Monday, April 8, 2019

Advice for Aspiring Writers

I'm not quite sure I'm qualified to give advice to aspiring writers since I've yet to be published. But then I remembered that just because I'm not an author, doesn't mean I'm not a writer. I write. Anyone that writes is a writer. So here are a few things I've picked up over the years.

-You have to actually sit in the chair and write. You can do all the research you want, read all the books, make connections on social media. But you actually need to put in the work. Write well, write badly, just write!

- Read. A LOT. One of my favorite things about trying to make a career out of writing is that I get to set aside time every day to read. I read a lot of women's fiction and military stories, since those are within the genre I'm writing. But I also pepper in romance and fan fiction because that's what I enjoy and it's just good to experience as much as possible.

- Find the way you write the best. Is it late at night or early morning? Do you need to plot it all out first, or just start writing and see what happens? Type it all out or hand write it first? For years I started and stopped novels on my computer, assuming I should type it all out first. But once I picked up a notebook, I realized my brain doesn't work best in front of a screen. When I'm handwriting it all, the words just flow. Find the place and time that works best for you and get down the words!

-At the same time, be flexible. I have a hashtag on my instagram of #whereAmandawrites. While I prefer to write either early morning or late at night up in my office, I'm also a mom to two kids with a husband whose work schedule changes daily. So if I want to actually finish anything, I need to be more flexible with my writing time. That's where handwriting it all first comes in handy. In the car picking up the kids, at the pool while they play in the summer, standing in the kitchen while making dinner, I make sure to get in my writing time wherever I can.

-Set word count goals. Now I don't know if anyone else struggles with this, but I have trouble with feeling accomplished when I spend the day writing. You're not going to finish a book in a day, and publishing takes months, or if you're me, years. I often get in bed at the end of the day and wonder if I've done enough to further my career. That's where word counts come in. As long as I hit my word count, I feel accomplished. Also, if I hit it early, I'll treat myself to an extra long run or more TV time, and I don't feel guilty for stepping away from my writing. You need to choose a number that works for you, but most of the time 1500 words is what is best for me {That's handwritten, and then I need to take the time to type it up as well}

- Find some writing buddies. This is still something I'm working on, but I do have a few close writing friends I've discovered along this process. Being a writer is hard and lonely, and most of your friends and family will not fully understand the process. So find people slogging through this life like you. Send each other pages and queries to read and bounce ideas off. Find someone to text when you just want to scream and rail. Find someone to tell you to keep going. Find your people.

- Nothing is going to turn out how you think it will. TRUST ME. This writing journey has taken so many twists and turns, I barely know which way is up anymore. And write from the beginning too. My first book turn a wildly different turn at the end even I didn't see coming. So I've learned to stop fighting what I think should happen, and focus my time and energy on dealing with each twist that comes my way.

- Take time for yourself. Writers are highly emotional people. It's what makes our work so good. But in a business as cutthroat as this, we're more prone to taking things personally. My life hasn't felt this much like a roller coaster of emotions since I was dating. Some days I need to step back from social media and writing in general and take care of myself. Long runs, time with my family, catching up on my favorite tv shows, crying into a bowl of brownies. Do what makes you feel better, get some sleep, and try again tomorrow.

- Just keep writing. I have to believe we'll all make it if we just keep at it long enough! And if you need a writing buddy to keep pushing you, please reach out to me!

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