7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Danica Davidson

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Danica Davidson) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

 


Danica Davidson has been interviewed by the
Los Angeles Times and Writing It Real about her
novel writing. She is currently seeking to publish
a YA novel. As a professional freelancer, she’s
sold articles to more than thirty magazines.
Please visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

1. We have control over our own thoughts, so it’s important to be positive. This is easier said than done, and I’ll be the first to admit it. But as a writer, you’re bound to get lots of rejections, and it’s so easy to take these personally and believe people are telling you you’re not good. Keeping your head on your shoulders makes all the difference here. I’ve gotten plenty of rejections, the most being when I started out as a writer. When I was in high school, something happened where I had to start earning my own money and I worked three part-time jobs while doing independent study to get my diploma. In the midst of this, I was sending out stories daily to magazines, and the majority of them came back with rejection letters. Most people my age didn’t have to deal with what I did, but I made myself stay strong and I kept submitting. Some acceptance letters began to come back and they continued to increase. Now I’ve sold articles to more than thirty magazines, and my next goal is publishing my YA novel.

2. Success isn’t only about talent. It’s also about hard work. A few people make it into the business and have it look easy, but most of us have to stretch ourselves. It’d be great if all writers needed was talent, but in the business of publishing, it requires more to make yourself stand out. Along with my freelance and novel writing, I do what I can to hustle and get my name out there.

3. If you want to be a professional, writing needs to be more than a hobby. I don’t think writing has ever been a hobby for me—I began “writing” at the age of three, and by that I mean I dictated stories to adults kind enough to jot them down for me. I have boxes full of my early stories. Around the age of seven I decided I wanted to be a novelist and made my first attempt with writing a book called White Beauty. Let’s just say it taught me what not to do (and it will never see the light of day), but it was a start for my love of novels. By the time I was in middle school, I was writing novels regularly and got featured in the Los Angeles Times because of it. Writing for me is more than a hobby—it’s who I am—and because of that, I can’t let it go.

4. Giving up is not an option. If you’re serious about being a writer, you have to keep going. If I had let a few rejections stop me, I would have betrayed myself and my dreams. There are always more options and new ways to try things.

5. Sometimes we have to do other work, too. I’d love to spend all my time writing my novels, but, realistically, I need to make money. That’s why I do my freelancing. I write one to seven articles a day, all of which go on to be published. I’ve written for such places as Booklist, Ms. and Publishers Weekly, so I’m grateful to have some good names on my résumé. I have also written the English version of Japanese books published in America. I was given the literal translation and rewrote it so that it read like conversational English. These books—Millennium Prime Minister and its sequel—are available in bookstores.

6. Know what you want. I’ve known since a young age that I want to be a professional writer, specifically a professional novelist. I’ve done—and continue doing—what I can to make this happen.

7. Love what you do.
This is so important in life. I love to write the way I love nothing else. Every day I write and I discover new things about myself. I will keep doing what I can to make my dreams come true.

 


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6 thoughts on “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Danica Davidson

  1. Judith van Praag

    Dear Danica,
    You clearly have what it takes to be a professional writer. "I write one to seven articles a day, all of which go on to be published." That, is awesome. Whatever it was that made you have to start earning money while in High School has also given you the drive to make the best of your time. I can’t but salute such an attitude. Good luck to you with all of your writing projects and especially with that YA novel you’re looking to get published.
    All the best in the New Year!
    Judith

  2. D. Gephart

    Danica,

    Awesome list! You certainly have that hard work thing down. I’m quite impressed.

    I won’t be surprised to hear that you sell your novel . . . and the next one . . . and the next.

    A book I found very helpful for structuring a novel is Story by Robert McKee.

    Good luck, Danica! And everyone who is working hard to fulfill his or her dreams.

    All best,
    Donna

  3. Tania

    Danica, came your way via She Writes. Thanks for the positive, constructive reminders, especially about needing to do other work to fund the writing. I see all of the branches of my life (mothering, editing, teaching, consulting) as supplementing that raw writing time I love so much. I hadn’t thought before either about smoothing out a book from someone else’s rougher translation as a means to earn income. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Cara Lopez Lee

    Your lifestyle and the reasons you live that way mirror my own quite closely. I spend more time writing and editing client books than writing articles, but the purpose is the same. Sometimes when I’m not working directly on my next book, I can get frustrated. Then I ask myself, "Does what you’re doing now ultimately serve the purpose of allowing you to work on your book?" If the answer is yes, then I know I’m still on the write track. The beautiful thing is that we get to write for a living. Even Michelangelo had to do commissioned work. We’re not only pursuing our dreams, we’re living them.

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