I was trying to think about some advice I might give to aspiring writers if say, my opinion was ever asked. No matter what we do if life, if we have any amount of success, we’ve probably learned some valuable lessons along the way. I’ve had some success. I’ve learned things. I thought I’d make a little list.
In the beginning I knew nothing about writing or publishing, had no idea what getting published entailed. I simply started writing. Then I bought a book: The Canadian Writer’s Market. I’ll never forget the day I bought that book, knowing those pages contained the very essence of my dream. Who knew there was actually a book out there that told you how and where to submit your work? Wheeeee…. I was going to be published!
See, I was pretty naive way back when.
But you learn. We all do. We do something one way and if that doesn’t work we do something else, again and again, until we get the desired results.
I’ll be honest. I’m not much of a list maker. I think I’ve mentioned that before on this blog. I blame it on being a middle child, cause we’ve got to blame our shortcomings on something. Right?
Sometimes I start out with good intentions, I set down a list of tasks I’d like to accomplish. I might even do that for a day or two, but then something goes terribly wrong. Mainly me. I lose interest and the whole idea of list making goes down the drain.
So pardon me if I make this list short. Since five seems like a nice rounded number to begin with, I’ll make this list short and sweet cause, if you’ve got to read through yet another list, I figure it should be short and easy to digest. Sometime later I’ll think of a few more things to add to the list, and maybe I will, cause surer than anything I’m going to learn a few more things as I continue to write.
So here it is.
Laura’s Little List for Aspiring Writers:
# 1. You are never as good as you think you are.
Keep this in mind when you’re first starting. In the beginning I thought I wrote some pretty clever, not to mention astounding, prose. Once that baby landed on some editor’s desk it was going to be published. I just knew it! It took me many rejections to realize that I had plenty more to learn about writing, that all these first efforts was simply practise. And that’s okay. When you learned to walk, you started out with baby steps.
# 2. Nothing you write is ever a waste of your time.
So some of us need more practise than others. That goes with all things in life. It doesn’t mean we won’t eventually master it. Of course not! You knew that. When discouragement sets in, and it surely will at some time, forget about lashing out and deleting that story you’ve worked so long and hard on.(You’re probably too old for temper tantrums.)You didn’t waste your time. I’m presently rewriting a story I wrote a few years back, bringing fresh new language, and a brand new beginning, to an already existing story. I’m happy to have that original story to look back on now. If I had deleted it in a fit of discouragement I’d be kicking my rear end about now.
# 3. While your use of words is important so is the story because every story need a good solid plot. Plot? You mean there actually needed to be a plot? A purpose to all those beautifully crafted words I was writing? A beginning, middle and an ending, plot? I thought I could wow some editor with my words alone. Nope. Something’s gotta happen. That’s just the way it is.
# 4 If you’re going to make it in the publishing world, you must learn patience. Once you have learned patience, you must relearn it, maybe even a few times until you absolutely get it. And once you’ve got it, you’ll be plagued at least one more time with impatience cause the Universe insists that you really get the lesson. I figure patience is a biggie so far as the Universe is concerned. Writing/publishing takes time. We send out our manuscripts and wait for a response, one that we’re sure will come any day. The Canadian Writer’s Market said wait three or four months before following up with a query on the status of your submission. Three or four months? I wish! Think a year, maybe longer. Editors are very busy people.
# 5. Be original. This doesn’t necessarily mean wild and crazy, unless of course you like wild and crazy. You can still write about things you know and love, but try to put a different spin on it. Tackle that subject in a way no other writer has. Come up with original turns of phrase. Remember that no one can tell that story the way you can. It’s your story, after all, and you are a distinct individual looking to discover your own unique voice in the world.
So there’s the end of my little list. Of course I have learned more that these five things. I’ve been writing for over twenty years for goodness sake, but these were the first five that came to mind. Now get out there and start practising.
If you’re a writer, I invite you to share your wisdom in the comment section and add something to my list.