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The Learning Curve

by Katherine Reay

Today is an exciting day for me. My debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, releases today – and I figured this was a fun and appropriate place to park myself. I’m supposed to write about writing here because that’s what we do!

It’s been a year since Thomas Nelson contracted Dear Mr. Knightley. And as it launches today, I’m beginning edits for my second novel, Lizzy and Jane. So it’s been a busy year, a frenetic year and a blessed year. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way and, while I forget them almost daily, I’m trying to hold them close…

1. Accept help. Terribly hard sometimes for the Type A folks. I learned this one, following an injury in 2009, but it’s amazing how quickly one can forget. I have found my friends and family love to help me — editing, cooking, relaxing, cleaning (okay, no one is really jumping at that one), and brainstorming… As a writer there are things you do alone – without doubt – but there are also things that benefit from the input of friends, family, critique partners and colleagues.

2. Run. I am little biased on this one. I get my best ideas when running. But I think this really comes down to getting some exercise. It helps release frustration and untangles stymied characters if nothing else.

3. Write. Write. Write. This is fairly new to me. While writing Dear Mr. Knightley, there were no expectations and no deadline. After all, I had no guarantee it would ever make it off my computer. Now there are both expectations and deadlines – and I love that. It’s inspiring, but also a little terrifying. So day in and day out, I write. Some days it feels the effort yields little in value and on other days – sheer brilliance. (Hehehehe… I’m trying to convince myself of that last one.)

4. Read. I write better when I stay close to good books and well-written ideas. Blogs, books, magazines, and newspapers … simply keep reading.

5. Study the Craft. I continually read articles about writing, characters, story construction, plot… and I always learn something new. I love The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass and the ideas I find here. Our ACFW community is so good about sharing. I love that!

6. Enjoy yourself. Writing is tremendous fun and actually having deadlines is thrilling for me. I don’t want to ever forget that or take this opportunity, this gift, for granted. So I will savor it!

7. Pray. It’s so easy to get caught up in our frenetic lives and the stories we want to write, but God put this desire and the ability to write within us. He’s the creator and author of it all – so go to Him daily.

Thanks for reading. I don’t know if any of this was helpful, but getting such reminders helps me. I forget the importance stuff quite quickly when faced with the seemingly urgent. I’d love to hear fro you if you have any tip that help as well.

dear mr knightley coverKatherine Reay loves Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After a few years working in marketing and a few moves, including stops in England and Ireland, Katherine and her family reside in Seattle, WA, where she spends her days reading novels, running, writing, cooking and trying to clean the house. You can find her at www.katherinereay.com, on Twitter @katherine_reay or on Facebook at /Katherinereaybooks.

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