How I Found The Write Path

Hey, gang! What if we could write a letter to our past selves and share the wisdom we've learned along the long, bumpy writer's road?

Or, like in my case, just say: 

"Never attempt a story in second person omniscient with multiple POVs and a sentient, singing goat... 

SERIOUSLY, PAST E.J., FOR THE LOVE OF BETA READERS EVERYWHERE, NEVER DO THAT! IF YOU DO, I'LL FUTURE-SLAP YOUR ASS BACK TO THE WOMB AND HOPE OUR EAR CANALS--AND SOME SELF-PRESERVATION INSTINCT--ACTUALLY DEVELOP THIS TIME!"

Just kidding, I've never tried that. (Although, the goat isn't a bad idea...) But I've certainly done my share of stupid things as I've crawled along one writing path after another. So naturally, the How I Found The Write Path blogfest was too good for me to pass up. 

Here's the mission:

Please write a letter/note to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. The only thing I ask is that you keep it under 800 words, including as many (or as few) of these elements as you like:

- A lesson you learned the hard way
- Something you didn’t expect about the industry (positive/negative)
- A writing-related resource you could never do without now
- One thing you’d change about your journey
- One thing you’re glad you did
- Your number one tip for pursuing publication
- Anything else you feel is worth passing on


The blogfest is the brain child of Carrie Butler & P.K. Hrezo, and they plan on compiling all of this wisdom into a free eBook resource for growing writers. 

Since this is for a good cause, AND it might actually see print, I'll try not to screw past me up too much. But I'm definitely going to give me a hard time, because I know I'll appreciate that. :)

HOW I FOUND THE WRITE PATH

TO: Past E.J. Wesley, Future author of the Moonsongs series

FROM: Future E.J. Wesley, Author of the Moonsongs series

CC: All of writerdom

Dear Past E.J.,

You're probably tripping out right now, but yes, you will actually publish something. Oh, and there'll be technology that will allow me to communicate with you and share wisdom and warnings from the future! 

Whatever you do, do NOT take the bus on April 24, 2004. You'll get the last seat, forcing another man to wait for the next bus. He's a scientist, and you just caused him to miss a very important meeting. Furious, he'll set off a chain of events eventually leading to the melting of the polar icecap and the end of the world! 

*waits for mind to explode and reassemble*

Calm down, I'm messing with you. 

God, were we really that uptight and gullible? 

I'm only here long enough to offer you a few words of writerly wisdom. Other than that, you're basically on your own. 

Well, not completely alone. You're going to bump into a lot of writers along the way to that first publication. They're determined, vulnerable, creative, fun--basically, they're everything you're going to need to be to reach your goals. 

These writing friends will carry you when you think you can't move forward, push you when you're too afraid to make the next jump, and be the first to cheer when you do cross the finish line. Get to know as many of them as you can, and always be willing to help them along in return.

You're just getting started. I know it's hard to see anything beyond the mountain you're staring up at, but there's karma involved in this writing business. The energy you put in, both positive and negative, always come back to you. So strive to be a force of positive energy in the writing community.

In fact, we'll call that one of Future E.J.'s writing proverbs. Let me share a few more with you:

  • You'll never be as talented of a writer as you want to be. That's a good thing.
  • Quit worrying and write.
  • Quit researching agents and write.
  • Quit blogging so much and write.
  • Quit eating so much red meat (seriously, you don't want to know what our cholesterol is going to look like at 32) and write.
(You're getting the idea by now--just write.)

  • Throw away word counts and tell the story.
  • Slow, fast, pantser, plotter--who cares, tell the story.
  • Finding your voice requires listening to feedback. 
  • Focus on what your critique partners are saying you're doing right instead of fretting over things you're doing wrong.
  • Fixing mistakes isn't nearly as important to your writing development as accentuating what you do well.
  • Using first person POV is a good way to let your personality shine through your writing. If you get stuck trying to write like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, give it a shot. (PRO TIP: You're never going to be J.K. Rowling or Stephen King ... also a good thing.)
  • Until you've identified what's right and wrong with a story, it--and you--will never be as good as they can be. So embrace feedback, don't fear it.
  • The real work of writing is in revisions. It's also the dividing line between authors and writers. You won't crossover until you learn to put just as much (or more) effort into perfecting the story as you did creating it.
  • Stories aren't babies. They don't come out of your brain fully developed and beautiful, and you aren't obligated to love them just as they are. 
  • If you insist on calling a story your baby, then be a cruel parent. Judge them harshly, discipline them regularly, and never let them cut corners.
  • The first thing you write that makes you wonder if others will think you're insane, evil, or suicidal for coming up with will likely be the best thing you've written. Do it again and again.
  • If your rational brain thinks something you've written is funny, sexy, scary, or intense you're likely not going deep enough. When you start coming up with things you couldn't even imagine, you're onto something.
  • Nothing is a waste of your time so long as you turn it into fuel for your writing. And in writing, everything can be used for fuel.
  • Writer's block is just another expression for procrastination. Simply choose not to do it. 
(And--you guessed it--keep writing.)
  • The only truly unworthy story is the one that goes unwritten. So write them all. Once the words are out of your head, you've succeeded in furthering your craft and ability if nothing else.
  • A writing career isn't what you think it is. It's better. All of the limitations you think you have, all of the barriers you imagine in front of you, and all of the failures you believe you've had will be stepping stones on a journey to always greater things. You'll only fail if you quit going.
Well, that should be enough to get you started. There are plenty of non-writing lessons you'll learn along the way, like understanding that nothing in the publishing industry is certain. And to never trust anyone who says there's only one way to do something. 

