Saturday, 31 December 2011
What I have learned...
The end of the year is a great time to look back, reflect, and see where you have come in life.
So I have been wrung through the ringer more than a few times as a writer this year gone past, and I have learned more than a few things about this business. Does it mean I am now signed and making the big bucks? No...but it does mean that I know a thing or two about the mistakes you can make as a writer just starting out in this big mean world of publishing. So, for your new year's enjoyment, and in no particular order, here we go!
1. You have to keep writing, no matter what.
Umn, duh? You think to yourself, this is your first tip for becoming an author? Actually, yes...this is one of the most important things I can ever express. You see, no matter how many classes you take, no matter what others tell you about your work, or how many degrees you hold. You will only get better at writing in one way, practice. More writing you do? The better it will get.
2. When you have finished a work, no matter what size it is, put it away for some time.
But again, wait! I want to submit a query, get that agent and start earning all that money I heard writers make...Well here is some more news you don't want to hear. Your work is much like a fine wine, the longer you let it sit the better it will become. After you let it sit, and then give it an edit, you use eyes that don't already know what the words are supposed to be. I am speaking from learned experience on this one. You see, I made this mistake. I typed in THE END and started looking for my agent. It was a vast mistake; I didn't know the level of work needed to clean up my "finished" work. It wasn't even close to finished and I only burned a few bridges that might have been useful to save for later. Let your work sit. I can't say it enough.
3. Let people read it.
Yes, I am the king of the obvious. Yet so many people guard their work and hold it so close, scared that their perfect idea will be so appealing to others they must protect it for all it's worth. Well, to be honest, it probably isn't. Even the ideas I thought were so original, so unheard of, that I must protect them like gold turned out to be done by others years ago. I have never heard of the writers, or read their works, but the ideas were close enough to be a bit odd sometimes. Get yourself a group of people whom you trust to be honest, and get them to tear into your work, literally. The feedback you can get from a good reader is worth more than money, and to ignore that avenue will cost you even more in the long run.
4. Social Media can be your friend, but don't overdo it.
For ever person trying to become an author, there are 100's of others out there just like you. Seriously, when I started out a few years back I really had no idea the pool of talent that is available in the writing world. I started following pretty much anyone on twitter that was a writer and tried to glean any useful information I could from them. Often they would be very helpful, while sometimes others would be cold, in the end I found out that some of the ones I held up high on a pedestal, were really just beginners like myself, and some of the meek people who stayed back from the front lines, were the ones with the most information, and often the nicest. There are a lot of people out there willing to help new writers. Find them and your writing will be better for it.
5. Don't expect to get rich.
Yep, of the literally 1000's of writers and authors I know, very...VERY...few make much money at it. If you have a day job, keep it. Write in your spare time if it is what you love. Cram it in when you have the free minutes; carry a notepad to write your thoughts down. If you are like me they will come to you at the oddest moments. I have been trapped without a notepad before, and resorted to texting myself, or my wife, the information so I could remember it later. However, there comes a time when you do have to take a chance. Don't be afraid to stick your neck out when you have to.
6. Be true to yourself.
Yes, in the end, it is all up to you. Trust in yourself and your writing. If you are writing for you, than the only opinion that really matters is yours. If you are writing in the hopes of making money, trust that your skills are there and you can always learn more about your craft. When you stop learning, you stop living. (Yes I stole that quote, 10 points if you know whom it is from, without google )
Thanks for letting me drag you along the rough road that can be my blog this last year. I am looking forward to the next year, and new even weirder posts, with you all.