5 More Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride       ~MercyMe

Two weeks ago, I wrote the post 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started. I felt it was only appropriate to include the second verse of the song Dear Younger Me (which, by the way, is such a great song. Plus, since this is my blog, I get to make cool choices like that). Anyway, this post is a continuation, a second round of things I’d tell my younger self if I could.

*Don’t isolate because it’s hard to create in a vacuum. Many writers are introverts, spending lots of time in their head creating characters, settings, and plots. Get out and live a little. (Yes, it’s hard. As an introvert, I want to stay in my creative cocoon. But I see my writing improve when I expand my boundaries.)

*Writing is as much about platform and marketing as it is about actually writing. This is the one transition that happened when I wasn’t looking. I started writing in the 90’s, and then I took a break to have children. When I started writing again, suddenly there was plenty of buzz about platform and social media and marketing. But this is the new normal. I can’t tuck myself away at a country cottage, like Salinger or Dickinson. That doesn’t work anymore.

* Be content with where you are. It took many frustrating years before I became happy with where I was. It was during a Bible study where someone said, “You’re where God wants you to be. Don’t envy someone else’s life. They’ve got something that you can’t handle. Just like you have things in your life they can’t handle.” Knowing that piece of advice and knowing I’d always write, regardless of the outcome, helped me cope.

* Suck it up and pay your dues. There are very few people whose first manuscript is a best seller. I’ve written plenty of stories, poems, and three books in the in the past (the first book will never, ever, see the light of day). And that’s okay. I made lots of mistakes in those early books and learned a lot.

*Contests are excellent measuring sticks. Always choose the ones that give feedback, especially if you’re shelling out $20 or $25 dollars for an entry fee. I should’ve entered many more of those than I did.

Plus 1: Take care of yourself. This is something I’m still working on because balance is difficult, at least for me. Every job requires it, as well as sleep, healthy eating, and time to just unwind. The writing profession is no different.

What about you? Is there any piece of advice you’d give your younger self? Please leave it in the comments!