I recently read an article discussing several things writers shouldn’t do. The information was good, but it left me wondering how many of the don’ts I had done over the years. At the orientation of my first writers conference, I sat in the audience and wrote down all the dos and don’ts for navigating the conference. By the end of the day, I had completed all the don’ts. Not intentionally, but I had. As a rule follower, I was crushed by all the mistakes I’d made.
My heart raced, my head spun, and memories of that first conference returned as I read the article on my computer screen. Am I making the same mistakes? How many of the don’ts am I still doing?
I know I respond better to do rather than don’t. So instead of telling you things you shouldn’t do as a writer, let me give you a list of ten dos.
1. Discover your writing voice. You don’t need to find it, but you do need to discover it, and the only way to do this is to write. We all have favorite authors, but they have their own unique voices. Enjoy theirs but discover yours.
2. Do use social media. There are so many social media avenues, but learning and applying what’s out there is key to being successful.
3. Work on your next project while you’re pitching your current one. A writer keeps writing! Enough said.
4. Be open to critiques. Most people reviewing your work want to help you make it better. Value the fact others are willing to invest their time to give you feedback. As the author you have the final say, but a good critique can take your writing to the next level.
5. Continue to learn the craft. Sharpen your skills by going to writing conferences, attending workshops, reading books, and/or being a part of a writers group. Writers should be lifelong learners.
6. Celebrate the success of other writers. Sometimes it’s hard when we see the accomplishments of someone who started writing when we did or even after. Remember your writing path is different from theirs so celebrate with them. One day they may celebrate with you.
7. Take time to enjoy life. Go outside, get away from your computer to refresh your mind. Writing should be a part of your life, not consume all of it. Enjoy life away from your computer by doing something that gives you life outside of writing.
8. Be nice. People in the publishing industry remember if you’re not. Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” All three are true in publishing. People remember what you did, what you said, and how you made them feel, so remember to be nice and professional.
9. Realize writing is hard work. If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you know this is true. Writing is a long-distance race. Understanding this early on will encourage you not to quit.
10. Stay open to what God is doing. If God has called you to write, He knows where he wants to take you. Maybe you thought you were a fiction writer and God has you writing non-fiction or the other way around. God can do some amazing things when we trust the direction He takes our writing.
At that first conference, I don’t remember what I did right. And that’s okay, but now I love looking at the possibilities of what I can do as I continue my writing journey. How about you?