Newbie. Fresh. Green. Yep, that’s me. At least in terms of seriously writing, I am a newbie. Right now I am 33k words into my first manuscript. But I have always loved writing; I was a philosophy minor in college. (You cannot succeed in philosophy without having the love of the written word. Trust me.) My first college scholarship was won in middle school from an essay I wrote and I was encouraged by my teachers to write more. I even published some poetry in a anthology the same year. I really considered that a phase of mine, which I discarded, until about 15 years later. Back in February, I was afforded the opportunity to rethink my career path, so I gave it some serious thought. I came to the conclusion that I would be the most happy, and perhaps successful, being a fiction writer. It would combine my myriad of other interests-history, philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, science, etc.- that I could never choose between in college. Perfect, right?
No, well sort of. I thought I knew everything I needed to in order to write a great novel. (I suppose I always think I know everything until I realize I don’t; my husband will agree.) The good thing is that I love to learn and I’m passionate about anything I decide to do. If I didn’t I would not have learned so much in these past seven months. That’s the first piece of advice, among others, I will offer to other newbie writers here:
- Be open to learning. You don’t know it all. Take the time to read books about story elements, such as character dimensionality, premise, conflict, etc. I found there is so much I did not learn in school that is key to writing a solid story.
- Get a critique partner. Find someone to critique your work. You are not perfect and you need help. Enough said: You can read more about that here.
- Join a local writer’s group. Not only can you benefit from other bodies of knowledge , but the energy you can receive from being and chatting with other writers is impressive and motivating. It can get you out of a funk of confusion and writers block then on the path to writing well.
- Set goals. Treat your craft seriously. There isn’t much gray area here. If you do not set some sort of objectives for your writing, you might be sitting with nothing but a lot of wasted time and dashed dreams ten years down the road. Whenever I don’t set goals for myself, I waste ample amounts of time on Facebook, Twitter, etc. doing a whole lot of nothing. They can be small, large, word counts, or abstract. They can change as you evolve in your work. Any way, you need them. So go get them!
- Enough researching. There, I said it. Stop research and start writing. I researched, full time, for months before I actually started to write. Yes, so far, a lot of it has been relevant, but probably way too much of it was a waste of my time. Start writing your story, and where you feel you need to research, make a note of it and do it during your greater writing process. There is too much rewriting you will end up doing for you to spend precious time on pieces of research you may or may not need down the road.
If you want to connect with me, Samantha Khan, and share your thoughts and experiences, comment below or follow me on Twitter @AuthorKhan and/or Facebook. And don’t forget to follow the Writing Wenches on Twitter @WritingWenches.