7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Jaime Lee Moyer

2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, toss what doesn't work, and start again. Professionals throw away chunks of novels and stories all the time and start again. Not every story will work, not every plot will come together or every character come to life. None of the mistakes I made were a waste of time or effort, because each one of them taught me something that made the next story better. The same is true of query letters. If the one you've written doesn't get you requests, start over. GIVEAWAY: Jaime is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.)
Author:
Publish date:

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Jaime Lee Moyer, author of DELIA'S SHADOW) 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.

GIVEAWAY: Jaime is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.)

color crop of me
delias-shadow-novel-cover

Jaime Lee Moyer lives in San Antonio with musician Marshall Payne, two cats,
three guitars and a growing collection of books and music. Her first novel,
DELIA'S SHADOW (Sept. 2013), is out now from Tor Books. Two other books
in the series, A BARRICADE IN HELL, and AGAINST A BRIGHTENING SKY,
will be published in June 2014 and February 2015, respectively. Her novels are
represented by Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary. Connect with her on Twitter

1. No one else can teach you how to write. Writing wasn't something I could learn from a how to write book or by hitting all the steps in a how to video. The only way for me to learn was to write and keep writing. I didn't wake up one morning writing stunning, professional prose or perfect plots (no one does). Like all crafts, being a writer takes practice. I wrote all I could in any scrap of time I could find, then I wrote more.

2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, toss what doesn't work, and start again. Professionals throw away chunks of novels and stories all the time and start again. Not every story will work, not every plot will come together or every character come to life. None of the mistakes I made were a waste of time or effort, because each one of them taught me something that made the next story better. The same is true of query letters. If the one you've written doesn't get you requests, start over.

(Writer's Digest asked literary agents for their best pieces of advice. Here are their responses.)

3. The more I learn about writing, the more I find I don't know. One skill builds on another and new skills strengthen things I've already learned. It's not as if I can learn it all and stop, it's a process that will continue my entire life.

4. Writing is not for the timid or faint of heart. I can't flinch or pull back because writing something is "hard" or painful, and take the easy way around. If anything, that means I have to write what's making me flinch and give it my all. The difficult and the painful bits of a story are what make it real. And I can't be afraid of what others will think about what I write, or that a reader might equate a character's thoughts and actions with mine.

5. Don't fall into the trap of thinking every word you write is perfect and untouchable. Really, they aren't. Too much praise is as dangerous for a writer as too much harsh criticism. Beta readers who point out what you do right, as well as what needs to be fixed, are a writer's best friend. The flip side of this is learning to trust your instincts. If you know down in your bones that something is right for your story, and absolutely needs to be there, stick to your guns. The two things aren't mutually exclusive.

(What does that one word mean? Read definitions of unique & unusual literary words.)

6. If you can't figure out what's wrong with a story, put it away for a few months. Or longer. Write more stories while this one sits in a drawer. This is a luxury writers who aren't writing to deadline should take full advantage of. That constant learning curve might have taught you what's wrong and how to fix it when you pull it out again. Or you may recognize that the story is still and will always be a hopeless mess. Either way, you win.

7. The only way to really and truly fail as a writer is to stop trying. I believe that with all my heart.

GIVEAWAY: Jaime is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.)

Image placeholder title

Need help crafting an awesome plot for your
story? Check out the new acclaimed resource
by Ronald Tobias, 20 Master Plots.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Image placeholder title

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 11

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a prime number poem.

Stephanie Dray: On Writing Women's Legacies

Stephanie Dray: On Writing Women's Legacies

Bestselling and award-winning author Stephanie Dray shares how she selects the historical figures that she features in her novels and how she came to see the whole of her character's legacies.

From Script

Taking Note of the Structure of WandaVision and Breaking in Outside of Hollywood (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from ScriptMag.com, learn about the storytelling techniques used in the nine-part Disney+ series "WandaVision," outlining tips for writing a horror script, and breaking in outside of Hollywood as a writer and filmmaker.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 10

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a get blank poem.

take two 3 mistakes writers make in act i

Take Two: 3 Mistakes Writers Make in Act I

Without a solid foundation, our stories flounder. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares insights into the three mistakes writers make when creating the first act.

David Jackson Ambrose: On Balancing Magic and Practicality

David Jackson Ambrose: On Balancing Magic and Practicality

Novelist David Jackson Ambrose discusses the initial themes he wanted to explore in his latest novel, A Blind Eye, what the editing process was like, and how his books always surprise him in the end.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Knowing When to Shelve a Project

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Knowing When to Shelve a Project

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not knowing when to shelve a project.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 9

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a persona poem (for an inanimate object).

4 Tips for Writing Engaging Frenemies

4 Tips for Writing Engaging Frenemies

No matter what genre you write, if you're planning to write characters as frenemies, you'll need to know how to do it well. Bestselling romance author Lorraine Heath shares her top tips.