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profen4
09-17-2011, 07:47 PM
Imagine you could go back an talk to yourself as you were just starting out writing seriously. What advice would you give?

Me: I'd tell myself, "when you get an agent, or get a publishing deal, don't bother telling your non-writer friends until you get closer to book release date. Non writers do not understand the industry well, and there are few things as annoying (and sometimes discouraging) as having someone ask you "Has your agent sold your book yet?" every other day. And then look pitifully at you when you say, for the thrid time that week, "No. Not yet." Or, when you tell them you did sell a manuscript, but that it won't be out for two years, it's bothersome having to explain over and over, that no, it's not because it needed a lot of work.

It would be far preferable (for me) if the conversation went like this:

"Hey I signed with an agent."
"Really? Has she sold it to a publisher yet?"
"Yep, sure has."
"Really? when will it be in stores?"
"Tomorrow."

AlishaS
09-17-2011, 08:12 PM
Nice post, I think everyone wishes that a conversation would go like that.

Hmmm. I'd tell me self to pay attention in highschool, because you might need all those grammar and punctuation lessons you learned someday.

Kateness
09-17-2011, 08:14 PM
Ignore the asshole who told you at age 14, when you were hardcore writing your magnum opus, that writing fiction was pointless and that you should look into journalism, which discouraged you so much that you stopped writing for about six months.

gothicangel
09-17-2011, 08:23 PM
You are not God's Gift to Literature, you will receive rejection letters, you'll even trunk your first book. ;)

Williebee
09-17-2011, 08:23 PM
Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.
Not doing that doesn't mean you are not writing, but
It does mean you haven't written.
Corollary:
A writer who is not yet published is still a writer.
A writer who hasn't written? Not so much.

Linda Adams
09-17-2011, 08:25 PM
I would tell myself the following:

Ignore the craft books. They're going to tell you what most people commonly do wrong and what most people commonly don't have problems with. Everything you do wrong is something no one else does wrong, and everything you find easy is something everyone else has trouble with.

iRock
09-17-2011, 08:35 PM
Get a comfortable chair.

Anaquana
09-17-2011, 08:57 PM
Imagine you could go back an talk to yourself as you were just starting out writing seriously. What advice would you give?

Me: I'd tell myself, "when you get an agent, or get a publishing deal, don't bother telling your non-writer friends until you get closer to book release date. Non writers do not understand the industry well, and there are few things as annoying (and sometimes discouraging) as having someone ask you "Has your agent sold your book yet?" every other day. And then look pitifully at you when you say, for the thrid time that week, "No. Not yet." Or, when you tell them you did sell a manuscript, but that it won't be out for two years, it's bothersome having to explain over and over, that no, it's not because it needed a lot of work.

It would be far preferable (for me) if the conversation went like this:

"Hey I signed with an agent."
"Really? Has she sold it to a publisher yet?"
"Yep, sure has."
"Really? when will it be in stores?"
"Tomorrow."

This. Oh so much this. Even after having explained to people how slow the publishing industry is, I still get these questions.


Get a comfortable chair.

A comfortable chair with padded arm rests.

These Mean Streets
09-17-2011, 09:01 PM
"No, no, no, no, no! Learn to drive a truck or something, you poor fool!"

leahzero
09-17-2011, 09:07 PM
A writer who is not yet published is still a writer.
A writer who hasn't written? Not so much.

Word.

I'd tell myself:

Reading is not enough practice. Practice is writing until the writing sucks less.

You will, at times, fail. It doesn't mean you're not good. It means you're growing.

You may have a natural gift for language, but it doesn't mean you can slack off. It takes discipline and perseverance to be published.

Learn to harness your competitive spirit and let it drive you in a positive, productive way, instead of causing you to brood and criticize. (Still working on that one.)

Susan Lanigan
09-17-2011, 09:19 PM
Do exactly what you ended up doing, only sooner and faster.

LJD
09-17-2011, 09:38 PM
You know, there's no advice I really wish I could give myself when I started writing. But I wish I could go back 2-3 years before that, and say Start now! What they hell are you waiting for?

CheekyWench
09-17-2011, 09:41 PM
Shut up, turn off the internet, and write.

... I still need to tell myself that.

DeleyanLee
09-17-2011, 10:07 PM
Don't stick with that writer's group just to impress your boyfriend. In fact, dump the boyfriend all together.

scarletpeaches
09-17-2011, 10:16 PM
I wouldn't tell myself anything. Everything I did made me the writer I am today.

Wouldn't have minded being published a few years earlier, though.

BenPanced
09-17-2011, 10:40 PM
Shut up, turn off the internet, and write.

