If you could tell your younger writer self something what would it be? What advice would you give someone who is just starting their writing journey?
Jessie: I would tell myself to trust my process and my own voice. I would tell myself it is my way of being in the world and thus is mine to experience in my own way along any road that suits me. My timeline, passions and experiences are all fine just as they are.
Julie: I would tell myself that there aren’t any rules for how to write. That writing is a craft that you get better at over time, with lots of practice. That writing will bring you unimaginable joy, so don’t listen to the folks who poo-poo your efforts.
Sherry: Don’t give up! Rejection is part of the process and you have to have a thick skin. That pretty much applies to everything in life, right? Listen to your gut, but if everyone is saying the same thing about your work take that into consideration. It took me a long time to get published and I have two and a half books in the proverbial drawer. But I learned a lot through writing them.
Barb: A few years ago, after the first couple of Maine Clambake Mysteries were published, I participated in a really fun panel, organized by Julie, at the Boston Book Festival. It was one of those absolutely beautiful fall days we get in Boston, and after my stint in the Sisters in Crime New England booth, I sat out in the sun on a bench in Copley Square, listening to the music and taking in the beauty of Trinity Church. In that moment, I thought to myself, “If your twenty-year-old self could see you now, she would feel pretty good.” So I guess my older self would tell my younger self, “Relax. It will happen for you. And don’t forget to enjoy the ride.”
Edith: I would tell myself, “Don’t listen to those who scold you about the terrible odds of getting a publication contract or the naysayers warning you how hard it is to land an agent. Somebody’s going get published, and it might as well be you.” Actually, I did tell my slightly younger self that ten years ago – and now look where I am.
Readers: What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self not to think I know it all because the older I get the more I realize how little I truly know. Especially when it comes to understanding why people do certain things or react in certain ways. Everyone has a story, and our experiences have shaped who we are—good or bad. The important thing is to love and not judge because many times we don’t know all the details about someone’s life.
And be humble!! No matter how much I think I know it’s nothing compared to what God knows. ( :
Wise words. Tolerance is freeing.
Thank you, all of you, for these words. I love writing and have so many stories, on paper and in my head! I just always feel they aren’t good enough for anyone but me!
Hey, try us, Deb!
Don’t think it has to be perfect the first time you write it! See Sheila’s comment below!
Take a deep breath and stop worrying so much. Easy to say – hard to do!
That is so true, Gram!
Just do it! Don’t feel you have to research everything from “How to Write a Book” to “How to Find an Agent” to “How to Promote Yourself” before you even start a book. And put a muzzle on your Inner Editor–as I once heard Nora Roberts say, you can’t edit what isn’t on the page. Write your Vomit Draft and fix it later.
Great question and interesting answers. I would tell myself, “Practice, practice, practice. Hands on the keyboard is the only way to get it done, and to get better at it.” And I would add, “Think through what really matters to you, and make that part of your storytelling.” (Truth is that I started with notebooks and pencils, not keyboard, but the idea holds)
Yes, Sheila, “just do it” is as good advice as it gets. Learn to tolerate bad writing, cause it gets better as you work on it.
Yes! I’ve told so many people that! Last week I told my Uber driver just that!
Like Sherry, don’t give up. Except not in the sense of rejection, but in the “the rest of your life is not as important as you think so don’t quit writing.” All those years of wasted learning opportunity.
Excellent point, Liz!
I would tell myself to start saving money for marketing and conferences. Prepare for making the most of publication!
That is interesting, Susan! There is so much that goes on after the book is written.
Enjoy the ride. Even if you dream of writing and are doing a million other things every life experience along the road is meant to be.
Great point, Debra! That must be why you always have a smile on your face!
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff. No, everyone is not looking at you so quit wasting time worrying if every hair on your head (or whatever) is perfect. Nobody worth knowing, cares. Thoroughly enjoy every tiny pleasure to be happy. If you only wait for the big pleasures, you won’t spend much time being happy.
So true, Ginny. Sometimes when I’m getting ready for an author gig, I worry about my outfit or my shoes or my hair. Then I scold myself, “Nobody is NOT going to buy your book because you wear dorky shoes or are having a bad hair day!”
I would tell myself not to rush rush rush and that if something doesn’t work out immediately you don’t have to go right on to the next thing. Patience. And most definitely to ignore those naysayers. Sometimes even those who mean well and love us, like my mother always wanted the best but thought reality meant we should settle, put ceilings on what they think we can achieve or should try to do.
Great points, Sally.
It’s been said in a few different ways already, but I believe in persistence.
You will survive having roommates. You will get the ones you need when you need them. And you will get to a place where you don’t need roommates any more.
Oh, I love that. Sooooooo true!
As others have said: Just do it! You’ll never, ever get any younger. Time is precious, and it slips past you faster than you can ever imagine.
That dreams don’t have an expiration date! And maybe add that 50 is the new 40!
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