You want to be a writer…
No, you aren’t imagining things. Yes, I’m blogging, and even more surprising is that I’m blogging about writing, which is something I don’t do often. I’m not a writer who likes to tell other writers how things should be done, since the one thing I know for sure, is that you can’t duplicate someone else’s experience. It’s sort of like trying to duplicate that family recipe your mom made. You might have all the same ingredients, but it’s never quite the same.
With that said, I do get my fair share of questions, but one I keep getting asked lately is, “How do I get started?” Instead of imparting instructions or a step by step guide, I’ll give you the insight I used and the wisdom I gained through the process. Again, there is no correct way because even when you think you’ve figured it out, it all changes.
Getting my butt in gear…
When I decided to write a novel, I knew nothing about writing fiction. In fact, my debut novel was my first piece of fiction. The first thing I needed to know was what I didn’t know.
I joined a website called Scribophile.com. It’s a critique site. Keep in mind, joining a critique site wasn’t enough. I knew there were several things I needed to do to prepare. I was a musician once upon a time and allowed of the things below get in my way of success, so the first thing I did was make myself a few important promises.
#1 – opened myself to feedback. I mentally prepared to be ripped to shreds by people and humbled myself to understand that I did not know what they knew, so it was okay. You need to start with thick skin, or it’s harder to get started.
#2 – accepted that people like different things. Not everyone is going to like your writing–style, subject matter, etc. Think of it like music. You don’t like every song you hear, right?
#3 – revised and revised again. The first draft was never going to be the end. I accepted that I would have to throw away work.
#4 – accepted that getting started might be very slow. I didn’t know anyone, so why would people help me? Building connections takes time and even more importantly, it takes effort.
#5 – recognized that relationships were more important that correcting someone’s comma usage.
#6 – prepared for failure, but set my goals in stages so they were easy to achieve and then kept revising them. (I’m still doing this)
#7 – recognized it is a ton of hard work.
#8 – committed that my final product would be something done right, not simply about getting it done.
#9 – accepted even if I felt in my gut that something was the way to go, if I got the same feedback from at least three different people, I needed to put my feelings aside and truly evaluate what they advised. In 100% of the cases after receiving the same piece of feedback from three or more people, I changed it and in the end it was the right decision.
#10 – accepted that the process is a marathon, not a sprint.
#11 – accepted that no one buys a novel they don’t know exists, being a writer also meant learning to be a online marketer, among many other roles. Writing alone is never enough. Learning to enjoy those other roles helped to keep me from pulling out my hair.
#12 – found my crazy confidence. Sometimes you have to be crazy enough to think you can achieve something to truly be successful. I willed myself to be confident, even when I didn’t feel it.
Once I mentally prepared myself with all of that, I was ready to start, and I did. One year after joining the site, I signed my first contract and make some great connections. That novel went on to be a finalist in many Romance Writers of America chapter contests.
The journey was painful at times, emotional and as with anything worth doing, difficult (if you do it right). However, there is nothing quite as fulfilling as getting the first email/IM/letter from a reader detailing how your efforts moved them in some way. So keep at it.
So there you have it. For me, 100% of taking the leap for me started with mentally preparing myself for the journey. Trust me, writing the manuscript is the easy part.
My next installment of Wisdom, Wit and Whine will be the hard truths I faced as an indie/small press author–the second most popular question I get asked. But don’t get too accustomed to this blogging thing, I’ve got smut to write.
Take care all!
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