By TWC Alumna Rachel Bird
Writing is hard.
You might be asking yourselves: Why would I tell you this? Because I think it’s important for every young writer to learn. It pays to be prepared.
It might seem like writing is easy, but it really isn’t. It takes a lot of hard work, and there are many steps involved. But don’t worry. Just breathe and follow these easy steps, and you’ll be just fine.
- The easiest way to get a book written is to just sit down and write it. You can’t let yourself try to make the first draft perfect. Just get it written—the editing stages will take care of imperfect writing.
- I’m sure you’ve heard people tell you to force yourself to write every day. I’m afraid I must disagree with this. Perhaps it’s good to create a habit of writing so that it comes easier to you, but at the same time, forcing yourself to write all the time can cause you to begin to detest writing, and you’ll no longer want to do it. So allow yourself breaks from writing so that you don’t come to hate it.
- Never stop learning about writing. You’ll find that you’ll never learn everything, and while there’s always basic advice to follow, new ideas are always being introduced that can change the way you do something you’ve been doing for a long time. Among your knowledge of setting, plot, and character, make sure to spend time learning about grammar and other conventions. It might seem less important (“That’s what editors are for,” you might say to yourself), but as an editor myself, I can promise you that the cleaner your manuscript is conventionally, the more likely an editor will continue reading it.
- Attend writing conferences and seek advice from those more knowledgeable than you. They’ve all been there before and have a lot more experience in the publishing field than you do, and they can help you see things you never saw before. While you’re at these conferences, network. Make friends of editors, agents, authors, and other writers. You’d be surprised the opportunities that open up simply because you met someone at a writer’s conference.
- Make sure you share your writing with both other writers and readers as well. If you rely wholly on readers, you’ll be missing some important advice that readers aren’t used to looking for, and the same is true of writers. If you can, try to throw a freelance editor in there as well. Their attention to detail and knowledge of both writing and publishing will be immensely helpful to you.
- Editing your own writing is just as important as writing is. You might think editing is someone else’s job, but I’m here to tell you the opposite. If you can’t edit your own writing, you’ll find that you’ll never make it to publication. Publishing companies want your best work, which means at least two or three self-edits of your manuscript, not including feedback from beta readers, fellow authors, and a freelance editor if you can afford one.
My last piece of advice is this: Never give up.
It’s easy to get discouraged, to think that your writing isn’t good enough, to feel that you’ll never make it—and if you do give up, that’s the unfortunate truth. So don’t give up. Who knows? You might be the next Brandon Sanderson or J.K. Rowling! But you won’t know until you try.
So keep pushing forward, keep writing, and you’ll go far—farther than you ever thought possible.
Rachel Bird loves the English language. She graduated from BYU with a degree in English Language and a minor in editing, and she did a 2 -year internship with Jolly Fish Press. Books are her passion—reading, writing, editing, you name it. She’s a three-time alumna of The Teen Writers Conference.