I’m always trying to improve my writing, so I went to a site that had tips from published authors. I have to say that I was surprised by some of them. For example:
The first twelve years are the hardest.
Well, that’s probably encouraging for aspiring writers to hear.
Don’t have children.
Okay, that’s just bad advice. Writing can be a 24/7 job. It can easily fill all of your time. That doesn’t mean you should let it. So I’m offering my own tips to writers.
1) Don’t let writing consume your life. Life is about relationships, not books. Don’t sacrifice your relationships for your work. (I do recommend letting some of the housework go, though.)
2) It takes a lot of hours to learn any craft and even more hours to master it. (Does anyone ever master writing? I’m not sure.) In the book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become successful at a specific task. (I am well over this limit when it comes to eating chocolate.) Don’t quit writing too soon. Put in the hours (but see rule number one).
3) Learning the craft requires you to practice—to actually write stuff—but it also requires you to learn the rules of plotting, characterization, dialogue, etc. I’m always surprised at how many people want to publish their first manuscript when they’ve never read a book on writing, never gone to a class on the subject, etc. This would be like teaching yourself to play the piano without ever taking a lesson from someone who already knows how to play the piano. You can do it, but you’ll be a lot better if you learn from a pro.
4) There are some things about writing you can only learn by reading a lot. (Pacing, for example.) If you want to write, read lots of novels. Learn to analyze what you read. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t. You’ll learn to avoid the things that you dislike in other books.
5) Remember that publishing is a business. Yes, editors and agents love books. That’s why they’re in this business, but they buy/represent books for one reason: they think they’ll make money. Because of this, a lot of things that happen in the writing industry have to do with the business and not with you personally. You can be a great writer, and still get rejected. In fact, all the great writers have been rejected.
6) I suggest a degree in marketing. Getting published doesn’t guarantee your book any sort of success. Your book is competing against literally millions of other titles for readers’ time and money. Unless you are one of the few lead titles at your publisher, you won’t get much help from them to market your book. If you know how to market, you’re already ahead in the game.
7) Do what you can to market your book, but refer to rule number one.
8) Remember why you started writing in the first place. It was because you loved writing, right? If it wasn’t, this is perhaps a good time to quit and find an easier career. No rejection letter, no horrible revision letter, no bad review, no absentee marketing team, etc. (and there will be lots of etc.) can take away the joy of writing. Writing is magical. Write because you love the magic.
9) Be kind to other writers. They are your tribe, not your competition. They understand. Develop friendships with them. They need you too.
10) Keep on writing. Only one person can determine whether you’re a writer or not. You.