Time Travel and Writing Advice
Recently I heard from a very dear friend of mine, one who I stupidly lost touch with, and her voice brought back a time in my life when I desperately wanted to write but just didn’t know the way.
Here is a list of things I wish I could tell that younger woman, the one who Carrie knew. I put the stuff for her in bold, and the updated information for you right after. Maybe somehow this will influence my past, but even if not, I hope it helps you for the future:
*you WILL publish fiction. And today, you can self-publish whenever you feel you are ready. When will you be ready? A very good question, and the topic for another blog post <g>
*writing a lot is the surest path to success. I think this will always be true, and today I think that even more than in the recent past, the most prolific writers are most likely to succeed. We’re entering a second golden age of pulp, and the people who can produce for their fans are the ones who will gain market share. So, write!
*join RWA: Romance Writers of America . I think that RWA is an amazing resource for writers, and in the 1990s when I was trying to find out about writing it was one of the only ones. Today, with the explosion of writing industry blogs, you can find out a ton of information. I would caution you to get the best information, and don’t believe everything you read simply because it is on the internet. Just find impeccable sources, take what works for you, and forget the rest.
*write what you love to read. That was good advice for me in those days…I loved genre fiction in all of its forms, but wrote dreary literary dreck. But I would say write what you love to write — the stories that insist on getting written. The stuff that feels so easy that it is cheating. As you get more confident in your writing, you can expand from there if you want.
*read a lot. And stuff that is fun, not stuff you’ve been told is good for you. This is always true :-)
*find other writers who are serious about honing their craft. Just as true today as ever, though there are many more places to find them than there used to be. Back in the day, I would have recommended a writing conference, a local chapter of RWA (if one existed back then) or putting up a sign at a local bookstore to start a writer’s group. Today, forums like Absolute Write, Romance Divas and so many others are available online, not to mention online writing chapters of RWA and other organizations. But finding other writers these days is as easy as checking out Twitter for a couple of minutes — try the #amwriting, #writegoal, #litchat hashtags for starters.
*write short stories for publication. Find short story markets in Writers Market and keep submitting. Especially in SFF, the short story market is stronger than it was in those days. Tough to break into, but diverse and wonderful. I’m still working on this piece of advice :-)
*Become a genre writer — and find out what this terminology means. This was, and is, good advice for me, but it may not be for you. Don’t get hung up on labels for your work — write it, and when you’re done you will see where it belongs.
*do not get an MFA or any other kind of fancy degree. You will make the most of the fancy degrees you’ve already gotten, but you don’t need any more. Unless you are planning to teach creative writing at a university, this is still good advice. You do not need an expert to confer the title “writer” upon you — only you can do that. Check out John Scalzi’s excellent MFA post written in the wake of the latest Frey scandal.
*don’t give up! You are already good enough! All you need is practice… This was true, is true, and will always be true. Believe in your passion for writing, and keep doing it. The more you write, the better you are likely to get.