Thursday, April 17, 2014

What I Wish I Knew When I Started

Recently, I’ve been thinking back.  Maybe I’m just in a nostalgic mood, but I’ve been wondering about the me from ten years ago.  What would she think of me now?  And what would I tell her, if I had the chance?

There’s been so many paths that I’ve taken that I never imagined existed when I was a teenager. 

To answer the first question, I think fifteen year old me would be amazed by who I was today.  I’ve overcome so many fears, experienced so many new things, taken so many risks.

And that would be my biggest advice to the younger version of me.  Don’t be afraid to take those risks.  Don’t be afraid of pain.  Because without that, I would never be who I am today.  Those growing moments are the moments that I cherish more than the easy times.

In the writing sense, there are so many things I wish I could tell myself.  Things I wish that I’d known when I first started writing.

Me from many years ago

1.       First drafts.

 It’s the one area where you can take words and just put them together on paper.  There’s always the chance to improve, the revise, to rewrite.  But without that first draft, there’s nothing to build on.  Get the words on the page.  Get the story out.  The first draft is one of the greatest things that a writer can create because once it’s finished, it’s written.

2.       Writing is harder than it looks.

 Can I count the number of novels that I’ve never finished?  No.  Having an idea is just the first step.  The most exciting step, admittedly, but the steam runs out first.  It takes determination, perseverance and just a little bit of crazy.  But there’s nothing like actually finishing a draft.  Knowing that you were able to focus for just long enough to create something.

3.       Practice, Practice, Practice. 

One improves writing by writing.  Practicing putting sentences together, putting thoughts one after another on a page.  You can’t just learn that by reading a book or taking a class.  It’s a matter of doing it yourself and putting what you learn to use.  It’s like anything else you want to learn.  If you want to play the piano, practice.  If you want to be able to place a folley, practice.  Never stop practicing.

This will be continued next week!  What kind of advice would you tell your writer self from ten years ago?