... I still need to tell myself that.
Do what, turn off the where, and something else, what?

virtue_summer
09-18-2011, 04:10 AM
Learn to revise. Seriously. Stop shoving the manuscripts into a box the minute you spot a problem and promising yourself you'll "get it right next time." Do the work and learn to fix your mistakes, 'cause you're always going to make some and pretending otherwise is folly.

So, about the same advice I was giving myself this morning.

DancingMaenid
09-18-2011, 07:00 AM
I'd tell myself not to obsess so much over not being good enough, and to be the writer I am instead of the writer I thought I should be.

kaitie
09-18-2011, 07:08 AM
It's okay to suck. Really. Most people do when they start out, so stop comparing yourself to everyone else and get off your ass and start working. You can do this, and sucking is great because it means you can only get better.

Kitty27
09-18-2011, 08:48 AM
Control your word count. Really,you are completely off the chain! The world doesn't need a 200,000 word vampire novel.

Get your ego under control and stop practicing your Bram Stoker award speech in front of your Pekingese.

blacbird
09-18-2011, 01:09 PM
Me: I'd tell myself, "when you get an agent, or get a publishing deal, don't bother telling your non-writer friends until you get closer to book release date. Non writers do not understand the industry well, and there are few things as annoying (and sometimes discouraging) as having someone ask you "Has your agent sold your book yet?" every other day.

Never being able to interest an agent or get a publishing deal, and therefore never being able to tell your non-writer friends anything, is a hell of a lot more annoying and discouraging. Trust me on this.

My advice to me, based on my experience?:

Have no expectations. Have no aspirations. Those lead only to despair.

caw

TNK
09-18-2011, 02:00 PM
I tell myself that it's okay to suck, and that I can make it pretty later.

I also have this quote copied on a Stickies note:


Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.- Neil Gaiman

I see it every time I turn on my computer. :)

heyjude
09-18-2011, 03:36 PM
You know, there's no advice I really wish I could give myself when I started writing. But I wish I could go back 2-3 years before that, and say Start now! What they hell are you waiting for?

Almost word for word, this is what I thought when I read the OP. :)

seun
09-18-2011, 04:19 PM
Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You're gonna lose. Smile, you fuck.

Failing that, I'd tell myself to bear in mind the business side of writing and not just think a publisher will go for a book because I think it's great. Especially when it's shit.

Jamesaritchie
09-18-2011, 07:32 PM
Well, the opposite of Linda. I wish someone had told me about five years sooner that the most important thing I could do, aside from planting butt in chair and following Heinlein's Rule to the letter, would be to read the entire 808 section of the library as fast as I possibly could.

For me, the Holy Trinity is: 1. Reading much. 2. Writing often. 3. Following Heinlein's Rules to the letter.

Fortunately, the first two came naturally, and the third made so much sense that I started following the Rules as soon as I learned them. But craft books took a lot longer.

Reading craft books, particularly ones by writers whose work you like, is a very close fourth to the Trinity. Words on the page are important, but the method and technique a writer uses to get those words on the page are also vital, and it took me far too long to learn this.

I don't believe for a second that any of us are unique, that everything I do wrong is something no one else does wrong, or everything I find easy is something everyone else has trouble with.

Writing doesn't break down into anywhere near enough areas for this to be even remotely true. I learned considerably more in six months by reading craft books by writers I liked, and believing what they had to say, than I did in five years or intense reading and writing without them. Light bulb after light bulb came on when I started reading and believing those books.

ladyleeona
09-18-2011, 07:47 PM
you have the writing you've earned.

(for the most part)

COchick
09-18-2011, 07:54 PM
I would have told myself to read more. To spend every day immersed in a book, just to see what's out there.

scarletpeaches
09-18-2011, 08:01 PM
That's one piece of advice no-one could ever accuse me of needing to hear!

Wordwrestler
09-18-2011, 08:06 PM
You're open to suggestions and willing to do the hard work of revising—great! Now, please don't listen to the publishing professionals who tell you to remove all but one fight scene from your book about a fighter, or to have the father your character has been missing show up and make things all better in your book about a little girl learning how to save herself and others without him.

Sometimes you know your book best.

Say no thanks, even if it means saying no to an offer.

Miss Plum
09-18-2011, 09:24 PM
Based on Published Author Friend's experience: It turns out that the highbrow publishing world is just like every other industry -- a few very good people, a few very bad people, and the rest mediocre. Just because they hold the keys to the kingdom doesn't mean they're smarter or more hard-working than you. When they lose your manuscript, forget to mail out your contract, confess that they don't know much about selling film rights, spell your name wrong, switch editors on you midstream, never answer your perfectly reasonable questions ("Are you planning to keep my book as a midlist hardback for the foreseeable future or publish it in paperback?") and drop the ball on PR, don't be surprised.

squeaky pram
09-21-2011, 01:27 PM
I'd tell myself not to obsess so much over not being good enough, and to be the writer I am instead of the writer I thought I should be.

