Hey Newbie Writer,
So you want to write a book.
That’s awesome. That’s great. Writing is rewarding and inspiring and one of the most accomplishing things you can do for yourself. You can share your ideas with the world through writing. You can dream up another world to escape to. You can pretty much go anywhere and do anything and be anyone with writing. So congratulations on wanting to write a book. This is going to be great.
Except there are some things I should warn you about. Writing isn’t all fun. Some people don’t understand it. It doesn’t seem like something that’s hard to wrap your head around, but you’d be surprised. You have ideas and hopes and dreams and ambitions and other people might understand that. But some people won’t.
I’ll go ahead give you the first warning. The first warning is to not listen to anything anyone says about your writing if they haven’t even read it. And even then, sometimes you just have to ignore them. I’m a teenager and I’ve written two novels and published a novella. I get criticism from people who don’t even know me. But I’m not going to let that get me down.
I’ve had people smile down their nose at me and say, “Oh honey, you’re too young to write a book.” I’ve had agents shake their head and try to let me down easy by saying that I’m at that age where I try to copy all of the popular authors out there and get away with it. I’ve had people make sideways comments about how I’m probably just in it for the money. Thank you for that.
Some people hear what your story is about and just pass it off as some kind of pipe dream. Some people will shoot down your ideas and say they’re not original. You know the little details that are in pretty much every book out there? Someone might say, “Oh, your characters have a goal to work towards? Like that hasn’t been done before.”
But there are those other kinds of people, who do everything in their power to encourage and support you. Other writers. Good friends. Family. They’ll be the ones who can’t wait to read what you write and follow your writing blog, even if they aren’t writers. The ones who give you feedback and help you get to the places you need to go.
Some of those people will start as strangers. One of my favorite readers actually knitted me a beautiful afghan blanket and told me to keep writing because she loved Looking For Lily and wanted me to keep following my dreams. Seriously. She is the nicest person I have ever met in my life. And I keep it as a reminder when I’m writing. I’ve even got it on me right now.
There are also the people in between, who are more surprised than anything else. I was at a writing workshop and met an agent who was baffled at the amount of writing I had done at my age. He asked me how old I was and I told him I was a teenager and he just started laughing. He didn’t expect it. And then he actually asked to meet my mother to see if I was lying about the book I wrote.
The rule is to not listen to anything any of them say, even if they might be right. Take criticism. Take tips. But don’t let their words get to your head because what you are writing isn’t their business. Don’t let them discourage you because what you are doing matters. Don’t doubt your abilities.
Now for the second warning. There are a lot of people who don’t understand the whole writing thing, so as a result they come up with a lot of stupid questions. The questions aren’t really stupid, but they are to you because you’re a writer and you hear them every day. They are common sense to you, but not to them. So be patient.
“How many pages is your book?” This one is one of my favorites. I never know how to answer it. The only answer I have is 118,000 words, but that’s just going to confuse them more. It’s like when you ask someone how old their baby is and they say 32 weeks. And then your head spins in circles while you try to calculate what that means in English.
“What’s your book about?” This one is kind of tiring. My book is complicated. The best that I can come up with to tolerate this question is to just create with a two sentence summary of the story and just keep it on the tip of your tongue.
“How much money do you make?” Really? Are you serious? That’s what they choose to ask you when you aren’t even done writing the book yet.
“Can I read it?” No. My answer is always no. Because it isn’t done. If it were done, then they could go buy it on Amazon. Then they could read it. But it’s really hard to explain that.
Actually, I change my mind. My favorite is actually when someone tells you that they’ve got a great story idea. You get excited for them and start going into writer-talk and encouraging them to write it.
And then they ask you if you can write the book for them. Because they think that it’s easy and you can just write a book for someone and it won’t take you months or years to do it. And by the way you just met this person ten minutes ago.
That’s my third warning. You might think that you can write a book in a month or two, because that’s a long time, right? I mean, we’re talking months here. But the thing is, writing isn’t all that you have to do. You might be able to write a novel in a month. Good for you. But almost nobody can write a good novel in a month. So for that one month of writing a novel that you put yourself through, set aside six more months or rewriting and editing.
Let’s see… what else should I warn you about?
Oh, yeah. Failure. You’re going to fail. A lot. Don’t take it personally, really. Writing is hard and like anything else, you have to suck at it before you can get good at it. So you’re going to put yourself out there and write and let people read it and you’re going to fail. But you’ve just got to learn from it. Learn from it and move on and keep going because it’s not going to get any better until you fix what you are doing wrong.
Have I scared you enough yet? Feel like backing out and looking for something easier to do? Don’t. The fact that you have an idea and you want to write it is amazing. The fact that you are even reading this means that you are brave enough to face the hardships that come with writing. Honestly, the criticism and doubt and amount of time it takes to get anything done isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Want to know why? Because through all of that, you are writing. And when you are writing, then you can push all of that out of the way. Because it is more important than all of that stuff.
Writing is worth the bad things that can come along with it. It is amazing to be able to say that you wrote a book. To be able to say that you are an author. To have your idea turn into a story that lives inside the brains of more people than you could have imagined at the beginning. It’s so great to hear from the people who’ve read it and thought highly of it. It’s great to hold a copy of it in your hands. And to get interviews about your writing. To get to keep writing because you can do it again. And again.
It’s rewarding. It’s inspiring. It’s fun. It’s something that might be that missing piece to your puzzle if you give it a chance. Seriously, don’t give up because of the downsides. Compared to the actual writing, those are just a little detail. That’s the whole point of this blog post. It’s a challenge for you. Write a book. That’s it. That’s enough. My challenge for you is to go write a book even though there are those little details that might try and get in your way.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!