I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until I was 23 years old and my new husband asked me what I wanted to do with my life that I realized my dream. “I think . . . I’d like to try to write.” And despite people telling me I was crazy, despite my being dyslectic, despite receiving a trunk full of rejection letters, I hung in there. I pursued my dream. But success didn’t fall in my lap. I worked hard for it. I still do!
When I couldn’t seem to get a book accepted by a publisher, I started writing articles for magazines—lots of them! If an editor suggested I learn something that would make me a better writer, then I made sure I found a class that taught whatever it was I needed to learn. And I wrote, wrote, and wrote some more. Because the old adage about practicing making perfect is true. The more you practice your craft, be it writing, painting, or whatever, the better you will get. As it turns out, “they” knew what they were talking about.
I also read many, many books. Who better to learn from than successful authors? As I read, I dissected their books. I took note of their sentence structure, scene development, and yes, even their punctuation. The authors I love were some of the best teachers I ever had. They all helped me become a better writer.
Because when an editor sits down to read your work, they want it to already be good, even better–great. So after I had polished, and polished a manuscript, I still didn’t rush to put it in a envelope and send it out to a publisher. I then got my writer friends to read my work and give me an honest critique. Now . . . you have to be careful who you hand your manuscript over to. If this person is someone who loves you, you will have to wonder if they will just tell you that they loved the book even when they really saw that it had some weak spots. And if you hand it over to someone who just doesn’t understand what you are trying to write, they might tell you to change things that shouldn’t be changed. If you hand it over to someone who just doesn’t care about you at all, their comments might hurt so much that they stop you from wanting to try. So you see, you need to pick the right person to read your book and give you feed back. I suggest finding other writers and after you feel as if you can trust them, then swap your stories and offer each other constructive criticism. But remember even if you get feedback from another person, only you can be certain what you feel is right for your story. Through my career climb, I have made lots of writing friends, and I know we have helped each other become better writers.
My advice to the budding writers out there? Read great authors and learn from them, take creative writing classes or workshops to help you develop your talent, and write—a lot. And don’t just spend all your time rewriting the same book. Finish a book and maybe do some revisions, but then start writing a new book. Every time you write a new book you learn something new that you wouldn’t have learned just rewriting the old one. Then get with other writers to form a critique group to help each other. Your strength might be in sentence structure while your friend’s talent is with writing great plots. By working together you both can offer insight and wisdom to help the other person grow as a writer. And if being a writer is truly your dream, then never give up!
So, tell me, are there any writers out there? If so, what do you like to write? While I hate not being able to offer critiques (my publisher doesn’t allow it), I love hearing about your writing dreams. And maybe even through my blog you might find another writer that you can team up with to help each other.
Murder By The Book Signing
Last Saturday I signed books at Murder By The Book in Houston, Texas. I was there with Jordan Danes, Tracy Deebs (aka Ivy Adams), and Ellie James, and I have to say, I had a blast. Chatting with my readers is one my favorite things about being an author. I have some very interesting and supportive readers! So a big thank you to all those that came out to meet me and hear me speak.
D. J. Librarian was even kind enough to bring me some homemade wolf shaped cookies. (Guess we know which team she is on!) I wanted to keep them forever, but they were just too delicious! I wolfed them down for breakfast. (Pun intended!) And did you notice the cover of Taken at Dusk in the photo? The release date is getting closer and I can’t wait!