It hasn’t been exactly three years to date, since I started this blog, but it’s close enough :)
In three years I’ve seen some writer’s vanish from the internet. I’ve seen some writers give up writing entirely. I’ve started seeing a couple of the people I’ve met, or followed online, start to get agents and book deals. I’ve seen some writers shift their focus from fiction to non-fiction. I’ve seen some writers quietly chug along all the while. Some friends have had babies. I’ve seen reviewers come and go, and self-publishing start to become a viable option. None of it is bad. Just different paths for different folks.
And, maybe mostly for my own benefit, here are three things I’ve learned so far:
1. Writing is not an occupation for the impatient. There’s always something to wait for, whether it’s a short story response, or an agent reply. If you sell a story there are still multiple passes that happen afterwards: editorial passes, galleys, and more waiting. It’s often difficult to know when you’ll be paid. Writing a novel is not instant gratification, either. It can take months, or years, and sometimes the process is a slog. Sometimes it feels like the end is always too far out of reach. So I’ve had to practice patience. Meditation. Yoga. There’s no rush.
2. Finding a mentor and a good group of writing friends are both invaluable. A mentor should be someone with more experience than you, who can point out your flaws. This goes beyond the call of a beta reader. Be choosy though, because listening to the wrong voices can be devastating (been there, done that). A group of writing friends who are at the same stage in their writing journey, who have the same goals, and whose feedback you trust, are also gold. It’s difficult going through this alone. One thing I’ve noticed, reading the acknowledgements in novels, is that cohorts of writers tend to succeed. I think we help each other to succeed.
3. The joy of writing is the thing. Focusing on that keeps me sane. There aren’t always many rewards, at least not for a long time after starting out. It’s easy to get distracted by all the chatter about the publishing industry, and what everyone else is doing. I want to look forward to my writing time, every day, to the story and the characters. Getting lost in a story, in the writing, is what makes all this worth it.
I guess this is a counterpoint to the bad advice I wrote about last time. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer?