‘Sup? It’s Jackson here, I thought I’d just add a tidbit before the guest post. The man who is guest posting is actually the man who inspired this entire blog. And he’s a rather famous one in the blogosphere, growing highly popular within the last year or so. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…
First off, I’d like to thank the Teenalicious Team for setting up this blog and for inviting me
over. There can never be enough resources available for new/aspiring writers to learn from.
Let’s see if I can contribute something learn-worthy here …
When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I never thought Writer was an option. Being a fireman or an accountant seemed logical. Given certain physical issues and my horrible luck with math, those options didn’t work for me. My love for stories, however, I never questioned. I spent many childhood days in the backyard pretending to be Indy Jones or some other Harrison Ford incarnation. Through the 90’s, I became disappointed with the recent string of films and the less-than awesome sci-fi flicks that came out at that time (Battlefield Earth, Sphere, among others).
So I thought, geez … I could do that – maybe something better!
And so began my first stab at writing a novel. I even read a whole dictionary to boost my vocab. By the time I finished my first novel (18 months later), results showed for themselves – I aced every English paper from then on. Either the teachers were really easy on me or I had learned to write well on my own. I kept going and completed a trilogy before earning an Associate degree.
I was on a role, but there was one problem I hadn’t taken into consideration that my presentation sucked. Yeah. Sucked, like a bad banana on a left-out-in-the-sun sundae. As I finished college, I attended my first ever writer’s conference and thought for-sure I would wow the panelist and all the peeps of a critique group session, the first time I ever participated in one. I read my first five pages, knowing, for sure, they’d be impressed with what would surely be the next Star Wars.
What was their response?
“That was a complete waste of five pages.”
I think a knife to the heart would’ve been less painful.
(On a side note, crushed egos are to your benefit – trust me.)
I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? I had learned to write – my sentences and grammar were all used properly. What’s the beef? The problem was I didn’t tell the story right. I’d begun in the wrong place and used every newbie writer trick in the textbook. I almost quit right there, thinking I wasn’t cut out for this. If it wasn’t for an invite to hang out with, who would soon be huge writing celebrities, for lunch, I would have driven home with a shredded manuscript.
I’m not the quickest learner, so I kept at it. I still learn new writing tricks every day, and I’m still actively shopping some manuscripts. Now that I’m 30, hindsight has become an amazing ally.
So what could I have done to avoid this hang up and be a better writer sooner? If you’re new at this, be it 8 or 88, here’s a few tips that can help you get on the right track, sooner than later:
Writing Conferences – The fact that you go to them tells the writing community that you are
serious about this business, and you can attend classes, panels, and workshops taught by authors who know tons more about the industry than you may know for now. They can be pricey, but it’s an investment for your own benefit. Find a way and go to them. Soak them up like a sponge.
Critique Groups – The best way to know if your story is working is to share it with other writers and obtain their feedback, chapter by chapter on a weekly basis – not all at once. This helps spot problems early on so massive rewrites can be avoided. Be sure your group respects each other’s material and won’t share it with others. Writers tend to be too focused on their own ideas, so no worries about having others swipe yours. Ideas are cheap, anyway. How you use them matters.
Know Your Market – Know who you are writing for. Yes, you should always write for yourself first, but keep in mind what age range would be interested in your story, too. The age of hermit writers is over. Publishers expect authors to do the bulk of their marketing, especially if they’re new. Be a people person, a salesperson, and let your shyness and inhibitions go by the wayside. Know your market and read everything you can find from that market. Become a specialist!
Limit Distractions – Now more than ever, there are so many things out there that will divide your time from writing, and it’s only going to get worse. Now’s the time for discipline. Take note on things you like to do and give yourself limits, so you won’t overindulge on activities that will get you from finishing that chapter. Games, movies, books, etc, make for a great reward system.
Build An Online Presence – Through whatever social media you have at your disposal, consider starting now, and be mindful of what you post. Blogging is a great way to start. Every word you write makes you a better writer, making regular posts a most excellent writing warm up! If you send out a query to agents and publishers, they will Google you – some have gone on record by saying if they can’t find you online, they won’t ask for material, even if they like your query.
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. This writing business is a hard one. There is no guarantee that if I had done all these things when I was 15, I would be published by now, but I will testify that as soon as I started all this five years ago, my career as a writer is better for it.
Dream large, stand tall, and open your mind, for you are the conduit for a story that is yet to be told.
I’m David, and I wish you the best of luck on your writing journey!