This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the July 5 posting of the IWSG will be Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan!
Yay, it’s IWSG posting day!
What are my insecurities this month? Nothing major, just the usual “oh my God why can’t I write faster and produce more, more, more?” This is compounded by the fact I have a new publication coming out very soon. Having a new release comes with a heady rush of excitement, but there’s always anxiety attached, as well. It’s a small hit of joy that you want to go on and on, but you know the only way to achieve that is to have more things published. In other words, the elation of your publication is bogged down by the fact you’re sweating because you have no idea when this will happen again–when you can make it happen again.
Gee, writers are super neurotic creatures, aren’t they? Of course I’m thrilled, I just want to be thrilled every day. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. And really, would the thrill be all that poignant if it happened all the time?
On to this month’s question:
What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?
Gosh, it’s hard to pick just one.
On the technical side, I’ve learned so much about the structural aspects of writing it’s mind-boggling. You always think you’re a good writer until a good editor shows you otherwise. I take these lessons with a sense of awe and gratitude, because once you know the things you didn’t know before–well, you know them forever. It’s important in determining how your writing grows and unfolds, and how much you’re going to make the next editor want to pull their hair out. I love learning about writing. I love learning how it’s done. And with each new thing I learn I’m more and more excited about the fact that I’m honing and perfecting my craft in ways I couldn’t have dreamed of when I was young and green and first starting out.
On the substance side, I think I’ve learned how to tell a story. My early works were rambling and often horribly self-indulgent, and while there’s a place for a tiny dash of self-indulgence, it can’t be the meat of the story. One must learn to tell a tale in a coherent and satisfying manner if they want to attract readers and keep them. That doesn’t mean things have to be realistic or rote, it just means you have to be able to tell a story in a pleasing framework. I’ve gotten a lot better at that. I know what to chop, what to leave out to begin with, and how to steer things in the direction I want them to go. Storytelling is an art but also a craft.
I’ve learned about the promotional and business aspects of writing too, which is a far bigger part than people care to admit. It’s art, but it’s also a business, and you have to learn to sell yourself as a product. This is important if you ever want to make money off writing. I think the funniest thing I’ve learned is that it’s not nearly as difficult as one might think. It’s a lot of networking, taking chances, learning a few new skills, and a whole lot of luck. Once you’re in the thick of it you start to recognize opportunities as they arise and it’s not as intimidating.
All the lessons I’ve learned have come from so many places: editors, publishers, other authors. It’s impossible to pick just one that I’d call THE most valuable lesson. I will say probably the best piece of advice you can cling to, among all the other adages and words of wisdom meant to comfort you, is that you should never give up. There’s going to be a million times when you feel like giving up, and you may even do it for a while, but you have to come back and try again. It’s a long, hard, strenuous climb up a mountain, but if you don’t keep plodding forward, you’ll never find the summit. It doesn’t help that your map is often incoherent and leads you into dark and spooky caves, or right off the sides of cliffs.
Don’t give up! You have a 100% chance of failure if you do, but if you stay in the game, you never know how much chance you have at success–you just have to find out!