Those things, however, are always secondary to the writing. The words must always come first, and so long as you remember that you're going to be very proud of me ... I mean you. Us. We? Oh hell, just keep writing.

Sincerely, 

Future E.J.

---------

Credit:

E.J. Wesley, author of the Moonsongs series
http://www.ejwesley.com

"I give permission for my entry to be included in the e-book compilation without royalties and/or separate compensation."

-----------

ONE NON-BLOGFEST THING OF NOTE: We're having Susan K. Quinn on New Adult Lit Chat tonight (Thursday, 9 PM E) if you'd care to listen in to what Sue has to say about jumpstarting your writing career, you can tune in here. Also, if you'd like to submit a question for Susan to answer on air, and enter for a chance to win a copy of her book 'The Indie Author Survival Guide' or a free consultation with her, fill out this form: 

19 comments:

  1. I like best what you said about never trusting anyone who says their way is the only way. Truth is, there's only our own private way that works for us, and it takes us a long time and a lot of writing to figure out what that is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Completely agree, Patricia! We all go about it in such different ways.

      Delete
  2. Wise words! Keep writing.
    Accentuating what you do well. That one really spoke to me. There are ways to tells stories that I will never master. I'll never be the one with the poetic prose - but that's all right. I'll focus on my own style and do that well.
    And you're right - beef will kill you, man!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely, Alex! It really is about mastering your own style, not someone else's.

      Delete
  3. Love this hop-- it's all advice I STILL need to tell myself. Great wisdom, especially the get down to biz and WRITE part!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a great point, Julie! I definitely tell myself these types of things every day. Probably worth saying that repetition and persistence are maybe the two most valuable tools on a writer's workbench. :)

      Delete
  4. I'd tell myself not to be such a fool as to write more than one novel at a time. Even the pathetic excuse that as they're all different genres and thus no conflict, should have been enough to make me slap myself sharply about the ears with my enormous dot matrix printer for my pretentiousness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've met some folks who can work on multiple stories at a time, Roger. I'm not one of them. But I think the lesson here is: Know your limitations. :)

      Delete
  5. Great advice, EJ. Stop messing around and just write. I know I tend get bogged down with 'should''s and lose sight of the need to simply put words on the page.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been seeing this theme playing around in several blogs, EJ! You give it a whole different angle! Very funny!

    ReplyDelete
  7. "CC: All of writerdom"
    LOL

    "Slow, fast, pantser, plotter--who cares, tell the story."
    Amen.

    "Throw away word counts and tell the story."
    Amen!

    Great post, EJ.
    If anyone could pull of a story with a singing goat, it'd be you. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Excellent words of wisdom, EJ!

    ReplyDelete
  9. So much great advice! And that's so true about not trusting people who say there's only one way to do something. Nothing good comes from restricting ourselves like that!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Maybe, in an alternate lifetime, our world really did end. O_O

    I loved the humor you added to your points, and I nodded a lot to the tone of "keep writing." Excellent advice, all of it!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Haha! I love the humor in your letter. All of your advice is perfect, especially "write". We all just have to keep writing no matter what. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This post raised a chuckle or two. In fact, you had me at the singing goat! Lots of great points, and all so very true, when I stop laughing enough to think about them!

    ReplyDelete
  13. P.S. I nominated you for the Liebster Award, E.J. I don't know how many blog followers you actually have, but I don't care because you're worthy of this award. :) If you want to accept it, you can find more info here: http://writewithfey.blogspot.com/2014/05/liebster-award.html

    Happy Memorial Day! :D

    ReplyDelete
  14. SUCH great advice!
    Ugh. I find myself saying over and over ... if we only knew then.

    Great post.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Heather

    ReplyDelete
  15. "When you start coming up with things you couldn't even imagine, you're onto something."

    ^ This one is my favorite! :) Thank you so much for participating, EJ!

    ReplyDelete

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky