On pretty much every author’s website you’ll find the “Advice for Writers” page. I am still new to the game, my first novel is on its way to digital devices in March of 2015, so I’ll share my experience on the path to publication.
I started writing Restoration one lazy Saturday morning. The premise popped into my head and I couldn’t let it go until I had it down on paper (or in a word document). My kids were playing with their daddy and I sat at the couch with my old dinosaur of a laptop. For the first few chapters I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I didn’t plot, I didn’t plan, I just put everything my little heart desired on the paper. It wasn’t until I was a good 1/3 of the way through that I got serious. I realized, “Hey, I think this could really be something.” and I made some great connections. I started meeting up with a good friend who was farther along in the game, she’d been sending out queries and working on other novels. Basically, she was, and still is, my guide through the muddy water that is publishing.
I remember days when I wrote as long as I possibly could, forsaking my husband and kids for a few more minutes with my characters. These days will still happen I am sure, and I will still feel the same amount of guilt after. During the process of writing my first draft, my little family of four made an international move from Washington state to Japan. All the while I was writing, finishing my Bachelor’s, and up until we left, working full time. As soon as we got settled in a house I set to work, determined to finish this book. My biggest problem was organization. I couldn’t keep my scenes and chapters easily accessible. I finally upgraded my computer (am now a Mac fan big time) and got Scrivener. My world changed after that. Scrivener helped me organize and actually plot my book. I wrote until I finished the first draft. Then I cried a little. A few days later I revised, thought it was ready (I was wrong), and got over eager to start submitting. A few impersonal rejections later, I decided it wasn’t them being narrow-minded and short-sighted, it was me. I sent my book to some BETA readers, asking for various things from opinions to critiques. That was where my world changed and I learned the most.
A good critique partner is a special thing. Someone who will be open, honest, and constructive. I’m lucky because I found that right out of the gate. After completely revamping the first three chapters of my book I ended up with four requests for my full MS as well as two contract offers. I’m hard at work on my second novel as I wait for the first round of edits to begin.
So my advice for writers: If you have a story to tell, if you are passionate about it, then put it on paper. Write it until you get it all out. Revise it until it is polished. Love it before you submit it.