Friday, August 01, 2014

Don't Look Back on Your Writing Journey With Regrets—9 Things to Avoid

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Life is full of regrets and the writer's life is no different. But since I'm a few years further down the path than a lot of you, I thought I'd share some things I wish I'd done differently. These are some regrets you don't have to have if you pay attention now.


1. Following the trends instead of writing what’s on your heart. It’s tempting to think this or that is hot right now and an easy sell. The truth is, nothing is an easy sell. It all takes work. And more than that, it takes time. Chasing a trend will doom you to always being behind.

2. Not investing more time in your dream. All around you are opportunities to grow as a writer. Whether it’s local writing groups, online classes or chats, or conferences. Making your dream a priority is important.

3. Letting others define success. Success is different for each of us. If we let someone else’s definition guide us, we’ve lost our way.

4. Not saying yes to stretching your writing muscles. Courage is essential in this business. It’s what so often separates success from failure. If I only did what I knew I could, I’d never grow as a writer.

5. Listening to the negative voices in your head. We all have them, no matter where we are in the writing journey. The only difference is whether or not we choose to believe them.

6. Not networking more. In this business, as much or more than any other, it’s who you know. Building relationships can keep you sane, give you valuable leads, and open the doors to publication.

7. Submitting stuff too early in the editing process. It’s tempting to get frustrated with the process and think something is good enough. Every single time I tried that short cut it ended in failure.

8. Not writing more. Isaac Asimov was once asked what he’d do if he found out he only had six months to live. His answer haunts me. “Write faster.”

9. Letting the jealousy and pettiness of others derail your progress. It’s a competitive field and for some, winning is everything. These few can beat you down to build themselves up, if you let them. Don’t.

This is what’s on my list. What’s on yours?

14 comments:

Ron Estrada said...

Good post, Edie. I'd add to that with don't be afraid of the plans you make. Set them in motion and don't look back. It's amazing what you can acomplish when you don't give yourself a choice.

Edie Melson said...

Ron, excellent addition! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

Ane Mulligan said...

Good things to avoid, Edie. I'd add hanging your feelings on your pen. When you get rejected or a tough critique, remember it's the writing not you. And though your writing seems like you, it isn't and it can always get better. Even multi-published writers continue to grow.

Edie Melson said...

Ane, another good one to add to the list. It's so hard not to take manuscript rejection personally - no matter where you are in your writing journey! Thanks!

Michael Ehret said...

There are so many things ... I'll be we could each add at least one or two things to this list (And all of yours are good!)

Me? I'd add, "Don't let one person's opinion of your work, offered on what must have been a bad day for them (that's my generous assessment), impact how you view yourSELF and your writing ability."

Kathy Reinhart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy Reinhart said...

Great post! Two phrases I like to use when I speak, 'Commit to the journey' and 'Write, or your creative ink will dry up'. Distractions abound, but discipline and focus are key....

Shelli Littleton said...

Wonderful list, Edie! You blessed my soul today.

greenlightlady said...

Thank you, Edie. I especially found #4 encouraging. It's nice to be reminded that we need to try something in order to learn how to do it... I learn by doing--not by thinking about it.

Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

Cindy said...

Great advice. The only thing I'm not so sure about #1 because I have seen someone write to trends and the book leaped to the best seller lists and continues to sell with very little promotion.

Anonymous said...

Once your manuscript is finished, select 5-10 beta readers -- not relatives or close friends. Wait to hear everyone's responses before making any changes to the story.

K.L. Phelps said...

Nice! #5, I try not to listen to those voices, but it's hard at times.

Helena Halme said...

What excellent advice! Write more and not listening to those negative voices in my head are two pieces of advice that hit home to me.

Katherine Roberts said...

Number 3 definitely. And number 5. And 8... though I'd change that to "not writing more of what I feel happiest writing" since I've wasted a lot of time over the years writing what publishers said they wanted (and then decided they didn't).