Five Lessons Learned While Writing My Debut Novel - Blog Take Over!
Hello my lovely and wonderful followers! This month, I've handed over the keys! I've sent my child away for sleep-away camp! I've ... well I've let fellow writer Jade Young full access to my blog, and given her full approval to post here for all of you. Join me in welcoming Jade to my page, and let's dive in!
Ah! I’ve been at this writing game for a year now, and I still find myself making mistakes and learning lessons every single time I sit down to write. Every single time, I overcome a writing hurdle, and feel like I’ve finally made it and I’m a successful writer, there’s always another obstacle to push me back on my butt and keep me humble. The truth is, as writers there will always be something new to learn or some obstacle to overcome. However, we don’t all have to make the same mistakes or overcome the same struggles. It is my hope that by sharing my writing struggles and lessons learned with you, that you can avoid some of the many pitfalls I’ve struggled with in the past.
Lesson One - Don’t Lose Your Joy:
Don’t be afraid to experiment, try new things, and make mistakes. Writing is extremely hard, but it can also be fun. If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up, be kind to yourself. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Also, don’t put unnecessary deadlines on yourself, or feel that you have to put out a bestseller or you’ll be the joke of the writing community. The truth is, whether one person, one hundred people, or thousands of people read your book, nothing can compare to the real reason you write. It’s not for the money, for the reviews, or for the success – it’s because writing brings your joy. It’s your passion. And I promise you, if you write because it lights you up and makes you happy, then you can overcome every single struggle and hurdle your author journey throws at you. (If you’ve fallen out of love with writing ,check out this amazing article by Kristen Kieffer to help you rediscover that love.)
Lesson Two - Second Drafts Exist for a Reason:
Writers! You will never write a perfect first draft. I’m sorry, but it just isn’t going to happen. All that stress and anxiety we bring upon ourselves struggling to make our first draft perfect is for nothing. There will be constant rewrites. Characters will need to be developed further. Plot holes will pop up in places you least expect. You can go back three, four, or five times and still find something to improve or change. There is no reason to stress. There is no reason to cry. There is no reason to feel overwhelmed. As you’ve no doubt heard many times before, the first draft is simply you telling yourself the story. Get it out. Throw caution to the wind, turn off your inner critique and editor, and focus on simply getting the story out of your head and onto the paper.
Lesson Three - Consistency is Key:
It is so easy to get distracted by shiny new ideas while working on another writing project. Some people can balance multiple writing projects and that’s great! (Check out this blog post for four tips to help you balance multiple writing projects.) However, I could build a graveyard to house all of the writing projects I’ve abandoned and that’s not okay. You can have multiple ideas, but the goal is to finish a writing project. Complete a first draft. Publish a novel. Once you’ve successfully published a novel, then you can decide which writing project you want to devote your time to next.
Lesson Four - The Writing Community is Your Best Friend:
I don’t like putting myself out there on the Internet. That’s why I write under the pen name Jade Young. However, when I put myself out there, and started to interact and connect with other writers a whole new world opened up. I had writing buddies to do group writing sprints with! I had editing friends to critique my novels! I had access to amazing cover designers and book formatters! I had people who were going through the same struggles and hurdles that I was and who knew just what to say to help me get back on my feet! There were writing chats on Twitter! (You can find a list of daily Twitter writing events here.) Group hashtag games on Twitter and Instagram! Writing advice YouTube videos and podcasts! Writing tags! And when I opened myself and my heart to the newfound friends I made on the Internet, I realized that yes, writing is oftentimes solitary, but with such a strong, helpful, and welcoming community, I no longer had to struggle, or celebrate, alone.
Lesson Five - Go at Your Own Pace:
The comparison game is a trap! Don’t fall into it! I know this is easier said than done, but every writer is different. Some will pop out two or more novels a year while others might pop out one every three years. Some excel in character development while others excel in knowing how and when to set up the perfect plot twist. And that's okay! No two writing journeys are the same and comparing yourself to someone isn't going to make you feel better. To stop myself from falling into this trap, I started posting positive affirmations around my writing space to remind myself of my strengths. I’ve also started saving positive feedback in a file on my computer This way, when I feel like I’m moving too slow in my journey, I can read these comments and affirmations and chase away the self-doubt or feelings of comparison. After all, the only person I should be comparing myself to is the writer I was yesterday.
I hope my shortcomings and the lessons I’ve learned can be helpful to you on your writing journey. If you don’t remember anything else, remember to believe in yourself and above all continue to write! Have you learned any lessons on your writing journey? Leave them in the comments down below so we can all learn from each other!
Jade Young is a blogger, and writing coach, currently working on her debut novel. You can find helpful tips, writing advice, and more information about her services on her website at www.theeducatedwriter.com.