June is a shaping up to be a super busy month for me. Luckily, I have some amazing friends helping me out.
Shirley Holder Platt writes Clean Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her work can be found on Amazon.com. She also occasionally blogs about writing at: TheWriteRomance.Com. Subscribe to her newsletter, and she’ll send you a pdf of her book of twelve short stories, one for each month of the year, entitled “What’s Love Got to do with Green Beer?”
Welcome Shirley, and thank you for bailing me out!!! You’ve been a friend and confidante in my writing journey and I am truly blessed to have someone so accomplished in my corner.
Five Things I Learned my first year as a Writer with Shirley Holder Platt:
I began taking my writing seriously almost a year ago to the day. I retired from corporate life and thought, like many people do, “why don’t I write a book?” I knew so little about novel writing that I had no fear. I guess I’m glad, because I’m into my fifth book now and hope to write many more. That said, there are a few things I wish I’d known going into this new profession. I’ll share five of those ideas with you today.
Number One, and this is at the top of the list, because it’s a really big one: Writing the book is only the beginning.
Number Two: It gets easier the more you do it.
Number Three: Not everyone will like what you write, and that’s OK.
Number Four: Sometimes you have to chase the muse down, put a rope around her and hogtie her to get her to stay.
Number Five: It’s all worth it.
Let me explain.
- Writing is only the beginning.
I was so proud of myself the day I managed to get more than 10,000 words written on one story! I thought, “this is fun, I could do this all day.” Well, that’s pretty much what I did. I wrote all day, every day for a while, and eventually I had a novel. I took it to an editor, and bless her heart, she did her best not to laugh. It was a mess. I had no idea about story structure or flow. But I listened, learned from her, and rewrote until we were both satisfied. Then I learned how to self-publish. Sounds great, right? Except nobody read my book except my sister and my mom. That’s when I found out that I would have to become my own marketer. I’m now learning about advertising. But before I could do that, I had to learn a whole new attitude. Writing is only the beginning. After writing comes rewriting, editing, rewriting some more, getting a great cover, writing a blurb that will capture strangers’ attention and make them want to buy your book, running ads so those strangers will have a chance to know you’ve written the darned thing. Only then can you lean back and let the money roll in. Oh wait, you have to write more books.
2. The good thing is, it does get easier, so dream big.
You’ve written, rewritten, polished, published, advertised and sold your book. You’ve learned the basics of your craft. But most importantly, you’ve continued to write. I think of it as exercise. If you want a muscle to be stronger, you exercise it regularly. If you want to improve your craft, you write daily. It’s as simple as that. And somewhere along the way, you find your voice, your tone, your rhythm, and hopefully, your joy. Dream big dreams. You never know, they just might come true.
3. It’s all great at this point, but what happens when you get those rejections or hateful reviews?
That’s when you learn that this is a business. It’s not all fun and games. It’s hard work to pump out good stories. You pour your heart, blood and sweat onto the page. You take months to work out plots and subplots. You hone your dialogue until it takes on a life of its own. And it only takes minutes for someone to say they don’t like it. That first rejection or bad review feels like death. I curled up into a fetal position and felt sorry for myself for exactly twenty-four hours. I mourned the fact that this person didn’t like my work, but I unfurled my body, sat my butt back in my chair and started writing again. As soon as I did that, I felt better. I challenged myself to write better. I made a note and posted it on my desk to never surrender. And I’m still here!
4. That muse. She doesn’t always show up!
Before I was a writer, back when I dreamed of being a writer, I believed that inspiration would come to me. I imagined a bright light shining down from the heavens, pouring into my head, heart, soul. Prose would pour in and through me. My fingers would simply be conduits.
It was a good dream. But that’s all it was. What I’ve learned is that like exercising my writing muscle, I have to train my muse to show up. There are days, don’t get me wrong, when everything comes together and the words flow effortlessly. Those days are awesome. But they are not the majority of days. Most days, I haven’t a clue in my head what I want to do on the page until I sit down and begin. I’ll type a few lines, maybe keep them, maybe delete them all. But something about moving my fingers over the keyboard gets the juices flowing. Before I know it, I’ll have written another compelling scene, or a whole chapter. It’s a bit like cranking an old car up, jumping in and riding her downhill. The muse kicks in eventually and I chug up the next hill with her at my side. I imagine her with hair flowing in the wind, a scarf too, maybe a puppy in her lap. Why not? She’s my muse, right?
5. It’s all worth it.
There’s something satisfying about seeing your thoughts come to life. Most of my life I had partial stories running around in my head. Now I have carefully crafted plots, well rounded characters, books that I can hold in my hand or read on my devices. And other people read my stories. My make-believe friends come to life for others. And that first time a stranger says, I read and enjoyed your book, believe me, it’s all worth it.