Motivational Monday ~ Tips for the Newbie Writer (Hint: Don’t Stop Writing)

10 Sep

Author Alison Stone as seen through the eyes of her 8-year-old daughter. Alison loves to write poolside, as reflected in the drawing!

This blog post originally appeared on Savvy Authors. If you’re an author, this site is a fantastic resource. I highly recommend you check it out and join! Here is the original link on www.SavvyAuthors.com.

However, I have posted it below in its entirety:

I’ve sold three books in the past thirteen months. Cue the fireworks. Sounds great, right? It is, don’t get me wrong. I am ecstatic. Finally! It took me a long time to get to this point. Let’s see, I joined RWA in 2002 and attended my first regional conference that fall. I signed with my wonderful agent in 2006 and thought success was imminent. (I had every reason to hope as I worked on revisions with a NY publishing house that same year.) Unfortunately, they passed on the book. That’s a polite way of saying it got rejected. The big R.

In the ten years since I joined RWA, I had my fourth child, I watched my oldest grow from an adorable first grader to a handsome high school junior, I filled my hours with tons of volunteer work, and I doubted whether the time I spent writing was worth it.

If only I could rewind time and tell myself a few key things, I truly believe my journey to publication would have been much shorter. But I also believe sometimes you have to go through life to learn its lessons. Hope you can learn from mine.

1. You will be successful. It may not happen when you want or how you expect, but you will become a published author. Of course, there’s no way I could have known this for sure, but I would have proceeded much more confidently if I had only believed in myself. I love the quote, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” (~Robert H. Schuller) If I had had this mindset firmly implanted in my head, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time doubting my abilities. These doubts hurt my productivity. You know that annoying little voice: Why am I wasting my time writing when I could be (you fill in the blank)?

2. Don’t stop writing. The twelve or so months when I was working back and forth with the NY editor in 2006, I didn’t write anything new. I was one hundred percent wrapped up in revisions. When the manuscript didn’t sell, it threw me off my writing game for a little while. And of course the editor asked me if I had anything else. I didn’t.

3. Guard your time. If the PTA needed a president, I was their gal. Someone to do the yearbook. Yep, that was me, too. I’m not suggesting you hole up in your writer’s cave and never do anything else. The world needs volunteers and writers need outside activities to refill the creative well. But you don’t have to do everything. Pick one or two activities you enjoy and learn to say no. Mental note to self: You still need to learn to say no. 

4. Reach out to other POSITIVE writers. I enjoy the fellowship of other writers. However, it’s important to make sure you associate with positive writers. There’s nothing worse than a Debbie Downer telling you how impossible it is to get published. That type of thinking is contagious. I know I got sucked in once or twice. (Reread #1.)

5. Set time limits on the Internet. Simple, right? I’m still working hard on that one. All the social media in the world isn’t going to help you if you don’t have a quality book to sell.

6. Be realistic. Is your frustration stemming from not writing a book in one month? Is this a realistic expectation? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Sit down and evaluate your goals and other commitments you can’t give up. (A day job, perhaps.) If you set reasonable goals you can achieve and still advance your writing, you might be happier than setting yourself up for failure. I often found not meeting goals sent me in a downward spiral where I wouldn’t write at all because I felt I wasn’t writing fast enough. Find what works for you. Success in meeting your goals breeds more success.

7. You have more than one shot at this. As I write this, the 2012 Olympics have just gotten underway. These athletes have trained for a lifetime to get (perhaps their only) shot at an Olympic medal. Writing is another kind of discipline. Creating a well-crafted, publishable novel is hard work, but we have more than one chance to send our work into the world. I know writers who are paralyzed with fear. Don’t be so afraid that you never take a chance. Write the best book you can at this moment in your career and send it into the world. Then get to work on the next one.

8. Enjoy the journey. Celebrate each milestone along the way. So many people say they’d like to write a book. How many people do it? Writing is hard work and the work doesn’t stop when you get “the call.” So when you’re feeling particularly excited about a scene you just wrote or if you’re pleased with your partial, savor that feeling and use it to push you toward your next goal.

The world of publishing is changing daily. Back when I submitted my first completed manuscript, limited publishers accepted what I wrote. So when they rejected my manuscript, I was dead in the water. Now, e-pubs and self-publishing open a whole new world. All are viable options. Even though my dream was always to be published with a traditional publisher, knowing there were other options took the pressure off. And that’s when it happened. I just wish I had had the confidence from day one to write as if I knew it always would.

If you’re a writer, is there anything you’ve learned over the years you wish you knew right from the beginning?

Cheers,

Alison Stone

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3 Responses to “Motivational Monday ~ Tips for the Newbie Writer (Hint: Don’t Stop Writing)”

  1. Julie Jarnagin September 10, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    These are great & so true!

  2. Helen Jones September 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    great blog and even better advice. I especially like number one.

  3. Alison Stone September 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Thanks Julie and Helen. I am getting back into a ms tonight and I think I need to re-read my own advice. 🙂

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