My two year blog anniversary is coming up next month. I can't believe how fast the years have gone by. It seems like only yesterday I was surfing the web for tips on writing and getting started on my journey.
Today I am ever closer to reaching my goals of being a published author. I have a blog I love, a growing list of amazing subscribers, and supporters who are awesome enough to be cheering me on as I work towards that dream.
I've also taken a lot of risks, like entering writing contests and submitting to magazines, that have really helped me grow as a writer.
To commemorate these milestones, I have decided to share a few truths I've learned about the writing process.
WRITING IS HARD
I started out thinking, or maybe just hoping blindly, that writing would be easy.
I have learned that nothing could be further from the truth.
Writing is hard. Really hard. It takes time and dedication just to learn the skills needed to write well. And even more of both to apply those skills to my own creative ideas.
Each step forward is a hard-won battle against my own perfectionism.
Yeah, writing is hard. But there's also nothing else I'd rather be doing.
So, if you're just starting out, don't let this reality of the writer's life discourage you. Instead, let it prepare you for the difficult, but vastly rewarding, road ahead.
RE-WRITING IS EASIER (BUT NOT EASY)
Writing is all about re-writing. That was one of the first pieces of advice I got when I started putting pen to page.
And it's true. Nothing, at least nothing I write, is ever finished after the first draft. (If I'm being honest it isn't even "finished" after the fifth draft.)
But I have found that re-writing is easier with each new draft. It's like the story, once an ugly stone is finally giving up its brown outer shell and transforming into the gem I was hoping it could be when I first penned it.
Each layer after that polishes away a little easier until only a beautiful diamond is left.
So take heart! All of your hard work will pay off.
A GOOD VOCABULARY IS A MUST. A GREAT VOCABULARY IS BETTER.
There are so many words I don't know. Too many.
Often while I sit at my keyboard or with pen in hand, I find myself reaching for a word, the perfect word needed to relay my intended meaning, only to come up short.
I can't even begin to share the frustration of those moments.
Every day I try to learn one more, just one more word, hoping I'll have the grey matter necessary to store it for when I need it later.
But with the dictionary ever expanding I'll probably never know them all.
Still, I'll keep on, because, a good vocabulary is just one of those things a writer has to have. I join word a day newsletters, keep stacks of dictionaries and thesauruses on hand, and keep internet search engines as an easy to reach back up.
Hopefully, your search for a stellar vocabulary won't be as difficult as mine has been.
WRITERS MUST CARRY SOMETHING TO WRITE ON AT ALL TIMES.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You're in bed, just about to drift off, and an idea hits you like a ray of sunshine after a year spent beneath the earth.
Or, you're on the road, trying to get a million errands finished, and a turn of phrase slips into your head right behind your eyes just begging to be written down.
Too bad you don't have anything to use to write with.
We live in an age where our phones not only have the capacity to act as recording devices, they can also be accessed through voice commands. My point is, I live in a society that is far too advanced for me to be falling into this problem over and over.
I have no idea how many ideas, good or bad, have been lost to this graveyard of missed opportunities and poor planning.
Don't be like me. Carry something, anything, to take notes with.
EDITING IS CONFUSING.
The feeling of euphoria that comes from "finishing" a project is indescribable. By finishing, I mean simply finding the plot line I want to use and writing the draft out to its end.
Unfortunately, that's not the actual end of a project.
Now it needs to be edited.
The thing is, though I'll need to do all of the changes myself, by the time I'm at this stage in the process, I can no longer actually see what the piece I'm working on has to offer. I've just looked at it for too long, spent too much time on it. I've developed a blindness to its flaws.
So I reach out to friends, family, and faithful supporters, asking for help. I send out my precious manuscript and pace the floor while they graciously look it over.
Then they share their thoughts.
And I'm left with a draft that needs to be completely redone.
There's no easy way to say it, early feedback leads to changes. Lots of changes. Contradictory changes in some cases, like when the thoughts of one beta reader disagree with another.
Keeping careful notes of everyone's thoughts, writing your own thoughts down when you have them, and keeping a firm hold on your original vision for the draft are key components in getting through the editing process.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND FEEDBACK PARTNERS ARE AN INVALUABLE ASSET.
Writing is strange in the sense that it is both a solitary effort and one we need a lot of support to be good at.
There are just so many people who make our dreams reality.
There are those who listen to your dreams and give encouragement, then there are those who will check in everyday helping you stay on track, and then there are those who will spend weeks helping you by giving feedback on your WIP when you need it.
All of them are an invaluable asset. So, don't forget to let them know it.
Thank them. Hug them. Send them virtual chocolate. They deserve it!
No matter how much progress I make as a writer, it always feels like there is something new to learn. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
And I know I'm not the only one. So, feel free to share your hard earned writing wisdom in the comments!