Christian author, Randy Ingermanson likens fiction writing to high school. He talks about freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior writers and then there’s graduation day–becoming a published author!
How does a writer reach that elusive graduation day? It takes time and hard work whether we’re talking about high school or publishing! But it’s a journey to be enjoyed. For many people high school memories are some of their best memories. (That may not be true for some of us bookworms!)
Just as writing a story is a process, becoming a writer is a process. A process that CAN be rushed, but shouldn’t be. If you rush the process, you’re going to miss out on some of the journey. And the journey is as important as graduation day.
There are things to be learned during the journey. Don’t want to deal with rejections? But they make you stronger when you get those bad reviews. Got writer’s block? That’s OK, because you’ve learned to trust the process. The journey will make you a stronger, better writer.
For me, it was a long journey to graduation day—too long. I admit I made the journey longer than it had to be, but I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few things I’ve learned that may make your journey shorter.
- Learn the craft. I present a workshop where I talk about the ABCs of Being a Writer. A is for Art. B is for Business. C is for Craft. All three are important ingredients for a successful career as a writer.
- Be teachable. For me, I think this is the number one rule of being a writer. If you aren’t willing to learn from others, it’s going to take a long time to graduate.
- Be a part of a critique group. As you learn to recognize weak writing in others, it will strengthen your own writing.
- Don’t get stuck on a manuscript. Many unpublished writers write their first story and refuse to move on to the next story. Instead they write and rewrite and rewrite the same story. But one book does not a career make. Your writing will get better with each finished manuscript.
My first story had so many No-Nos that made it (almost) unredeemable—started with a dream—lots of back story—lots of flashbacks—head hopping—not to mention the always popular amnesia!
As with all things, quality takes time.
In this new electronic age, it’s very easy to publish a book, but I would caution you to reflect on your writing skills. Be honest about what grade you’re in and make a commitment to finish the journey. So that when graduation day comes, no matter what route you take, you can hold your head up and know you earned that diploma…I mean book with your name on it!
Your turn–what’s the best advice you have for a prepublished writer?