Hey ya'll! Today I'm going to be talking about 5 things I wish I could go back and tell my younger writer self. The writing journey is a hard one. I've cried some days, prayed every day. It isn't always joyful. Sometimes you want to give up. Back when I had first started out writing novels, I was working on my YA fantasy CONCEALED, and I thought it would be the one. It was my first book, and far, FAR from a perfect one (or even publishable one haha), but I was young and inexperienced and I was sure agents would just grab it up. I went into the query process with a similar mindset, so when I started getting rejections and comments saying the premise wasn't unique enough, I was devastated. I had just spent two years writing a book that would never be published?! It was a rocky time for me, and it affected my writing. I didn't work on a novel for TWO YEARS after that. Two years!! I can't even believe that now, but it happened. I worked on and queried other things (mainly picture books), but I didn't start writing WHAT LIES ABOVE until just before my seventeenth birthday, two years later. Maybe if I would have known these 5 things as younger me, I wouldn't have let those two years go by. Of course, I wouldn't change a thing, because those years brought me to where I am now. I'm just glad I can use that experience to help and encourage other writers - new ones and not so new ones, beginners just starting out, and those pushing through their fifth or sixth novel. It takes determination. I'm on book #3 now, and I've had lots of ups and downs! But I love writing. I love telling stories! And if I could go back and tell newbie me 5 things, it would be these:
1. Your first novel might not be the one. As I said in the story above, I was overly zealous about my first novel. It's great - necessary actually - to have faith in your projects. With all the rejection that comes with being a writer, you have to keep the faith or you'll be crushed under the disappointment. Rejection doesn't mean you should give up. But you should also be optimistically cautious when querying, and prepare yourself for that rejection. Realize that your first, second, or even fifth book might not be the one, and be okay with that. Remind yourself that you write not to be published, but because you love it, and you can't not write without characters knocking around in your brain trying to get out :-)
2. Backup your writing. I learned this the hard way, and I'll write a whole post about it in the future. Let's just say I lost parts of my writing on two separate occasions - once when I had a flash drive malfunction and deleted the wrong file, leaving me with an earlier version of my manuscript (one without revisions). Then, my computer crashed and I lost my fully revised finished copy, leaving me once again with an earlier version. Backup your writing in multiple places. A full-length post coming soon about this, including how I personally safeguard my work.
3. Don't wait to write until you feel like it or you're inspired. Of course, do write when you're inspired, but don't only write then. Write through the writing blocks and through the scenes you know are horrible. You can always go back and edit later, but you need to keep moving. I will also be posting a full-length article about this, coming soon...
4. Don't write to get published. I can't stress this enough. When you're writing, don't ask yourself "will an agent/editor/publisher/reader like this", especially in the first draft. Of course, you might want to consider that as you revise, but not so much that it distorts the story you want to tell. I used to ask myself if an agent would like/want to represent my manuscript all the time when I was writing my first novel CONCEALED. All the time! Now, that thought is still tucked into the back of my head, but I let the words flow freely as much as possible, especially in the first draft. Even as a published author, that first draft belongs to you, so treat it like so. Write because it's your love. Your passion. Publication is just an added benefit - being able to share that passion with the world. But never lose sight of why you do it. Never lose sight of that love.
5. Writing is hard. Simple as that. But it is so rewarding to write those words: "the end". Even with the second, fifth, or twentieth finished manuscript, typing those two words never loses its joy. Don't give up. Even when you're tired. Even when you're discouraged. Even when you see all these other writers finding agents and getting published and you feel like it will never happen to you. Keep writing!
If you could go back and talk to your beginning writer self, what would you say? Share below!