With 2017 already 18 days (!) old, I thought I’d like to post something for some of the aspiring writers out there who may be picking up the proverbial pen for the first time this year, or maybe giving writing another chance after a long break. If you’re new at this writing thing and happened to stumble on my site here, welcome aboard. I want you to know you’re not alone and we’re all in this together.
So with that said, here are ten quick pieces of writing advice for you.
1. It’s okay to write poorly.
Nobody is good at anything the first time they try it. You might be okay. But you’re not good yet. And you’re certainly not great. All things take practice. When you’re first starting out, you’ll make tons of mistakes. Learn from them. Learn how to identify and correct them you’re writing will continue to improve.
2. It’s okay to receive rejections.
My lifetime short story acceptance rate is 11%. That means 89% of my submissions either come back with a “no” or no response. When I was querying agents for Holy Fudgesicles, I only had 1 out of 50 agents ask for a full manuscript to review. You have to accept that you will receive rejections and realize that they are a necessary part of writing.
3. It’s okay to take breaks.
Everybody feels burned out sometimes.The key is to make sure you don’t get so burned out that you want to quit. If writing is important to you, take a little break when it stops being fun. It’s good for not only your sanity, but for the sanity of the people around you as well.
4. It’s okay to put it aside.
If you’ve got a story you’re working on and then end up getting stuck, put it aside. Nobody is pointing a gun to your head forcing you to work on a story that isn’t going anywhere. File it away in your work-in-progress folder and work on something else for a bit. Go back to it with a fresh head at a later date and see how you can surprise yourself.
5. It’s okay to try something new.
You don’t have to confine yourself to one genre, especially if you’re a new writer. Try writing what you enjoy, but what you like to read may not be what you’re best at writing. As I’ve said before, I love horror, but I also write fantasy, science fiction, and Young Adult. Try everything because you never know which area will be your strongest.
6. It’s okay to make this a priority.
Is writing important to you? You wouldn’t be here reading this blog if it wasn’t. So make it a priority. If that means telling people “No, I have to write” sometimes, than that’s what it means. It also means you’re going to have to give up something to focus on writing. I would recommend giving up network television, but that’s just me 🙂
7. It’s okay to ask for help.
Writing is a solitary thing, but that doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. There are all sorts of places to seek advice or feedback. You can join Facebook groups, online forums, or critique groups. Or local a writing group or guild. And you’ve always got the option of asking friends for feedback. Just make sure it’s honest feedback.
8. It’s okay to feel down sometimes.
Let me tell you a secret: I feel down all the time. Like I’m not writing fast enough, submitting enough, or growing this blog enough. But that’s okay. Building a writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. So when you are feeling down about stuff, list all of your minor accomplishments for the week. You won’t believe how quickly they add up. It will help your attitude and keep you writing.
9. It’s okay to let life get in the way sometimes.
Here’s another thing. While writing may be a large priority in your life, there are still things that are more important. Real life will occasionally get in the way. And when it does, you just have to deal with it. I try to minimize some of my daily routine stuff in order to make more time for writing. But just be aware that when something more important than writing comes up, you have to deal with it. Your computer won’t even know you’re gone.
10. It’s okay to write just for the fun of it.
I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the business of writing. But you know what? It’s okay to not care about the business side. I often forget that there are thousands of people out there who write simply for fun. As a hobby. And if that’s you, great! Enjoy and keep at it. And don’t let anyone tell you you need to focus on making money writing.
So that is it. I wish any new writers out there the best. Have a great year and if you are writing fiction for the first time in your life this year, leave a comment and let us know how it’s going!