This!


It's okay to suck. Really. Most people do when they start out, so stop comparing yourself to everyone else and get off your ass and start working. You can do this, and sucking is great because it means you can only get better.

This!


I tell myself that it's okay to suck, and that I can make it pretty later.

And this!

I'd tell myself (shake myself by the shoulders if I had to) not to run myself down (e.g. "you're too stupid", "you're no good") and not to demand perfection, which is the perfect recipe for giving up. I'd give myself permission to write bad first drafts. And tell myself that I can't write anyone else's stories, however much I admire them. And, by the same token, nobody else can write mine.

Devil Ledbetter
09-21-2011, 04:25 PM
I learned considerably more in six months by reading craft books by writers I liked, and believing what they had to say, than I did in five years or intense reading and writing without them. Light bulb after light bulb came on when I started reading and believing those books.What I learned from craft books was mainly how to recognize good (and bad) storytelling. Once you've develop an understanding of how storytelling and characterization work, you can gain a lot from reading fiction.

I liken it to songwriting. I listened to music endlessly my whole life. Then I got a guitar and started learning how to play. It wasn't until I'd learned to play other people's songs that I started to understand how songwriting works. Now I can write my own songs.

By itself, listening to music was not enough.

crunchyblanket
09-21-2011, 05:06 PM
This fantasy epic you're writing? When you're 25, you'll look back on it and wonder whether your 16-year-old self was serious about publishing it.

Cherish the days when you can churn out 2000 words in one sitting. It won't be that way forever.

Your poetry sucks. Seriously.

shakeysix
09-21-2011, 05:13 PM
grow some balls--s6

Irysangel
09-21-2011, 06:17 PM
Pick a genre and stick with it.
Revise those books as soon as you write them. Ignore the garbage about putting it aside for six months - that's not how you work. We both know you're lazy and will never come back to them.

:)

Alitriona
09-21-2011, 06:26 PM
Have faith in yourself and your ability to tell a decent, readable story. If you don't, no one else will.

Back up, back up, back up.

stray
09-21-2011, 06:37 PM
Words of advice for my younger self?

'You were lucky you didn't have the internet back then. But then again you weren't.'

'Wait until its finished before you submit the bloody thing!'

'Try to get out more. Oh, right, you did that already, hence the liver...'

'Good luck, asshole... Like I wanted to be an English teacher?'

'It's a great life. Honest...'

Phaeal
09-21-2011, 06:50 PM
The world doesn't need a 200,000 word vampire novel.


God, I would so love a good 200K word vampire novel.

The operative word being "good." ;)

I would say, "Self, do not abandon that draft. Finish it. Then finish the revisions. Then sub it until you run out of places to sub it, while finishing the next MS. Repeat, rejections be damned, until you succeed or discover something you like doing better."

PrincessofPersia
09-22-2011, 12:10 AM
Your poetry sucks. Seriously.

Haha, yes. So true. I would tell myself to stop writing shitty poetry and focus on what you're not so shitty at.

Hey, my word count is an anagram of my post count. ETA: Nevermind, I posted again.

Dani
09-22-2011, 03:34 AM
I would tell myself this, exactly:
You're about to send your first novel to a beta reader. She's going to rip your novel apart, just as you asked. She's going to make you quit writing for months.

Don't send it to her. Because as much as you like your novel being ripped apart, having one nice thing in nearly 100k words might have been the difference between stepping away from the computer and getting back to work.

Manuel Royal
09-22-2011, 06:54 AM
I'd say, "You're 15, so you've got time. Stop using so many metaphors; you don't need such a florid style. Keep working at your craft, and by your twenties you'll be ready to start a career. No matter what happens, don't stop and spend a quarter century thinking about it before you start writing again."

Margarita Skies
09-22-2011, 07:30 AM
I'm not exactly known for doing things the 'normal' way or 'the way they should be done'. My mind works 24/7. Literally. I sleep, but my mind stays wide awake. I am always daydreaming. Always. And when I really sleep, I dream all night long, from the moment I place my head in the pillow, to the moment I open my eyes the next day. The last part used to be true until I started sleeping with the TV on by obligation. I'd rather not explain. Point is my mind never sleeps. My body does, but my mind doesn't.


Interpret it how you may and think what you want, and this might sound banal and downright insane to you, but my piece of advice to myself is (as a writer)


Don't waste your time writing draft after draft of the same story or novel. If you don't have what it takes, what's the use of mixing the same shit over and over? That will only make the stench worse. Write it the way it comes to your mind, like a movie, and don't waste your time writing draft after draft of the same thing until you know for sure what in the hell you're doing, in other words, work this way until I take literary or writing courses in college. That way I can go back and look at the first drafts for the first time in God knows how long and according to what I've learned, write the second draft. Then submit. If it is rejected by 500-1,000 agents, literally, then I'll know I do NOT have what it takes, I DO NOT know what I'm doing, and I DON'T HAVE a future in this. I've been wasting my time for God knows how long, and finally, at age 40 or 50, I can start looking for a way to make a living in another direction...


