5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be         ~MercyMe

I’ve been writing for a long time, about fifteen years. And like the song Dear Younger Me, there are some things I wish I could tell my younger self, so I’d be better prepared.

  1. Don’t stop writing—ever. That condescending editor? I should’ve brushed off the criticism. The days when I didn’t have to write? I should’ve put my butt in the chair and written anyway. When things got hard and the criticism stung, I shouldn’t have slowed down, but instead pushed harder.
  2. Develop a thick skin. This one I’m still working on. I know words are only words. But whether it’s a bit of untrue gossip or a scathing review, these are the things downloaded unto the hard drive of my memory.
  3. It’s a hard industry to break into. Much, much harder than I thought. In fact, I’ve heard the professional advice: if you can do anything else, do it. And I would… except the characters and plots keep coming. I don’t only write because I like to, but because I can’t not write.
  4. Feedback is essential… Whether it’s beta readers or a critique group, listen to the advice. (If they’re all saying the same thing, it’d be wise to take notes and then edit.)
  5. …But it’s also just someone else’ opinion. These opinions are not commandments from God. They’re just someone else’s viewpoint. You’re the one who gets to decide how the story unfolds.

I’ve got five more tips that I wished I knew when I started. I’ll share those in my next personal post. Next week, Sarah Addison-Fox will be stopping by to share more about her new book Disowned! See you then!


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