Tuesday, February 16, 2016

10 Things I Wish I Would've Known When I Finished My First Book

As most of you already know, I took a break from querying agents to do another few rounds of edits on my book, Unperfected. I did this because I realized I was trying to rush my dream of getting published. I thought if I wrote a good book and got it to the right agent at a young age that it would jump-start my writing career. I thought if I rushed, everything would happen faster.
I. was. so. wrong.
Writing takes a lot of waiting; I've talked about that in a couple of my older posts. First you have to do the actual writing, and then you have to edit, and then you have to query literary agents and wait weeks and weeks and weeks for them to reply, and then you have to go through all the stages of publication and wait quite possibly a year or two for your book to actually hit the shelves and yadayadayada. There's a lot of waiting and time involved in the writing process!
But I was totally wrong about rushing myself. Instead of making my book great quickly, I missed a lot of simple errors and made a lot of dumb mistakes. My final copy wasn't the best it could be, but I showed it to agents anyway and hoped for a miracle. Obviously, that didn't work out too well!
So here I am again, back to editing and combing through the last few tangles in my story. I've learned a lot of things through the wild rollercoaster ride that has been my writing journey, and sometimes I wish I could go back and give my younger self some pointers.


1. Write as often as possible. You have summers off, no job, and not as much homework as you will in college. Write as often as you possibly can!
2. Read as often as possible, too. Again, you have summers off, no job, and not as much homework. Read. But don't just read--absorb. Take in every word like it's a breath of fresh air. Use the knowledge you gain to your advantage.
3. Pay attention to both the little things as well as the big things. Don't view school as a place of homework and boredom; take in what you learn. Absorb it. Write it down and keep your notes. One day you're going to wish you had all those notes and random facts about the different decades you learned about in Modern American History.
4. Be patient. You won't be stuck on that chapter forever. Just breathe and let your writing brain figure it out. It'll happen.
5. Don't give yourself unnecessary deadlines. You're young. What's the point of forcing yourself to stress and finish something fast for no reason? You won't gain anything from finishing fast, you'll just make yourself tired and frustrated.
6. Slow down. Give yourself a break after you finish a long chapter or an entire book. Just because you have the next book planned doesn't mean you have to start it right away! You'll just burn out and lose motivation. Give your body and mind the proper rest they deserve.
7. You have time. Don't freak yourself out over time. You don't have to publish young. You don't have to rush into anything. You have plenty of time to spare, so take advantage of that! Don't stress yourself out.
8. Don't compare yourself to others. You are your own type of writer. You are your own person. Don't get jealous or anxious when you see someone else further along on their writing journey than you! You don't know what it took for them to get that far. They might even be rushing themselves. You just don't know!
9. Things don't have to make sense. It's called creative writing for a reason. You don't have to justify every single thing in your story or spend hours on Google to see if your story's technology is possible. Things don't have to be backed by evidence in order for readers to consider them believable! You just have to make things believable. Because let's be honest--it's pretty much impossible to create a cure-all medicine or serum that makes a person immortal. But if you say it's possible, and your writing makes it feel possible, then it's possible.
10. Take time to do things right. You have so much time. You don't need to write a book and jump right into publication! Rushing yourself won't make things happen faster; it'll just cause you to make mistakes and lose opportunities. Take the time to write and edit properly before starting to query agents. Take your time. Get a beta reader. Edit multiple times. Do it right!

Obviously, I can't go back in time and tell myself all of these things. I had to learn the hard way, but I'm actually grateful that I did! The mistakes I've made have taught me things I would never have learned otherwise, and now I can teach these lessons to others. So take my advice! Don't rush your dream. Pay attention, slow down, and above all, keep writing! :)

6 comments:

  1. Great post. The only thing I slightly disagree with is 9. Yes, make your improbable bits believable. But if you refer to history or scientific fact, do your research and get it right. There's always someone who'll pull you if you don't. Plus that research can be a fabulous idea generator!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I totally agree! I just personally spent a lot of time trying to justify some of the futuristic elements of my sci-fi story to the point that it was stressing me out. Then I realized that my story was in the future, and that it was perfectly acceptable to make technology up. But for history and facts, I definitely recommend doing your research :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are great tips! I started querying my first book when I was 19. I always thought I could be the next huge thing if I got published as a teen... But looking back at the "big hit" books that teens wrote, I can't help feeling grateful that I won't have to spend my writing career living that down.

    A note on waiting: There's a LOT of it! I think I spent two years drafting and editing my manuscript, ILLUMINATE, from concept to the end of the second draft. By the time the manuscript goes out to publishers, it will have been one year since my agent and I started working together. If it sells in the first round (I have a friend who didn't get an offer and had to go back into revisions), it still probably won't be on the shelves for another two years (different friend signed a contract in 2015 that will be released in 2017). There are a lot of unexpected turns and delays, and flexibility is paramount.

    The process takes time! Some of that time will be insanely busy, and some of it will be really really slow. But I like to think it's worth it to tell the best story you can tell.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My blog is up! http://beyondlands.blogspot.com/ Miranda is it ok if I refer to your site from time to time?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I can't wait to check it out. And sure! As long as you give credit where credit is due, that's fine with me! Thanks!

      Delete