Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Writer Survival Guide 101

I've been involved in the writing world for just over a solid year. There are a lot of things to learn about putting yourself and your work out in the world and some of those things are: patience, handling criticism, proper online etiquette (this is a HUGE one) and supporting others.

Let's start with Patience:
From what I've experienced, and what I'm told by others, you will always be waiting. Whether it's waiting to hear back from a query, a request, or a submission. Waiting is the name of the game, and in order to win, you must learn to be patient. Otherwise, you have a long and suffering road ahead.

Twitter stalking, or whatever else there is, will do you no good. Let's be honest with ourselves and say we've all done this. I learned the hard way when I thought an agent was talking about me, then of course all my friends agreed (because why wouldn't they?), and when I found out it wasn't about me––let's just say it wasn't fun. Tracking what agents do or say gets you absolutely nowhere. I know it's hard, but don't do it to yourself. It's not worth the stress and heartache, because eventually someone will say yes, and it may not be that agent you've been tracking like a hawk since you sent your query.

Be patient. Keep writing. Stay busy. And wait.

Oh, the sweet yet bitter taste of criticism. It's excruciating to have your work in the hands of someone you know and admire. Their feedback means a lot to you, but sometimes feedback isn't always positive. And that's okay. Everyone needs that harsh reality about they're writing, because how else do we learn? If all anyone ever tells you is the good things, how is that going to help? No first draft, not even the second, is going to be perfect. Maybe it's happened before, but it's very rare.

You have to remember that when people give you constructive criticism, they're only doing it to help you better yourself and your writing. This is why it's so important to have betas/critique partners you trust. Yes, it is hard to find a trustworthy partner. Here's why: sometimes you'll find someone who's out only for themselves. It's a harsh truth, but true nonetheless. Choose wisely and get to know them. It's extremely important.

I've received quite a few hardcore feedbacks since I've been writing, and let me tell you, my writing has changed significantly. I'm thankful for those who were honest with me, as opposed to telling me what I wanted to hear.

Overall, take a deep breath and don't assume the worst. You are an amazing writer and just because someone gives you a few not-so-fun critiques, take it and run with it. LEARN from it. That's the best thing to do, and your writing will thank you for it.

Online Etiquette:
Oh, dear. This is something that shouldn't have to be said, but as there's a whole lot of hoopla going on, I guess it does. DO NOT put anyone down or mistreat fellow writers/publishers/editors/agents through social networks, or ever. It's obvious, right? Everyone can see everything said on Twitter. That's the whole point.

Twitter is not your personal punching bag. Going around harassing people and being downright rude isn't going to get you anywhere. As a matter of fact, the publishing/writing world is so small online––since everyone knows everyone––this is the worst move you could make. You're setting yourself up to be the bad guy, and nobody likes a bad guy, unless it's a well-written antagonist. Save your angst for your writing!

Now, no one can tell you what to do or say online. That is your own business. Please, feel free to rant all you want. Who am I to tell you otherwise? But if you plan to have a presence in the writing world, I'd suggest against it. Twitter is for getting to know other people in the industry, not just making contacts, but making friends. I can honestly tell you that every single person I talk to online is considered my friend. If I see them in real life, I am positive we'll talk just like we do online––like old friends. And that's why I love social networks. It makes me feel apart of something amazing.

Don't take all of this for granted. Be kind. Be supportive.

And that leads us to the last topic.

It's not a competition, guys. We are all out there doing the same thing––telling our stories and sharing it with the world. It's not an easy thing to do, but that's why we need to support each other. Getting an agent and getting published involves a lot of time and hard work. We all need each other to get through the hard times, and especially to celebrate the good.

If you're first to get an agent out of your group, don't forget what it was like in the trenches. Remember what your peers did for you as you battled through the long waits and heart wrenching rejections. Just because you've reached the top, doesn't mean you've outgrown them. It means this is your chance to show them how you succeeded and how they can do the same. Be there, not just for your friends, but for everyone. Whether someone sold their book to a Big Six, or has their newly published book hitting the shelves––support them. It doesn't matter if they're ahead of the game. One of these days, you'll be there too, and you'll want all the love and support you can get. It's what keeps us going. It's what keeps us from falling into a hole of anxiety and frustration.

Everyone needs a positive reminder of why they're doing what they're doing; whether you're just starting out or your book is climbing up the NYT Best Seller's list.

Always remember this: We are all in this together.


  1. This is what I love most about the writing community. It seems that most people who make it to the top don't forget just how hard it was to get there. Most of them remember there's plenty of room up there for others, too. And it's a lot more fun to hang out at the top when all your friends can join you there.

    There is more support and encouragement in writing than I have ever experienced anywhere else in my life. It's fantastic! Even the criticism is usually encouraging and helpful!

    *happy to support the free house elf initiative through sock donations*

  2. Heh! There's something to be said for keeping a relatively low profile when it comes to online hijinx. I prefer to plug up my ears and sing "lalalala" while ignoring it all. Or hand out rubber duckies. Because who doesn't love rubber duckies?

    At the very least, it distracts me from the waiting. ;-p


With each comment, I will donate a sock to free a house elf.