Dariel's Lists: 10 More Things I've Learned About Writing

Ask any writer, published or not quite yet, and you’ll get the same response – “If only I’d known then what I know now.” Of course, I suppose that could be said about life in general, but that’s another post or two, or maybe ten! For today, I’ll talk about ten things I’ve learned since I started writing “professionally.” Yes, I know what you’re thinking – “Is it called a profession when you barely make enough each month to pay the power bill? Ahem! Hold your horses - that’s one of the items on my list.

I started writing at a very young age, seven or eight, always writing stories and drawing paper dolls to go with them, but didn’t consider publishing anything until much later. I’ve learned a whole lot more than ten things, but that’s mostly because by the time I decided to actually try to sell some of my stories, I knew almost nothing about the industry. I was working as a school counselor (I know – original, a school counselor writing romance. Put a stop to the sarcastic comments and thoughts for a moment and read on).

As I was saying, I was working as a school counselor nine months a year, and worked as a college counselor and tutor two months every summer when a friend presented me with entry information for a short story competition. I took that summer off and started writing. I didn’t win or even place in that contest, but by the time I finished my story, the writing bug had me under its spell, and eventually, I won. So, I posted ten things on the Romance Troupe blog, and here are ten things more things I’ve learned about writing, the pros and cons, in no particular order…

1. You may be able to write in a bubble, but you cannot market in a bubble. Enough said? More on this later.

2. Friendships with other authors are essential to your success. Nurture and cherish them by touching base from time to time, and sharing information freely.

3. Set daily, weekly, and monthly writing goals and evaluate and revise them regularly. If you never seem to reach your daily goals, identify the time sucks and figure out ways to get them out of your way. If you're meant to write, it has to be a priority in your life. 

4. Learn to say “NO.” When it’s time to write, write. Okay, I confess - I've said this before, but it's SO important I had to repeat it for emphasis. Allow me to apologize right now for number five as well. Don’t allow others to distract you with phone calls or tedious chores simply because you “work from home.” Most of us have a regular daily eight to twelve hour gig before we even get the opportunity to write, so don’t allow anyone else to gobble up that hard earned time to pursue your dream. We’ll talk more about this one in number five.

5. Until writing becomes your bread and butter, schedule around it like a second job. For many of us, second jobs are like second nature, but life goes on. Plan time with friends and family, and teach family members to support you by helping as much as possible at home. Prepare two or three entrees at once on weekends. Things might not get done just the way you would prefer, but they’ll get done. You’ve got writing to do, and those fantastic stories will never get written if you’re climbing out of the dishwasher, washing machine, or pray tell, the oven! You simply can't be everywhere all the time, and like everyone else, your day only has 24 hours.

6. Writing, like music, dance, and...well, art, is an art form. In a nutshell, those of us who are driven to write are artists, and all artists are sensitive. We need strong support systems for a number of reasons, one of which is lifting us up when we're discouraged. Rejection is always lurking in a writer's life, and the ugly partner of rejection is insecurity. The best antidote for the two dream killers is good writing friends who not only understand what you're going through, but often offer advice to combat it and rock on.   

7. Now, you’ve destressed and you’re sitting down to write. You’ve also told your friends and family that unless they’re calling you to dinner or someone is bleeding out, you are not to be disturbed. Focus on getting the first draft completed. Tell your story freely, keeping in mind that you have the freedom to write as many drafts as necessary, picking and choosing just the right word here and there (later, after the first draft is done) until you’re ready to call in an objective expert – that is, an editor.

8. Let’s talk editors for a moment. You need one. Period. Check out my list of over forty editors just in case you're in the seeking phase.

9. Don't be disheartened if family and friends are not your greatest supporters. First of all, in many cases, they have no idea what the world of a writer is like, so they don't know what we're up against. Until you become a household name, your writing friends will share your ups and downs like no one else can. Of course, once you become famous, family and friends you never knew you had will come from everywhere. LOL 

10. Social media is your friend. A good book blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Triberr, and Hootsuite can help you spread the word about your books. Remember, you can not market in a bubble. .

These ten things more things have barely scratched the surface, but I'll post updates from time to time, so stay tuned here for future editions. There’s always more to learn, and someone willing to share – that’s one of my favorite things about the writing community. Tell me about some of the things you’ve learned since you started on this journey?