10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself When I Started Writing
Firsts in Fiction
10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself When I First Started Writing:
- (Aaron) “You’re going to make it. Don’t give up.” It’s easy to believe that you’ll never make it as a writer. I spent a lot of years not taking writing seriously, believing it be a bit of a pipe dream. It’s only when I started taking myself seriously and believing this that I started writing consistently, which is why I got published in the first place.
- (Alton/Pops) “Remember, every published book is a ‘How-To’ book you can learn from.” The best writing education I’ve received came from studying the work of others. I had to learn to do more than read, I had to analyze, deconstruct, and ask, “So what does this writer have to teach me.” This required trading reading for pleasure to reading for technique.
- (Aaron) “Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.” It was always easy for me to rationalize buying a new laptop because I used it for work. But when it came to spending money investing in my writing career by going to a writer’s conference, I was reluctant. Once Pops brought me along, my career took off.
- (Pops) Learning that no one ever hit a homerun from a dugout. It was up to me to be bold, brave, and willing to fail. Once I got over that then started taking my “at bats.” Fear is a poison. I would tell my earlier self, “Shut up and put on your cowboy pants.”
- (Aaron) “Read more. Seriously.” Early on when I first started writing, it took me a while to accept the fact that good writers read. I spent a lot of time writing garbage. Once I started reading critically and analyzing fiction, I became a much better writer.
- (Pops) Love the work. Forget about fame and fortune. Love the art of writing. Too many beginners love themselves more than the art they serve. Like singers who want to heard instead moving their audience, new writers often have the wrong goals. I would tell my younger self, “Forget about yourself; never forget about your reader.” The best way to love yourself is to love your work and your reader.
- (Aaron) “Prioritize your writing.” It took me years to think of myself as a writer even though I wrote regularly. I figured because I wasn’t published, I wasn’t a “real” writer. Also, it was very easy for me NOT to write if I wasn’t REALLY a writer. Once I prioritized my writing, developed a support system of friends and family, things started happening for me. But I had to really scale back on quite a few other hobbies I enjoyed to make the time for it.
- I would tell myself, “A whining writer is seldom a winning writer.” The work is wonderful torture. Yes, it is hard. It’s supposed to be. When things get tough, lean in to it all the more. Sometimes new writers remind me of the mountain climber scaling Everest and complaining, “Hey, no one told me this would be difficult.”
- (Aaron) “Don’t be too hard on yourself.” It’s easy to begin thinking about how bad you are and to lose sight of the fact that we’re all learning. Focus on getting better and learning, not on how bad your first draft may be.
- Writing is an art and a craft. Art moves the soul. Craft impresses the mind. A great idea for a wonderful painting doesn’t mean the painting will be easy. There are things to learn, and 20 years from now you’ll still be learning. And that’s one of the wonderful things about writing.