7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Suzanne Hayes

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Suzanne Hayes) 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.



Suzanne Hayes is a sociologist by profession.
Her essays have been published in Full of Crow
magazine’s On the Wing edition, as well as an
upcoming publication in the May/June issue of
Life Learning Magazine. She lives by the ocean
with her husband and three daughters. Suzanne
is represented by Anne Bohner or Pen and Ink
Literary. See her blog here. She also tweets.


1. All that advice that’s everywhere and every published author reiterates? DO IT. No whining. Really. I learned that everyone in the business agrees on the basics and that no one really gets away with cheating. This is a slow process. And, by the way, my first two manuscripts are under my bed. Try telling me that one when I was starting out!

2. If you have a family, even a supportive one, they will tire of your writing. When I’m writing, everything around me fades to black. I am in the story. Now, I’ve learned to write when my kids are asleep or away so that I don’t say “Yes” to things like candy for breakfast and bike riding in snow storms.

3. If you are a parent, your child’s teacher may want to strangle you. Really. Because besides number 2 above, I can’t remember to sign anything, send anything to school or even to dress my kids in Green when it’s Greenday (wasn’t that a band???).

4. Other writers want to help you—so ask them for help!
Right now I have an e-mail from a famous my inbox. In my INBOX. Two actually. Ahem.

5. Don’t give up. I didn’t even consider this … but I’ve seen other writers I started out with either go the way of vanity publishing or simply vanish into the netherworld of nothing. (That’s my way of saying they closed their blogs and deactivated their e-mail accounts.) Why? I’ve learned that it’s much easier to persist. I’ve also learned I’m stubborn.

6. Learning to accept criticism is the key to getting published. Good or bad. Constructive or mean. If you want to be a published author, you must learn to take what any one has to say with grace and dignity.  I’ve watched too many of my friends get all worked up about this. Your story is for the world, not you. If you don’t want anyone to say anything that isn’t wonderful (or even constructive) about your work, keep a journal … in a safe deposit box.

7. Create an online presence. This one may be obvious. I learned too late to create an online presence. It took me a year to figure out I needed to blog and tweet and Facebook. I still don’t love it. (Well, OK … I do love my blog), but we all have to network.


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Check out Les Edgerton’s guide, HOOKED, to
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


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