Thursday, 2 May 2013

Four Hard Lessons That Changed How I Write


I've been writing for five years. I've completed seven novels, and four short stories. I've had two agents. And I've been on submission longer than anyone else on the planet ;)

If you need some tips on surviving submission click here and here.

My writing has come a long way since I wrote that first sentence; "Willard's department store was very old and very grand."

Whoa—who farted, right?

It's much better now, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

And my philosophy has improved as well. When I first started querying, I was so full of confidence, imagining three book deals with movie adaptations, I only sent out two queries.

What an idiot I was.

Imagine my shock when I received a form rejection the next day.

After many, many, many—okay you get the picture, rejections (and years) I realized my attitude toward writing needed to evolve as well as my skill with storytelling.

#1. I can't quit.   

Writing can be thrilling, exhausting, gratifying and frustrating. But we continue, even on the hardest days and after the toughest rejections because we're writers, it's what we do.

#2. My novels may never be published.

This was a tough one to swallow. Recently I made the decision to take one of my projects off submission. It is my favorite story and one that I've worked on the longest (see above opening line).

It's going to have another life, and I'll blog more about that later, but the important thing is to ask yourself why you started writing. Is it to share your stories, or to be published? Sometimes it can't be both ways and you have to figure out what you're willing to give up.

#3. Treat writing like a job.

Schedule yourself time to write. Did you get that? TO WRITE. Not to go on twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, facebook, or wattpad. It's amazing how much you can accomplish in an hour. Writing requires discipline.

#4. Write without fear.

So many times I pause during a scene, second guessing if what I'm doing is worthy of someone else's eyes. Who cares?! Keep it going. Don't leave your characters hanging! Besides, you can edit later.

I hope this resonates and helps you in your writing journey.

Many times I've wanted to quit, but I'm still writing, and I'm still hoping for that book deal. (Notice I didn't mention the movie thing).

Are there any epiphanies you'd like to share?


Anonymous said...

I would actually want to keep reading a book that started this way: "Willard's department store was very old and very grand."

That statement, to me, promises an adventure. :)

BR Myers said...

Well. You'll get your chance soon. Thanks, Linda.

Kimberlee Turley said...

Been struggling with finding time to write again. Your blog message today has been very encouraging. Because even though I haven't been grocery shopping in days, I would rather eat cold cereal for dinner and have time to write than go out to get real food (or even some milk to go with that cereal.)

Tonja Drecker said...

I wouldn't have been bothered with Willard's grand department store either. Glad to see you're still holding on and going strong - signs of a real, born writer :)

Michael Seese said...

When I first started querying, I was so full of confidence, imagining three book deals with movie adaptations, I only sent out two queries.

What an idiot I was.


Sounds like something I'VE said.

Laila N Mysis said...

Is it to share your stories, or to be published?
That WAS my epiphany, a little while back. And although I think being published would be nice, I'm leaning more towards sharing stories.

As ever, I absolutely love your outlook ^_^

Jaime Morrow said...

For me, the number one thing that has kept me writing is treating it like a job as you suggest here. I guess I figured, if I'm serious about writing then I need to act like it. It's worked wonders so far. :)

Katy Upperman said...

Oh, Bethany... This most definitely resonates with me.

Our stories are quite similar. I've got about five years of serious writing under my belt, I'm on my second agent (who I love!), and I've had a few books on submission, with too many close calls to go into here. The big thing for me is the same as your #1: I cannot quit. I'll always write, and I'm pretty sure I'll always try to become a published author. At the same time, I aim to enjoy myself, and focus on growing as a writer and a person. Otherwise I might go crazy. ;-)

Thanks for making me feel more normal!

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