You're going to be struck by an amazing idea for a story, after finishing a young adult novel. You’ll enjoy it so much that you actually read the author’s bio. She’s a working mom with two children. Um ... you have four minions and a mind dripping in creativity. Could you actually bring your story idea to life?
Doubt will instantly drape over you like a lead blanket. That is such a crazy idea. You could never do it. Talking yourself out of it is easy. At first.
Later, while you're folding laundry and jamming to music as you do, you’ll recall the bazillion movies you watched during junior high and high school, and how you broke each down, creating new scenes or alternate endings. You've surely made up plenty of off-the-cuff stories to get one of your minions calmed down. And then there are the dance routines you choreographed and the murals you painted. That creativity has to count for something, right?
You love to read, and you've always adored writing. Heck, for years whenever your closest family members and friends have needed something written they've come to you. They all say you can write.
That young adult book will be on your nightstand. You’ll pick it up and begin to dissect it. Now that you look at it again, it’s good, but maybe not as good as you thought. Your original story idea is as good, and with a little work, it could be even better.
Let me stop you here.
It won’t simple take a little work. Think of dragging your original story idea along a city street after a bomb has exploded. Your story gets snagged on shrapnel and stumbles over debris. Falls into a crater and endures numerous lacerations while crawling to the surface. It will attempt to hide and fail then dodge punches from the enemy (which is you, by the way). Fighting back will leave your story battered, bruised, exhausted, and hopeless.
Your original story will gaze up at you through bloodshot, exhausted eyes. It will plead with you to clothe it as it should be, give it the scenes and words and emotions it needs. It will beg you for bold characters and striking scenes to captive a future reader. Your story wants to be told.
Now stop. Panicking isn’t going to move you forward. Stop and think, really think if you want to endure all that. If you do, you must gain the tools necessary to nourish your story.
So here’s what you do:
1. Study as many books on the craft of writing as you can. Take notes. Notes, notes, and more notes on notecards, sticky notes, or small notebooks so you can take them with you while you’re at your four minions’ numerous activities.
2. Jot down major writing skills you now realize you must learn. Exercise them through practice sentences, paragraphs, chapters, or short stories. Don’t ever toss anything you’ve written. Even if it’s total suckage. You never know what might inspire you later on.
3. Don’t be too hard on yourself for not having perfect writing skills already. Even the greatest of authors have been where you are—the beginning. They’ve honed their writing skills through years of study and utilizing writing tools.
4. Don’t compare your journey to other’s writing travels. Just don’t.
5. Some family and friends won't get you. They will learn.
6. Use the internet. It will be one of your greatest allies. I honestly don’t know how writers did it before cyberspace was available.
- Start your own site or blog.
- Surf the web to find other writers and comment on their posts.
- Follow writing resource blogs to keep your skills fresh, Fiction University being one.
- Attend a Twitter chat such as #mglitchat or #yalitchat.
- Writing communities are a must to keep your spirits up. Join one such as Writer Support 4U, which is a private Facebook group or Insecure Writers Support Group.
Be brave and give back.
7. Ask other writers to read your work. Offer to read theirs.
8. Be a mentor on a site that offers official critiques.
9. When you FINALLY take your husband’s advice to submit to publishers on your own instead of continuing your search for an agent, you’ll receive multiple offers for your YA novel. Don’t accept them. Instead, accept the offer of representation you’ll receive from a twenty-year veteran agent, who sees potential in you and your offers.
You will be forever grateful.
Hearts from your older & wiser writer self,
Author of YA, MG, & PB Tales
Author of YA, MG, & PB Tales
*I give full permission for this post to be used in the ebook compilation without royalties and/or separate compensation.