If you’ve read the other posts this month, you’ve already received lots of great advice for your writing journey. I can’t disagree with anything anyone has said so far. Of course, it’s not possible to implement everything at once, so I’ll just share what I, personally, have found most important over the course of my own career as a writer.
For those just starting out, I can’t over-stress the importance of making and maintaining contacts and friendships with other writers. Back in the olden days before publishing my first book, I didn’t know ANY other local writers. I had to depend on books for advice, but those could only take me so far. It was a wonderful, wonderful day when I first discovered an online community of writers. There’s just no substitute for getting firsthand advice from writers who’ve been there, done that.
Which leads to my second point: pay it forward. As you travel farther along your own writing path, remember all those who helped along the way and reach a hand back to those still starting out. More than ever right now, it’s important to be kind to each other, and to remember that a rising tide lifts all boats. I particularly love this quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca:
Someone else’s successes in no way diminish yours. Publishing isn’t a zero-sum game and readers can read books WAY faster than you (or I) can write them. Take time to celebrate your colleagues’ successes rather than regarding them as competitors.
When it comes to improving craft, my best advice is to read, read, read…analytically. Read lots of books in your chosen genre as well as books outside of your genre. See what other authors have done that works and try to figure out how they did it.
Of course, there are tons of books, blogs and classes that purport to improve your writing, your productivity, smooth your path to publication, and ramp up your marketing efforts. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” out there. But as I said at the start, it’s never going to be possible to do All The Things. The BEST pieces of advice, from all sources, are the ones you actually apply. Simply hoarding information and advice while you seek more, more, more will lead to paralysis and doing nothing at all. Find a few bits that resonate with YOU, wherever you are on your path, and try those. Test them. If they work, keep using them. If not, jettison and move on to something else.
Most importantly, just keep writing! Nothing will move you forward better than producing words. The more you write, the more you’ll improve. And the more you’ll have to polish into something worth selling.