9 Things A Beginning Writer Should Know

1. Don’t think too highly of yourself. As good as they seem at the time, your first drafts are never perfect.

2. Don’t think too poorly of yourself. No matter how bad a first draft seems while you’re writing it or after it’s finished, it’s rarely terminal.

3. Develop a thick skin. Some of the best advice you’ll receive will also be some of the most critical. If delivered by someone who is interested in helping you become the best writer possible, put aside hurt feelings and indignation and PAY ATTENTION. The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy.

4. Critics don’t know everything and don’t always speak for the buying public. Sometimes, critics are writing to gain the approval of other critics, to show how open-minded or clever or smart they are. Sometimes, critical acclaim has less to do with the quality of the work in question and more to do with the critic wanting to be part of the in crowd.

5. Critics do know some things and sometimes have their finger on the pulse of the buying public. Not all critics fall into the category above. Some are honest and unconcerned with what their peers think of them. Sometimes even those whose options are guided more by popular culture than what’s honestly good know what they’re talking about.

The point is that you should never, never, never base the success or failure of your latest work or your career on the opinions of critics. Give more weight to those critics whose comments concern the ‘meat and potatoes’ of craft and a little less weight, maybe, to those whose comments read more like a high school popularity contest. You will learn to tell the difference.

You may have to deal with critics until after all your hard work has paid off. Just take warning to  let critics and their opinions be guides, not the be all and end all.

6. Finishing a novel is hard work. Anyone who tells you otherwise has never written a novel or is a protege. It takes hours of time and effort at a computer, hammering out words, stringing together phrases and events into a finished whole. You’ll have to battle procrastination, outside distractions, internal distractions, times when things are going well and times when things aren’t going at all. Go into the battle aware that these things will happen and they won’t take you by surprise.

7. Editing a novel is hard work. You thought writing the novel was difficult? Wait until you rewrite it. And you WILL have to rewrite it because no first draft (or very few) are perfect (see #1). In fact, you may have to take the whole thing apart and put it together in ways that are unimaginable while you’re writing the first draft.

8. Selling a novel is hard work. You thought writing and rewriting, polishing and fine-tuning were hard!

9. Marketing your work is necessary. Believe it or not, no one knows the ins and outs of your story like you do. You are the only true expert on the story you wrote, the reasons you wrote it, and the process of getting from idea to publication. Consequently, no one can talk up your book like you can. If you don’t do it, the chances of reaching your audience are greatly reduced. 

Question For You
What do you find to be the hardest part of the writing life?

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