This week though, I think you have definitely have the ability to help out each other, and when I can, I will be walking around the room to answer whatever I can help out with.
Which is a bit of an Idol first. But I figure - this week is all about me anyway! Right? Right! http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/495977.html
Which is why I feel OK with pointing a couple things out. These aren't new things. Some of them I have said before. But there is no harm in saying them again, just in case you were someone who didn't listen the first time:
- If you tell me that your entry isn't very good, I'm going to assume you know best and I'm not going to bother reading it. There are so many entries out there to be read, and only so much time. If you start out your entry (or use it in the link cut) giving me any indication that you are wasting my time, I'm going to move on. There have been times when the only reason that I have read something is because I was linking it anyway. Had I not been doing that, I wouldn't have bothered with it, and missed out on something worth reading.
Just don't do it. If you have to write about how tough it was to write something, go ahead - write it. Then delete that section completely before linking it.
- Formatting is your friend. See above - if you tell me that you didn't have time to make your entry something other than a block of text - then you are telling me that I shouldn't waste my time. You could have just submitted the greatest work of literature of the 21st Century. If I look at your page and things blur from a block of text or an unreadable color, you have lost me.
An example from a few seasons ago comes to mind of someone who was doing that. She was suffering in the polls because people were just not able to find an entry point into the work due to the color of the text against the background. It seems like such a simple thing - but it was huge. She fixed the problem and made it easier for a casual reader, and ended up making it into the finals that season!
Again, the lesson is pretty straight forward - do not sabotage yourself before you get out of the gate. You need to make people want to read your work.
Note: I understand that there are some folks out there using JAWS or similar programs. That certainly can inhibit proper formatting. But I've also seen people use it and not have that problem, so I would suggest asking one of them for tips.
- Which leads right into my next point - get a beta reader. Find someone you trust to be honest and candid with you about your work. Get them to read it over and point out how you can make the piece stronger.
Believe me, it's something I am personally resist in my own work. But over the years, I've seen it work.
Ideally, Idol itself can perform that function. But I know some people are nervous about giving candid feedback - and the ones who aren't, might not be the people you really want to be listening to given their lack of understanding of the word 'constructive".
But, even if you don't want to post asking for people to give feedback, it might not be the worst idea to email a couple people that you know and enjoy to find out what they think of a particular piece. One of the advantages of working so closely with other writers, for such a period of time, is that you have the opportunity to make each other get that much better.
I'd highly recommend taking advantage of it. If nothing else, you might make a new friend in the process.
- When it comes to writing the actual entry - trust your gut. Don't play it safe. There is no benefit in playing it safe. You're not going to get better that way, and you certainly won't be very interesting to read.
- I'm sure there are more "pet peeves" of mine that will come up throughout the week. I'll update the list or just comment in this entry as I remember them!
Anyone notice anything else people have been doing to sabotage themselves? More importantly, have you noticed anything you have been doing in your own work?