If you asked me today, what piece of advice I’d give to someone who’s just starting out as a writer, I’d say this: Just breathe. Breathe and write, and don’t worry about the rest.
A novel is a marathon, not a sprint
Don’t let yourself get caught up in trying to be the best, or the youngest, or the fastest when you’re starting out as a writer. None of that matters. The only thing you should concern yourself about is you. Writing is a journey for your soul. How will your journey change you? What are your characters going to teach you about yourself? What will the worlds you create show you about the world in which you live?
It’s exciting, isn’t it?
Here are a few things my novel has taught me
I don’t need to be THE best. I only need to do MY best.
It’s not worth my time to worry about being better than other writers. I’m not in competition with them. Readers want an emotional experience. That’s why comps are so important when you’re pitching–agents and publishers want new titles with similar emotional beats to old favorites.
I don’t need to try to top a bestseller list. I just need to write a story that resonates with me, because that’s the story that’s also going to resonate with readers.
When you’re starting out as a writer, you don’t need to worry about sales or numbers. Just focus on writing a story you can pour your feelings into.
Perfectionism hurts more than it helps
I have a whole post about perfectionism because the idea that your book needs to be perfect right from the start is a little silly. It’s okay to make mistakes in a first draft. If you stress yourself out over writing a perfect book on the first go, you might never finish it.
Don’t be afraid of the red pen
Eventually you’re going to send your story off to someone else to critique or edit. They’re going to find problems. That’s normal. It’s better for an editor to find your issues before you publish than for readers to find them and give you bad reviews after the fact.
I’ve done my fair share of critiques. Trust me, there’s very little an editor hasn’t seen. Mistakes happen to everyone, not just those of you who are just starting out as a writer, and they’re nothing to be embarrassed about. Just fix them and move on.
It doesn’t matter how you write as long as you’re writing
Pen and paper, typewriter, computer, cell phone, whatever. The medium doesn’t matter. Do you plan your story out or write by the seat of your pants? Do you write your whole story from beginning to end, or do you skip scenes, start in the middle, start at the end, or do something totally different?
The only thing that matters is your contentment with your process. Part of starting out as a writer is creating or discovering your own system or routine.
When you’re starting out as a writer, focus on yourself first
You can worry more about your audience when you reach the editing stage. I think it’s important for beginners to use their early works as exploration. It’s good to have goals, but don’t let your goals get in the way of your words.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out as a writer? Please feel free to leave a comment.
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