to part you from your money or other illegal things that involve money.  It is something we all need to be careful about and warn each other when we find a new one.  Well I recently had one attempted on me.

I have myself listed on many sites as a freelance writer, some I frequent more than others.  I have received jobs from random strangers via email, referred to me by someone I have worked with.  However, I received one last week which was not.

Now they sent me the article they wanted rewritten and edited, I’ve seen that before so you know what to quote.  I looked it over and asked several questions before saying yes.  I made up a contract and sent it off expecting them to tell me my fee was too high.  In a way, it was but the article was in terrible shape and their English in the emails was just as bad so I knew it would be difficult to get right.  They agreed and sent the form back to me.  I told them in the contract that the project would start once I received half the money upfront (the balance would be due at the project completion).

Well a few days later, I receive an email telling me that the person in charge of the money sent me a money order for their entire project budget, $2000!  I received an apology in this email and three copies of identification.  I requested the return address so I could send the money order back and asked them to pay me my retainer only.  I was suspicious at this point that it was a scam but wanted full proof.

The reply was to cash the MO, keep my fee, and Western Union the rest back.  That confirmed that it was a scam and I stopped replying right then and there.  I contacted my location police requesting the email of the police department and I contacted the site where I was told they found my name.  Not surprising the site had never heard of these people but they thanked me nonetheless and said they would inform their people of the scam.  I emailed both the police and the site the entire email transcript.  If I receive an MO, I will also take that to the police.

Once I did all that, I informed the fraudulent company that I had reported them to both places and that the contract was void since they were scam artists.  I have not heard from them since and have told as many people as possible.  Some said I should have known from the beginning but others said it was new to them but those kinds of things have started showing up in areas they previously had not.

So be careful when you are approached for writing jobs.  If it raises a single red flag, it’s probably fake.

Taking Criticism in Stride

Recently my monthly writers’ group met.  I once again brought the first three pages of my novel (only three pages are allowed) and put my heart and soul on display.  Some of the people in my group this month had read the copy I had last month, others hadn’t.  Both can be a blessing and a curse because those who have seen it might see what was changed, and those who haven’t do not know the lengths you have gone to make the work better.

In our group if you bring something to be critiqued, you are supposed to sit and take the criticism without defending your work.  This can be difficult at times but these people are trying to help you make it better and as an outside viewer can see the problems, you don’t.  I try to follow this rule and don’t say anything unless asked specific questions.

That being said last night was somewhat difficult.  I received great advice but many jokes were made at my expense, or actually at my story’s expense.  I have to admit I laughed about much of it because it was good-natured.  However, I also learned a lot from that session.  I was also asked to bring the revised copy back next month so people can see what I changed.

So do you take criticism well?  Or do you get defensive?