As a writer of over 28 years, I have learned a lot of things.
1. “A good story is in the mind’s eye of the reader.” In other words, what one person finds to be the best written piece ever will be the bane of the next person’s existence.
2. When it comes to being a writer, I can guarantee two things will always happen. First, for everything that you write, there will be at least one person out there who will absolutely LOVE it. And for everything you write, there will be at least one person out there who will absolutely LOATH it.
3. Criticism will not kill you, but it might not necessarily make you a better writer either. (see #1)
4. There is only ONE thing that will ever make you a better writer. And that is lots. And lots. And lots. Of practice. All the How-To books in the world will not help make you a better writer. Only you can do that by practicing the craft. A LOT.
5. Editors and publishers only have ONE bottom line, and yours is not it. They are the ones who make all the wild guesses as to what may or may not “hit it big” this season and choose storylines accordingly. If yours does not fit into their predetermined mold, then look for the giant red “REJECTED” stamp. If they think it might can be salvaged by rewriting the entire thing, then look for the finished product to not remotely resemble the manuscript that you submitted. They are only interested in making themselves money. If that means stomping all over your creativity and pulling a fast one, then that is what they are going to do.
6. No one knows how to write your own storylines better than you. Sometimes, however, rewording it can greatly increase the impact or help clear up some discrepancies or clarify some scenes for the readers.
7. You do NOT have to take criticism to heart. If someone thinks a certain section would sound better written another way, then humor him/her and rewrite it with the suggestions. Now compare the two. Use the one that YOU feel sounds the best.
8. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Writing is hard work and no matter how long you have been practicing the art, you will come to certain sections of a storyline that will be more difficult to write than others. But that’s fine, because if it were easy and everyone was good at it, we would have a lot more fantastic literature sitting around on our shelves.
9. When it stops being “fun” and becomes “work” then your career just turned into a job. Writing is mostly a labor of love. But if you do not absolutely love writing, then it is going to show in your stories.
10. You gave 110%. Now you have to give 100% more. It has been said that talent is 1/10th inspiration and 9/10ths perspiration. Proofreading, editing, and formatting is that other 100% or 9/10ths perspiration they are talking about. It’s often harder than the original penning of the storyline and usually takes just as long or longer. But if you want your writing to stand out for all the right reasons, then putting forth this extra effort is a must.
11. I came. I saw. I conquered. And I make no apologies. If, at the end of the day, you feel that you have written the absolute best that you possibly could, then take all of the criticism with a grain of salt. Grammatical and punctuation errors can be corrected and should be. But when it comes to the creativity that is involved with fictional writing, then no one is a better judge of how the story should be written than the one who created it in the first place.