As I’ve undergone this journey I’ve started to realize that sometimes the advice people give me is actually useful. Shock and amazement! I tend to be a pretty stubborn person. I’m self taught in almost everything so when people try to help me, or give me advice, my knee jerk reaction is to tell them to BACK OFF. Let me figure it out on my own!
Unfortunately my way is often the hard way.
But that’s okay too, it works for me.
Over the past two years people have given me a mountain of advice, most of which I completely dismissed.
1. You’re writing the wrong story. Put it aside and work on something else.
This was the most common piece of advice I was given. I rejected the concept and kept struggling away. Two years later I finally finished a draft I felt was ‘acceptable’, but by the end I wasn’t enjoying the story as much anymore. And because I wasn’t enjoying it as much writing really started to feel like a chore at the end there.
I still secretly think that draft isn’t everything it could or should be but I have no idea how to fix it.
But I’m finally at a point where I feel comfortable putting it aside. It’s close enough to finished that I can let it go.
And letting it go was the single best thing I’ve done in two years. I wrote my second novel in just a couple of months and I enjoyed every single moment. I didn’t once stop in frustration, now that it’s done I don’t feel like throwing it out. I actually feel really confident in it, even though I KNOW it has some pretty glaring errors.
So, sometimes it is just time to let a project go and move on to the next thing.
Sometimes you’re just trying to force out the wrong story.
Part of growing is learning to recognize what stories need to be told and when.
2. Writing Groups are a distraction
Words can’t express how true this is. They’re fun! But they’re really just a gigantic time sucker. If you have the self control to step away, good for you! But I didn’t. Shutting them all down was the single best thing I did for my writing. The week I stopped visiting writing groups is the week I wrote 20K.
You don’t have to leave forever! But maybe you should leave long enough to finish your manuscript, at the very least.
3. Social media is powerful
Don’t ruin your reputation. Stop. Before speaking in anger, before flipping out on bad reviewers, before plastering your poorly written advert all over the internet, stop.
People online never forget, and once it’s out there, it’s out there. No take backsies.
As a writer your reputation is everything so use social media wisely.
This from the girl who has the worst temper in the world and who has probably made her fair share of enemies online. >.< Whoops.
4. Get an editor
I am must protect her!
Okay, never mind that. But seriously. No matter how good you think your English is, you are TOO close to your story to edit it properly. You absolutely NEED an outside set of eyes to go over it. Not only that, but you should probably get a beta too. A beta will help identify story logic errors that you can’t see because you have all the back story in your head.
Go get an editor.
Some of them will even be affordable.
5. This hobby should be fun
I used to get really upset with people who would chastise me because I didn’t seem to be having much fun. Fun! Whatever! This is SERIOUS BUSINESS. And to an extent I was right, not everything in life is fun. Was learning how to knit a sweater fun? Sometimes not so much, but sometimes very much so. Was learning how to ride a bike run? Nope. Not until I stopped falling…
but if you have completely lost sight of the joy of writing, you might need to take a break.
Taking a break isn’t bad! And besides, taking a break might help you to identify the problem I mentioned in 1. . Maybe you’re just trying to force the wrong story!
So take a deep breath, work on something else, and refind your joy.
Writing can be just a thing you do for fun and never give much thought to. Writing can be a serious business. Or, if you’re like me, writing can be something in between.
The trick is figuring out what makes you happy.
The trick is not being afraid to know when to call it quits on a project that’s not working.
Goodbye Prelude. I’m so glad to be rid of you because now I’ve refound my joy and I’m back to loving every moment of writing!