Today's post is brought to you via the special blogfest, How I Found the Write Path, hosted by Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo. The Prompt: Write a letter to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. Details here.
Dear Younger Self,
You know how you hope you'll make a huge success of yourself, buy a mansion with an ocean view from your earnings as a bestselling author, and won't be able to walk down the street without being accosted by fans begging for your autograph? Good news: You can still walk down the street without getting mobbed by fans. Go you! Bad news: You didn't become an author until much, much later in life. Why? Because you quit. Dumbest thing you ever did.
Writing in dribbles--a couple of paragraphs a month or a handful of pages here and there--will mean it'll take you nine years to finish your first novel. Seriously, girl? You want to take nine years to write a book? Waiting for inspiration is one of your first mistakes, though not your biggest.
Your biggest mistake, apart from quitting, was having a totally skewed idea of what it takes to get published. You didn't do the research, you didn't put in the hours, and you gave up before you hit any kind of momentum. Surprise, surprise, there's a business side to writing if you want to get published. It's not easy for a dreamer like you, but neither is it impossible. Remember that.
Here's what you're getting right:
You are reading a lot. That's the best thing you can do so keep reading. Don't turn your nose at different genres. Read anything you can get your hands on. Even non-fiction. You'll notice a difference in your writing when you expand your exposure to a variety of styles and story types.
You are currently fearless when it comes to writing. Hold onto that fearlessness. You'll need it when you start reading How-To books on the craft or sharing your work with others outside your family. That's when you'll start to think you are doing it all wrong and the first doubts will come nipping at your ankles. Continue to write what you love, not what you think other people will love.
Here's what you could improve on:
Write every day. Don't be afraid to draw up a writing schedule. It might seem regimental to your creative self, but you'll revel in it. Same goes with outlining. Get over the fantasy that outlining is somehow less organic and creative, and give it a go already. You'll thank me later. Write more short stories to hone your skills. Attend more workshops. Find a critique group and enjoy the support and encouragement of other writers. Only other writers can truly understand what it's like to be a writer.
One last piece of advice: Write down your ideas. No matter how certain you'll remember those ideas, trust me when I say, you won't.
And, whatever you do, don't quit, you big goose!
Lynda R Young
Author of speculative short stories and YA novels.