I have a few…
- Never give up.
It’s very cliche to say, but it’s true. A lot of writers, artists, anyone really, will feel stuck, like nothing is working, like they will not succeed. But if you give up now, you’ll never know what could’ve been.
Here's a little antidote...
I started writing when I was twelve. I sucked back then, but my ego was high strung, so I thought I was gonna be the next bestseller… up until I began writing on Wattpad at age fifteen where I started getting constructive feedback. That ego took a deep dive… I went from thinking I was a bestseller to thinking I’m an embarrassment to the world. I had no idea what to do, and for a week, I cried and contemplated on quitting. Quit writing. Delete my Wattpad account. And just continue believing that I had no talent. But then it dawned on me at the end of that pity party—if I quit now, I’d never know what would happen, what could’ve been. At this time, I had read and watched interviews and other writers say that they’ve felt moments like these, like they wanted to give up. And some of those writers were bestsellers, some of them had movies out, some of them had massive fanbases. And I thought, “That could be me one day.” So, I wiped away my tears and got to work. I did whatever I could to improve. Learned the ins and outs of writing and storytelling craft, I grew thick skin and allowed the harshest pieces of advice thrown my way, I revised and revised… and not only to improve, but also get my work out there. I learned the basics of marketing (since to have readers, you need to market) and eventually… things worked out.
If I’d quit, I wouldn’t have over 1,000 followers on Wattpad. I wouldn’t have a story with over 45,000 reads and over 1,000 votes. I wouldn’t be on my fifth novel, getting it polished up for querying for the first time. Between the ages of twelve and fifteen, my family has said that I sucked at writing. At first, I thought they were just teasing me (well, my siblings at least; my dad didn’t say I sucked, he just said I needed an editor). When I was eighteen, I wrote a short story/essay for them and they all cried, and it was the first time they had ever said I was an amazing writer. Now? They boast about me to their co-workers, friends, and keep telling me that I need to get published. Heck, a few years back when I moved in with my sister, my parents helped me put together my desk and my dad turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, “This desk will be the start of writing your future upcoming bestseller.”
- Write what you want to read.
I’m sure others have said this, but I just wanted to talk about it a little bit. The reason for its overuse is because it’s true. If you get stuck on trying to make others like your story and making it perfect for them, you’re going to be miserable. Look, writing is hard. Writing takes a long time. So you better write a story that you’d read rather than what someone else will read. And besides, if you’d read it, someone else will, too.
- The story isn’t going to write itself.
You’re not a writer if you’re not actually writing. If all you’re doing with your time is looking for mood boards, thinking about your story, planning, and creating a musical playlist… but you’re not doing any actual writing? You’re not a writer. A writer does all of these things but also writes. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people do this because they procrastinate or don’t actually want to write the story. Oh, and waiting for inspiration to strike? You do realize that the story is just gonna take five times longer to get finished right? If you are one to procrastinate every single time you open the Word document or every time you have a sliver of free time to write, you don’t because you’re muse isn’t musing… this a massive problem, and it’s worse when you’re trying to post it to the internet because you’ll have no readers by the end of it. They’ll all be dead. I get writing as a hobby, but if you’re actually wanting to finish the book, you need to discipline yourself. Sit your butt in the chair and get to work.
- Give yourself small goals in front of your major goals.
Something I’ve learned over the years is to take small steps instead of big steps. For example, say your main goal is to finish your story. At first, this can seem very daunting because you haven’t even started the book. Well, a small goal would be to write five chapters (or say write 15,000 words). This goal seems a lot more doable than finishing a 24 chapter story (or an 80,000 word manuscript). And when you create these smaller goals, they actually get you closer to your main goal.
- Writing is a journey, not a contest.
One of the biggest things I had to retrain myself to do is to not think of writing as a contest. I can’t tell you how many times I get jealous of someone who gets a publishing deal, who gets a movie, who becomes a bestseller… and when I was younger, this was a lot harder one me because I felt like I was running a race and I had to sit for a moment and die while everyone else won it. Like Bluey’s mom said, you need to run your own race. It’s a journey, not a contest. And we’re all in it together. So, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, instead of hating on someone for being more successful than you are because of your jealousy, learn to bring people up instead of shoving them down. Learn to accept that you will eventually get there. So, stop comparing yourself to someone else, especially when you have no idea how much work they’ve put in or what connections they have or what they’ve done to get to where they are.