Advice for aspiring writers

It’s hard to stare at a blank screen, even when your heart is burning and you have the desire to pour your soul out onto the page before you. What if what comes out sounds crazy, doesn’t make sense, or is full or errors? Should you go over what you write as you write, reading it over for mistakes before you move on to the next portion of writing? What if what you write sounds good to you, but it gets rejected over and over, would it even be worth the time it takes to write it?

Here’s my two cents. JUST WRITE. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece the first time around. It’s called a rough draft for a reason. There’s always time to go back, to edit and revise what you’ve written.

Here’s the thing, if you are afraid to get it wrong, you can restrict the flow or your creativity, and it can make it hard for anything to come out at all. Stop doubting yourself, get a pen and paper, sit behind your computer screen, get out that old family typewriter….however you choose to get the words out, just do it! Write until the screen is full of words, until your hands are smeared with ink, or until your pencil has been sharpened into a nub. Not all of it will be good, heck, some of it might be terrible, but at least you’ve gotten the words down on a page. The most important thing is to write, because then you have something to work with. Stop doubting yourself, being a perfectionist is not going to help you here, at least not in this stage of writing.

Once you have written yourself out, put it away. Do your best not to think about it for a few days. Do something else. If you have a craft or a hobby, take your free time to do this. Take an extra shift at work. Take your kids to the park. Keep yourself busy so you can keep what you’ve written out of your mind. Then, after several days, go back to what you’ve written earlier and look at it with fresh eyes. Go through it and edit or revise it now, fix spelling errors, strike out things that don’t work, change sentences into deeper, more free flowing ones. Develop the ideas that were raw into ones that have a stronger foundation, expand on your ideas, and tidy up what were rough ideas when you first wrote them.

The raw material you let flow freely from you earlier has given you material to work with, and that is the most important thing. Don’t let it be censored due to fear, the more you write, the more you have to work with.

Also know it’s ok to take a break from writing. Some people advise to be a writer you need to write every day. Maybe this is true for some writers, but for myself I don’t find this to be true. While I love to write, it is also important for me to wind down, relax and recharge. It’s important to find out what works for you, and to do that. Sometimes it takes a while to find out what works for you too, and that’s okay. This is your journey, travel it as only you can.

As far as being afraid of your writing being rejected, just accept it as inevitability. Every writer gets rejected; it’s going to happen. I saved all of my rejection slips in a folder. I use them to remind myself just how far I am willing to go to make my dreams of being a published author come true.

Each rejection should be treated as a badge of honor. It’s a right of passage all writers have to endure. Yes, some rejections were nice and gave me exceptional advice on how to better my story, on what I was doing correctly and what I was doing wrong. Others were downright vicious, and one even made me cry. I’ve had one editor tell me there wasn’t enough emotion from my characters to the point my story was dull and dry, and another tell me it was so over emotional to the point of being overly dramatic and unreadable. I’ve had responses all over the place in my journey to be an author, and the truth is, I almost gave up. After a year and a half of trying to find my novel a home, I was almost sure I had to at least stop for a while, let my manuscript cool off, and then try to revise it all over again one more time. Either that, or just let it go altogether.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up! Being a writer means you must be full of determination and perseverance, even when you don’t think there is a publisher left on the planet who would take your work. Don’t. Give. Up.

Of course, make sure you’re submitting your best work. Check and recheck your spelling and grammar. Edit, revise, and revise again. When you’re certain your manuscript is at it’s peak of perfection, then go for it, and don’t look back.

I’ll be looking for you on the best seller’s list! 😉

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