What writing advice would I give my younger self?
I was six-years-old when I was first published. No joke. My mom sent in a story I wrote about a princess and a witch to a local newspaper contest. I won for my age category, and had my story published. It was my first taste of glory. My little six-year-old heart didn’t truly appreciate it. I really wish I still had that newspaper.
When I was in sixth grade, I promised my teacher I would write a book someday. At thirty-years-old I finally fulfilled that promise. Don’t get me wrong. I had written lots of stories, songs, and poems for years and years before that. But my first full-length novel didn’t come until my youngest was out of diapers. I mean, who can handle poop and writing a synopsis at the same time? I sure couldn’t. I’m just kidding, I know lots of fantastic writers who have babies. (Lucy, for one!) And I’m in awe of them. Seriously folks, I was barely hanging on to my sanity when my littles were babies. I do not know how they do it. But they prove to me, it can be done.
I’m not exactly sure how far back I should go to tell my younger self some advice. I think if I tried to explain the world of publishing to my six-year-old self I would just get a blank stare and maybe some food thrown at my face. But my sixth grade self? I would tell her, “Write sooner. Write as much as you can. Don’t wait to write that book. It will never be a perfect time to write it, so just do it.”
And start with the ending. I hate, hate, hate writing endings. My entire childhood drawers were full of short stories that had no endings. I think that’s why I was always discouraged when it came to writing. I knew I had natural talent from God (at least I was told so) but I could never finish a stinking story. I would tell my younger self, write the ending that you envision first. You can always change it later, but at least you will have an end.
I would tell myself to watch less TV. To read less trashy stuff. To learn to focus and read faster. I would tell myself that you can do this. You can write a full length novel, and you don’t have to wait and wait and wait. Do it now.
I would tell myself, LEARN about English. Don’t hate on it. Embrace it. Pay attention in class and do it well. Reading tons of books will only get you so far, you still have so much you need to learn.
I would tell myself to learn the craft earlier on. To not let ‘the rules’ define you or stifle you, but to let your creative juices flow and implement the rules later. BUT LEARN THE RULES. Rules are not your enemy as much as your hippy-I-don’t-want-to-follow-no-stinking-rules heart wants to think.
You are not as good as you think you are. Step off your little pedestal. I repeat, step off. No, jump off. Get off the darn thing. You stink. You’re terrible. Just kidding. You’re not that bad. But you have TONS of room for improvement. Raw talent won’t get you far. You need to work hard. You need to learn. To grow. You need to humble yourself and listen to the experts.
They are the experts for a reason. Even if you don’t agree with them right away, just wait…you will.