Writer Stuff I Wish I’d Known…

After five attempts at writing a deep blogpost, I gave up.

I know some of you have asked about my writing journey. So I thought I’d list a few things I wish someone would’ve told me when I started out. I wasn’t blogging then, so I didn’t really have any fiction-writing mentors (though I’ll give a shout-out to Brian Jones, who is a non-fiction writer and he gave me some great tips).

It’s quite possible I wouldn’t have listened to these tips early in the game, but I hope you do!

Here we go…

1) Your first draft is not perfect, no matter how inspired you were when you scribed it. Seriously.

2) Formatting stinks, but you’ve got to do it right. Agents/editors want it to look good.

3) Queries also stink. As do proposals. Follow the guidelines. Get a second pair of eyes on those before you send them out. Then you won’t have to waste time re-submitting.

4) A great agent WILL tell you that you need to change some stuff. A bad agent WILL NOT.

5) Starting a blog is valuable. Not only is it almost expected for new authors, but it’s a great way to learn to polish/revise small snippets and to find friends interested in the same stuff you are.

6) You’ll always have to wait for something. You wait to hear from agents. You wait to hear from editors. You wait to decide what your next book is. You wait to see how your book gets reviewed (okay, not at that stage yet).

And finally:

7) At some point, you may stumble upon the realization that you are an author, and you want to remain an author, live or die. You will not listen to doubts. You will not let the waiting stop you, or the harsh critiques, or the “This is not something I’d represent” rejections. You will keep plowing forward, writing novels, until God stops you. This may or may not be a fun stage. But it might very well last for the rest of your life. So be ready, my writing friends, be ready!

15 thoughts on “Writer Stuff I Wish I’d Known…

  1. Stick with it, Botanist! I know one agent who said, "The ones who get published are the ones who don't give up," (or something along those lines). And I wish we'd met sooner, too, Jennifer! It's so hard being ALONE when those first rejections and crits come trickling in. And yes, Melissa…the infamous writerly WAIT. Sometimes it's hard to believe your stuff is indeed out there, not lost in some Internet vortex…but at least we HAVE internet now, and don't have to mail out huge paper packages with our MSes.

  2. Yes, queries and proposals do stink, and I stink at writing them! And yes, we will always be waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. And then when published, our lives will be an emotional roller coaster as we juggle projects in various stages, and pour more money and time into those projects than we make from them. Seriously, we're insane to want to be authors! Either that, or so tormented by stories and the drive to write that we just have to. Have. To. Write. πŸ™‚

  3. I know, Gwendolyn–isn't it funny how EASY writing a book seems compared with condensing it down for queries/proposals?And I think there's still more to cover, but my brain was shut down last night, Lindsay! Ha. But those were the things that stood out to me. Honestly, having online writer friends (like you!) is such a HUGE blessing I didn't have early-on, and one I'm thankful for every day!

  4. Heather,LOVE this list. I think these are some of the hardest parts about writing. There are days when I feel like I'm not just kneading (like bread) a story, but I'm crushing it, stomping on it (like wine), and it hurts. But you're right about the calling part. If it's what we're called to do, then all of the kneading, stomping, crushing, crunching, slashing, pumping, fist-flailing, crying-in-the-bathtubbing, foot-stomping, teeth-gnashing, complaining-to-my-husband-and-my-writing-sistersing, is all worth it. And it will probably all end up in a story somewhere down the road. Or a blog post. Glad I have me a few muses….

  5. Thanks for a great article, Heather! I'm at #7; I'm in it until I either die or God tells me to quit. To have just one person tell me that my God-given words have touched them is worth all of the trials I've been through. I recently signed my first book contract; that's a wonderful incentive to keep plugging away.

  6. No problem, Toni–I'm glad you perceived it as encouraging, not discouraging! All the hoops we have to jump through can be discouraging sometimes, but I do think when we reach #7, we're committed to doing whatever it takes to keep on keepin' on!

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