People often ask me for advice. I don’t know why, seeing as there are many, far more qualified people to ask. But they do. Sometimes they ask me how they should go about writing a book or publishing said book. Sometimes it’s just a big, general “Should I even be a writer?”
These, admittedly, are tough questions to answer! I usually find myself giving some vague advice (Just write! You can do it! Don’t give up!).
But today I’m going to write what I really want to say to new writers. Or any writer, if they care to read. This advice might not get you published, but I hope it keeps you happy and productive, both of which are more important than publication.
• If you really want to write, then do it. Sure, you may never get published. Sure, you may suck at first. Sure, you may not even know what to write. That’s all okay! You have to start somewhere, and I promise every author started with a very crappy first chapter, followed by some more not-so-great stuff. It’s part of the game, and you can’t get better at it if you don’t play.
• Stop caring so much about advice. No, really. The more I write and talk to other writers, the more I’ve learned how personal writing is. Everyone gets the book finished differently. Everyone edits differently. Everyone has a different query method. You should do what works for you. If advice happens to fit into your process, yay! If not, don’t waste your time feeling bad about it. You are not a lesser writer because you don’t do insert-whatever-method-here.
• Finish the dang first draft. You can’t do anything else until you have an actual book to work with. There’s no sense worrying about publishing or editing until you’re done. Typing “The End” is just the beginning. So stop freaking out about how many adverbs you have and get writing. Save the editing for, you know, edits. Don’t worry about your “platform.” You need an actual book for that to even matter.
• You are NOT the exception. Okay, maybe you are, but never, ever think that you are. I know we all hope we’ll be that writer who gets an agent in a week and sells in two days, but seriously, bank on that NOT being you. It will make you much happier. And when you aren’t the exception? Please, don’t feel bad about it. It doesn’t make your book any less special. It doesn’t make you any less of a writer.
• Remember how much you love writing. Remember the rush of this story, how much you adore it and why you want to write it. Remember that you love to write and that’s what matters. Remember that passion. You will need these memories—they will keep you going when things get hard.
• It will get hard. There will be times you want to give up, where you’ll wonder if your stories are any good or if things will ever happen. That doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It just means you are a totally normal writer. Welcome to the club of worry warts.
• It’s worth it. Writing has brought me some of my worst personal moments, but it’s also taught me a lot about who I am as a person. Writing has made me stronger, and the success I have had is that much sweeter because of failures.
• Success is no substitute for self-esteem. Oh, success feels great…for about a week. Or a day. If you don’t believe in yourself or your work, no amount of praise will change your mind. This makes two things true: 1) You can be proud of your work whatever stage you’re at. And 2) You can hate your work whatever stage you’re at. It’s completely up to you.
• Don’t rush. I know we all want to be published yesterday, but there is no harm in taking your time. Books are permanent. Once it’s printed there are no take backs. Don’t you want your best possible work out there? I’m guessing yes. So take the time it needs. If that’s a month, okay. If it’s a year, own it and make it rock.
• Be yourself. No one else can use your voice. Be proud of your style. Sometimes it’s hard to be yourself. Like when an agent will only take your manuscript if you rewrite it without the supernatural element, and you believe in that element but you also really want an agent. Or when you know your genre isn’t selling too great (or your book is just too different in general), but this other genre is hot and maybe you could write in that. In the end, you have to like what you write. If you’re not passionate about it, it shows.
So, New Writers (and everyone else), this is really just a long way to say write what you want to write, enjoy it, and work hard. Don't worry about the rest.