Monday, February 24, 2014

Advice for Young Writers

I was at the Amelia Island Book Festival this past weekend (picture below - check out my new 'do!) as my alter-ego.

In the afternoon, an adorable girl in her teens came up to me. She was obviously nervous, fidgeting constantly. Without any introduction she said, "What advice do you have for young writers?"

I rambled on for a bit and I'm sure I hit most of the important parts, but I thought about it later. Here's what I wish I could have told her:

1) You're already on the right track. If you're reading this blog post. If you're going to book festivals to meet authors and ask them this question, you are so far ahead of the game that I kind wish I were you right now.

2) Keep going. There is one thing every writing career has in common: at some point, it's going to suck so hard you can't imagine continuing. Does it make it easier that every writer has gone through the same thing at some point? Probably not. But at least you know it's not just you.

3) Every word you write makes you a better writer. None of us come out of the womb with a publishable book. Honestly? Your writing probably isn't good enough yet. (Godiva knows my first book wasn't even close.) But you will be, if you stick with it and are willing to learn.

4) Read. Read everything. Inside your chosen genre, and especially outside of it. Stuff from this century, and every century before it. Male authors, female authors, genderqueer authors. Poetry, non-fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, sci-fi, philosophy, literary. Everything. Once you've read every single book you have access to, read them again. Never, ever stop reading.

5) Remember: publishing is a business. This one is particularly hard to tell an eager teenager. Yes, writing is an art. But publishing is a business. They're closely related, but they're not the same. The earlier you can learn to compartmentalize the two, the more sane you'll be.

Lastly: Good luck.

What advice would you give to young writers?

1 comment:

  1. I would probably ask the young writer what do they love most about writing? Then I would advise them to hold on to that "it" that drives them to write so it's with them when the writing is great and when the writing is having a tantrum moment.