Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!
I know that some individuals frown upon the word “aspiring” when referencing writers. But it’s fitting because not all writers have published work online or in a magazine or even created their blog (yet). So, for those of you who are new to the game and have yet to experience the odds and ends of writing, I share three things I wish someone told me when I started.
- Be 100% sure your work is ready before you query.
One of the things I did early in my ‘writerly’ journey was query literary agents. My novel was finished (or so I thought), and I had it edited. I could not understand why I kept receiving rejections until I sucked up the courage to enter a pitch competition. I sent out the first five pages of my manuscript, and the editor (who I can now admit was hard but fair) pointed out my story needed structure and work on the plot, etc. My feelings were hurt, but after I got over my initial embarrassment, I realized what she said was true. I did not know at the time that there were so many types of editors, and if you don’t have the right one, it can make or break your story. I only used a line editor. What I needed was a developmental editor—one who would help me with the organization and structure needed for my story. The editor I’m working with now is fantastic!
2. Join a critiquing group.
After my pitch competition debacle, I joined a writing group that opened my eyes to the writing process. I discovered the “hero’s journey,” character development, structure, plot, world-building, etc. I also developed a harder skin when it comes to receiving critiques from peers. I felt like Lilo sometimes LOL! I was with them for about three years and created a second novel in the process! I live in a pretty creative town filled with writing groups for different age groups, genres, and stages in my writing journey. Plus, it allowed me to connect with people with shared interests!
3. Writers never stop learning.
Early this month, I graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing and English. I felt that I needed to pursue this degree because I was missing something as a writer. Not only does a book require a foundation, but so does the writer. As I’ve mentioned in the past, no one comes out of the womb, a professional writer. It’s a process that takes years to develop, and you never stop learning. Each time a writer creates a new book, it entails research, constant revisions, communicating with those who may know more than you, etc. Some feel that pursuing a degree is a waste of time. But the growth I experienced within the last few years and the work I put in was worth it. If you are not interested in a degree, find other ways to enhance yourself as a writer: Attend writing conferences, read and read some more (in your chosen genre), and, as I mentioned above, associate with other writers. We tend to rub off on each other! LOL!
Are there things you wish you knew when you started writing? I welcome you to share your stories!