I am, by no means, an “expert” at this writing thing. I continue to make mistakes like it’s my job, and will probably continue to do so—much to the chagrin of my Jedi Agent.
That said, I read certain things on FB or Twitter that make me wince, while resisting the urge to pat their head and say, “I thought that was a good thing once, too.”
So what are these things I’d love to say to the newbie? The same things I would tell myself if I had to do it over again.
Take your introvert self up by the neck and shake her until she stops being so damn scared to get out there. The Internet is not the enemy. You are if you don’t use it. Google your ass off. First search should be: genre, word count. I think this my first, biggest misconception. Thinking more words is best. It’s just not true.
Here’s your chance to give in to your inner STALKER! Stalk publishers, agents, and every writer you find. Make it your life’s mission to learn from them. I swear they won’t mind.
A reader does not a writer make. Yes, reading is a must if you want to be a writer, but that doesn’t make you a know-it-all. It doesn’t even necessarily make you a good story-teller (or show-er, actually). There are tons of online workshops that’ll teach you everything you need to know. Joining your local writer’s association won’t hurt a bit, either. I swear. Best thing I ever did—ten years later. Thanks for that, Introvert Me. Bang up job holding me back.
Your family is lying to you. Stop lying to yourself by believing every word they say just because it’s positive feedback. What you need is another writer going through this right along with you. Or even better, someone well into this process who can show you where you’re going wrong. Don’t know where to find one of those? Refer back to NUMBER TWO. My best crit partner—the most honest person I know—is another writer I stalked on the Internet.
Rules are guidelines, not the end all, be all. You shouldn’t follow friends off a bridge, and the same goes for those rules. Keep them in mind, but you can’t always be true to the story if you have to force it into shape according to what some rule told you.
If you had to do this all over again, what advice would you give yourself?