So you always see those posts, “All the things nobody warned me about X-Y-Z ,” and I have found it is often…total baloney.
People I’ve personally warned about something later made a big deal about how no one warned them! 😛
I think we feel unwarned because the experience is so different than hearing about it. We can romanticize the idea of a challenge, but the shock of reality can disguise our circumstances, convincing us that we are a victim who doesn’t have the resources or the support to succeed.
So here are the things I read or heard as I started writing that I didn’t quite understand until I experienced them.
- Writing something complex can take a long time. I always try to fight this and say that I should already be publishing my fantasy novel. But every time I make the decision to let go and allow the story to ripen naturally, a new connection happens that makes it bigger, better, and more exciting to work on. 1.5 Something to help with this: have shorter projects and exercises so that you don’t get bogged down in the lengthy process of a long novel or series. Write short stories, or play with other genres in word prompts, etc.
This is something I’m still struggling to keep in balance.Update: Thankfully, I’m not still struggling with this because I got a coach who is helping me knock out a much shorter nonfiction project and website BEFORE I start pitching any fiction. It took awhile to figure out this timeline for my writing, but I’m happy with the choice I made to do this.
- Do. Not. Throw writing away. No matter how much you hate something you’ve written, keep it. If you need to hide it where you can’t find it for five years, that’s fine, but re-discovering things I’ve written has brought stories back to life in dark moments where I was ready to throw in the pen.
- If something isn’t working…freakin’ do something else! Do not keep forcing something that is boring and that you don’t enjoy. DO hang on to the dream that started your story, DO continue to love it even when it gets difficult, DO keep your writing – but do something to grow as a writer every single day so that you can tackle it from new angles.
- Feed your creativity. I used to think that feeding my creativity was actually sitting down to write my book. Now I know that the book is the outflow of my creativity, not the food. The food is what nourishes, the story is the work. It’s the best and most fulfilling and beautiful work that I know, but it is work. And that feeding process needs to be happening every day, even if you aren’t currently writing every single day.
- Get involved with other people, especially writers. This is what truly got me to believe I could write. My family was so encouraging as I shared with them what I was doing. Peers in writing industries would let me ramble through the stories from my head and talk to me about story crafting. I was in a group for NaNoWriMo where I often received advice to make sure I kept writing, no matter what, even if it was horrible – to just get things on paper.
- …But not for the sake of editing. I had my writing critiqued too early. I don’t regret it, because at the time I had no idea what the first step to writing a book was. I made a mistake in this for sure, and in some ways in slowed me down, but the truth is – it’s okay. I may not have held on to the dream if it hadn’t been for the RELATIONSHIPS I formed as I basically threw myself and my writing out there. My husband always says, it’s easier to steer a moving car. I got the car rolling for my dream of writing, and I made some wrong turns along the way, but at least I’m not still sitting back in the garage, rusting. In fact, I’m farther than I admit most of the time!
- Learn everything you possibly can. For awhile I thought that I had overdone this, because I tend to be really good at practicing things and filling my head with information and less confident applying the skills. But writing was where that tendency found its purpose in my life. I love to collect things in my brain, it’s my built in encyclopedia. And the skill is, seriously, just writing stuff down. Any form, any fashion of it. That’s how you become a writer, by writing.
So there they are. I can’t say I wasn’t warned!
What things were you warned about when you started writing?