Saturday, March 27, 2010

10 Things I’ve Learned About Writing So Far

"Easy reading is damn hard writing." Nathaniel Hawthorne

1. There are no secrets to getting published.

The key is to always keep learning. Read. Read. Read to see how the greats do it. Go to writing conferences. Take online classes. Obtain a degree in journalism, English or creative writing if feasible. Get an MFA. Whatever you decide, take that knowledge, work hard, and practice the butt in chair (bic) principle, and write. It’s as simple as that. No secret formulas or hocus pocus required.

2. Rejections get less painful.

I remember when I sent out my first query. I was devastated when I received my first form rejection. Over time, I’ve become more thick-skinned. Each rejection made me try even harder. Then I started receiving personal rejections. Eventually, I was able to sell my first story! Although each rejection is never fun, it no longer brings me to my knees in a depressed heap. Life does go on!

3. Not to take critiques personally.

Getting a critique can hurt. You put your soul into your writing. To have someone not like what you’ve written can be tough. I’ve learned not to take it personally, though. It’s not me being scrutinized. It’s my manuscript. Also, I’d rather hear what I need to work on instead of how great my manuscript is when it isn't. I don’t want to send it to a publisher prematurely who in turn rejects it.

4. Good critiques are like gold.

I’ve been a member of critique groups, have critique partners, and have received professional critiques here and there. Some advice I’ve written off literally. I just wasn’t feelin’ it.

I do know a good critique when I hear one. Sometimes it’s a confirmation of what I’ve been worrying about in my manuscript. Do I need to make a smoother transition? Or did they point out something I missed logistically? What about big picture issues? Those are the critiques like gold. I am truly grateful for each and every one. They improve my writing.

5. Revise, revise, and revise.

No writer I know of can pull off a great manuscript the first time they write it. That’s why writing is so stinkin' hard. To write something that looks so simple takes draft after draft after draft after draft. Did I mention revising?

6. Accept writing advice.

Experienced writers know a lot more about the biz. Read their blogs. Read their books. Go to conferences and hear them speak. I’ve learned some great things from established writers and still hope to learn more!

7. Try new genres.

Most of my writing background in is nonfiction writing. I have a degree in journalism and have worked as a freelancer, a contract writer for a university, and in public relations where I’ve written copy, articles, and press releases.

Attending multigenre conferences allowed me the opportunity to think about writing for a new genre. I never thought I’d want to write for children. Now, I’ve sold a few nonfiction articles to children’s publications, and I'm writing a few children's books. So glad I tried another genre!

8. Make friends with other writers.

Over the years, I’ve attended lots of writing conferences and met many writers. I can honestly say these are some of my most favorite people ever. I’ve made great writing buddies who offer the best support and advice. I learn from them and we lean on each other and share in the joys and heartaches of writing. Don’t know what I’d do without them.

9. Writers can take breaks from writing.

Unless you are a contracted writer, it's okay to step away from writing. Life happens. People you love get sick. Your hubby goes out of town, and you have to hold down the fort and take care of the kids. Whatever the reason, you can stop writing for a while. That doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. It means you are a person who is overwhelmed and needs some time away. I’ve recently taken my own writing hiatus due to a number of overwhelming reasons. And now I’m jumping back in.

10. Never give up.

I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to those negative voices swirling inside my head telling me that I’m not good enough. Several times, I’ve almost given up. Writing isn't easy. But, if I would have given up the first time I beat myself up and actually called it quits, then I would never have sold that first story. How sad that would have been if I would have given up on my dreams.


  1. Excellent post, Kim. Your words are right on. And I'm so happy to count as one of my treasured writer friends.

  2. Thanks, Jeannie. And I feel the same about you!