What I’ve Learned So Far
Since I embarked on the novel idea of writing a novel (yes, there’s a smile in that obvious pun), I have learned the people you encounter day to day who are striving to do the same, are still willing to stop, and go the extra mile to help. You find them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. You find them by searching for those you want to know more about on Google and then reading interviews or their blogs, and you learn from them that way.
Writers from my view are a group of individuals who will open their arms wide to newcomers and newbies in general. The ones who are seasoned can probably spot “us” new ones just by our questions – but they don’t ever say or point out how amateurish it might be to ask whatever is burning our little newbie minds up – never once, not that I’ve seen.
I’ll start with some of the LinkedIn groups – I find the folks in the three groups I’m in to be chatty, forthcoming, and willing to share. They give sound advice and politely disagree only if they have to and only if they can back it up. Let’s face it – we’ve all learned to engage one another properly in social media sites (i.e. CAPS MEANS SHOUTING, so don’t do it, etc) but it goes beyond that. Ask a question and you’ll get responses, and fast. (nice!)
Then, there’s Twitter – what a unique experience! I’ve learned by reading and by observation about what not to do. I do have some rules (or guidelines maybe?) about how I interact out there. I only “tweet” what I call “tweet’able moments” (similar to “teachable moments) but maybe I don’t need to ‘splain that. Tweetable moments to me are thanking someone for following me. Then I follow them right back – but only if they are a writer, author, editor, publisher, agent…etc. (sorry to anyone following me I haven’t followed back – it’s probably for that reason) I steer clear of anything that remotely smells political, has a religious view, social view or basically – anything not related to writing. It’s a smart thing to do, trust me. I take this stance because the viewpoints I may have do not have a thing to do with my writing.
The other thing I’ve learned is from that age old saying – to give more than you receive. (You remember right?? It is better to give, than to receive…) I try to keep that mindset, which is how I decided on those “tweet’able moments.” If I find a link that I believe is worthy of sharing, then I’ll tweet it. or if one of the folks I’m following has advice they’ve landed on, I’ll re-tweet it.
Outside of Twitter what this also means is reaching out to other authors to let them know you enjoy their writing. I have reached out to a few and even if they’ve been published, they all love to get direct feedback. Truthfully now, we all know we like it when someone takes the time to read or look at our work and to comment. It takes time to do that, and I’ve seen it over and over how it is appreciated. I read somewhere that you should give 90% and only request (receive) about 10%. So that means to not just use social media to pump out stuff about your book, your this, or your that and then never reciprocate. It will make you seem demanding and sooner or later, people will ignore what you have to say.
The absolute, most important thing I’ve learned is to enjoy the process of writing. We all seem to be in an all fired, ramrod hurry to get to the end of the process of writing our books. But I have learned to savor it. Do you want to know how? By relishing those weeks after the editor has looked at it and given advice on where things are going wrong or right and then I get to make it better. I’ve found that’s my chance to polish it like the finest silver. It’s my way to feel confident I’ve done the best I can.
You have to enjoy this time to make your work better because you know what happens next? You will finish it and then you will find, like I have, that you miss your protaganist – a lot. You’ll think about the new book, you might even start the new book, but all along, you wait to see what will happen to your first protagonist. Will she (he) find a home and make her (his) way to a bookshelf? Only an agent knows, and that’s the final thing you learn, patience while allowing them to make their decision, and then the guts (if necessary) to move on.