I’m an author. I create stories that are inspired, gifted, and brilliant, with characters who overcome challenges that no normal human could face, yet they do it with such grace and dignity that they will change the lives of all those who dare to read and process the amazing-ness that is my novel.
But you can’t read my novel because I haven’t written it yet, actually.
I haven’t queried to an agent or editor.
I have never read anything on the process of crafting a well-written story, because I don’t need to. I’m good like that.
I don’t care for critical comments about my writing. My stories are perfect the way they are.
It doesn’t matter what my query letter says, my novel is what’s important.
I’ll just self-publish so that I can avoid anyone who might want me to make changes to my work.
I am a wannabe writer.
I suffered from wannabe writer-itis myself. Even though I had actually written more than one complete novel, even though I had taken the leap to establish representation, even though I had let several people read my novels and give me feedback, I was severely lacking in one area.
I had never read anything on the writing process.
I thought my stories were great. I thought they were inspired. Especially the first novel I ever wrote– a historical romance set in 1820s England. Oh, how I love those characters I created!
But then I started getting feedback on it from people in the writing biz. And I’m thinking, “no…no…how can they not like it? It’s fabulous!”
My critique partner (God brought her to me specifically to help me grow in my writing and to be like, the soul-sister I never knew I had) gave me some feedback. And it was horrible, rip my heart out, this-story-needs-tons-of-work kind of feedback. But it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
And so, out of humility, because I know I need to constantly be growing and learning if I’m going to succeed as a writer, I picked up several books at the library on the writing process and ordered a few more from Amazon.
Keep in mind that I am a history major with a master’s in education, and the only writing course I took in college was my freshman year. My professor had his own theories on writing and had written his own textbook, which of course, he required each one of us to purchase. The only thing I remember from his course is that he would walk around the room and throw around the phrase, “damn zippy.” Yeah, I didn’t glean a whole lot of info from him.
So with pen in hand, I started reading through the library books and taking notes. (I felt like I was in college again, but I love being a nerd like that.)
At first I was excited. “Yes! Yes!” I’m thinking as I was reading. I realized that I am doing many things correctly as a writer! Then I got to the “Things You Should Never Do” in a romance, and my stomach dropped as I read the list. In my beloved first manuscript, I had made Every.Single.One. of the mistakes an author should never make. From the characters to the plot, I realized that my first manuscript, the one that inspired me to become a writer in the first place, was complete drivel.
For two seconds I considered throwing in the towel. I almost succombed to the worst of the wannabe writer-itis symptoms– discouragement.
And then I paused and asked myself a question. Do I want to be a writer?
And the answer is YES.
If you are suffering from wannabe writer-itis, here are a few tips for curing your condition:
1. Own it. As my wise and encouraging friend Colleen once said, “you aren’t trying to be a writer, you are a writer.” Now be one.
2. Read books on the writing process. Yes, God can inspire our words and ideas, but we need to learn how to convey those words and ideas correctly into a sell-able novel that will reach others. Learning the craft will help you take the inspired words and ideas and turn them into a book that makes sense and conveys the messages and themes you intend for it to convey. Our brilliant and inspired stories don’t do any good if no one will ever have a chance to read them.
3. Join a writer’s organization. Whether it’s a local group or a national one, being involved in a writer’s organization will put you in contact with people who know the world of writing and publishing. It will help you network and make connections that could eventually lead to publishing, if that’s your desire.
4. READ. Read books by authors in the genre in which you would like to write. The more you read, the more familiar you’ll be come with the genre. Don’t attempt to write in a genre you’ve never read.
5. Attend a writer’s conference. I will be attending my first one this year, ACFW. (American Christian Fiction Writers). The wealth of information that will be offered in the classes is overwhelming.
6. Write. Complete a manuscript. I put this one last on purpose, because it’s actually the last thing you should do. Most people think that this is the first thing that a writer should do, but if you want to write something that’s not “drivel,” I suggest you work on the other steps first.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some serious rewrites on one of my manuscripts. I hope that when I’m finished it will no longer resemble “drivel,” and instead will be a readable piece of work that will inspire others.
Share with me: What do you think is the most difficult part of the writing biz?