13 Lessons I Learned on My Writing Journey
1. It's never too late. My debut novel, Getting It Right, was released when I was 69 years old.
2. Writers read. They read the genre they are most interested in as a writer but also other types of writing. Every piece or book holds lessons, insights, and often writing inspiration.
3. Movies are also a wonderful source. They "show" rather than "tell" which is a writing axiom. You can learn a lot about making your writing visual from good movies.
4. Study your craft. I read books on every aspect of writing. Poets & Writers and Writer's Digest magazines provide inside tips and ideas as well as a great database of agents, contests, and writer retreats. Literary magazines are filled with stories to read and learn from. There are also lots of terrific workshops at various price points. Gotham has some of the best and most affordable classes from my perspective. There are excellent, pricier options as well. Do a Google search.
5. Join a writing group, be part of a writing community. Start with your public library and inquire. Google and find groups in your area. Start your own. These groups not only encourage writing and provide needed feedback but they also support you.
6. Writers write! Find a way to write as often as possible. Some write for 15 minutes a day. Others set goals for the week - either time or word counts. You can't call yourself a writer if you're not writing.
7. Finish something. A short story, poem, essay, novel. Finish. Don't let your work languish.
8. Understand industry norms and trends. Word counts for short stories, novels, nonfiction essays, and so forth. Know what types of books, stories, poems, and essays are popular. But don't let that dictate what you do. Be aware, write what and how you want.
9. Editing and re-writing are essential to the process. Embrace them. There are books and articles on both. Writer's Digest offers an excellent service - Second Draft. I use editing software as well. Pro Writing Aid is quite effective. There are lots of other options. The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel by Robert Ray was super helpful.
10. Be brave. Send your finished works to trusted beta readers - friends who love to read and who will be honest. Fellow writers. Be open. Listen. Ask questions. Decide what you agree with and make changes.
11. Proof. Proof. Proof. Polish. Polish. Polish.
12. Get your package together. Log line (one sentence that captures the essence of the book), query letter, synopsis, proposal for nonfiction books, and author bio (there are guidelines for these). And get your online presence in shape - set up a website and author Facebook page. Visit your favorite authors' sites for ideas. Review your posts on all platforms as if you are an agent or acquisition manager. What will they find?
13. Be braver and don't give up. Query magazines, agents, small presses. Rejections are part of the journey. Don't get discouraged. Keep going. My second novel, Tangled Lies, was rejected (often kindly with encouraging words but still rejected) 78 times before I received an enthusiastic yes. My third novel I never had to send out. My publisher called and asked if I had another book. "Yes, I do," I said, doing my happy dance. Reckonings' release date is June 16, 2022.