OMG, acting in low-budget horror movies made at home, like my current MC...oh, wait. *Back to college to take every course pertaining to acting* and then *makes it in the acting business or whatever.*

*Finds a career as the next superstar of horror movies on Chiller! Yay!* At age 60 or 70.


*Makes it.*

*Celebrates.*

*Dies.*

*Finishes the first draft of Chronicles of Magali Fuentes.





Oh, wait....

Brutal Mustang
09-22-2011, 08:27 AM
Well, the opposite of Linda. I wish someone had told me about five years sooner that the most important thing I could do, aside from planting butt in chair and following Heinlein's Rule to the letter, would be to read the entire 808 section of the library as fast as I possibly could.

I agree.

Someone can watch dressage horses (like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKQgTiqhPbw) one) perform all day, day after day without truly understanding what is going on--the forwardness, the straightness, the collection, the suppleness, the way the horse is on the bit, et cetera. To become a good dressage rider, one must:



Understand the principles of dressage.
Watch a lot of good and bad riders ride.
And practice, everyday.


I think writing well is the same way. I believe the writer must:



Learn the principles of writing off forums like these, and the 808 section in the library--the more the better! Knowledge is a good thing.
Read a lot of good and bad books by other authors.
And practice, everyday.

Just wish I knew this fifteen years ago.

Libbie
09-22-2011, 07:47 PM
"Don't marry that guy. Keep writing instead."

AlwaysJuly
09-22-2011, 08:25 PM
"You don't need to spend seven years writing your magnum opus when it's your first real frickin' novel. You're too close to it, it's too personal, and you're wasting time you could spend writing six other books instead of endlessly re-writing this one. Which you will never even be ready to sell."

Yeah. That. Anyone have a time machine?

PrincessofPersia
09-22-2011, 10:53 PM
Anyone have a time machine?

Yes, but it only goes to the future.

Margarita Skies
09-23-2011, 02:20 AM
"You don't need to spend seven years writing your magnum opus when it's your first real frickin' novel. You're too close to it, it's too personal, and you're wasting time you could spend writing six other books instead of endlessly re-writing this one. Which you will never even be ready to sell."

Yeah. That. Anyone have a time machine?



:Trophy::Trophy::Trophy:
:Trophy::Trophy::Trophy:
:Trophy::Trophy::Trophy:
:Trophy::Trophy::Trophy:
:Trophy::Trophy::Trophy:


ETA: Oh, yeah, and I wish I had a time machine to go 20 years into the future, just for a couple days, just to see what I'm doing at the time, if I have grown children yet, how many, if any one of them inherited the annoying side of me or...


Wait, what?

Oh, yeah, that...

And I can't deny I want to find out if by then I will have published, as in published anything the real way, and how much money I will have made. Does Margarita have a mansion yet? :D

timewaster
09-24-2011, 02:08 AM
I think I'd tell myself to enjoy writing and not get up on 'success'.

Friendly Frog
09-25-2011, 04:32 PM
Hey younger me, there are going to be some issues in the future that are going to impact your writing. But look, they're unavoidable and were so long before. So don't fret and just try to enjoy your writing.

swvaughn
09-26-2011, 02:37 PM
Well... honestly, I wouldn't tell my younger self anything at all, given the chance.

I know me, and I know the me I was -- and there's no way in hell I would have listened.

I have had quite a bit of advice about writing. Some of it's been well-meaning but wrong, some of it has been absolutely spot-on. It has come from writing books, agents, editors, successful writers, friends, and family.

The me I was wouldn't have listened. She would've just kept going on with what she was doing, the way she was doing it, convinced that somehow, the things that had failed for everyone else would work for *her*.

I had to learn my own lessons, or they wouldn't have sunk in. :D

aruna
09-26-2011, 03:17 PM
This. Oh so much this. Even after having explained to people how slow the publishing industry is, I still get these questions.



A comfortable chair with padded arm rests.

I still haven't found "my" chair.


"No, no, no, no, no! Learn to drive a truck or something, you poor fool!"

Plumbing. Everyone needs a plumber.

Ryan David Jahn
09-26-2011, 08:19 PM
I wouldn't tell my younger self anything. I think you're supposed to make mistakes when you're starting out; they lead to discoveries -- about writing, and about who you are as a writer -- that no amount of outside instruction can provide.

I do sometimes need my younger self to pop into the present, though, so he can remind me to enjoy the process: you do this because you love it, asshole; don't be so serious about everything.