What Not to Do as a Newbie Writer

What not to do as a beginning writer.

by Angela Ruth Strong @AngelaRStrong

Every writer has to
start somewhere, though some seem to have their careers take off a lot sooner
than others. I’d be in the “others” category as I attended my first writing
conference in 2006 and you probably still haven’t heard of me. (I’ve been
called Ruth by editors and occasionally get an, “Oh, you’re that Angela.”) So,
in the name of humility, I thought I’d share some mistakes I’ve made along the
way to help you achieve success in a more timely manner.

1. Don’t think you are going to
write every genre you enjoy reading
. If you want to write, you probably enjoy reading, and you
probably read a lot of genres. But there are reasons you should not try to
write it all.
First, if you want to be a really good writer in any genre,
it will take more time to study and perfect your craft. If you are jumping
around from genre to genre, you will never have the time needed to reach your
full potential.
Second, it will be frustrating to try to figure out the guidelines
for each genre. For example, once I tried to help Jill Williamson world build
for her fantasy novels once. She would nod and say encouraging things like,
“I’ve…uh…never thought if it that way before.” She kindly didn’t tell me my
ideas would never work as I didn’t know what the heck I was talking about.
Third, readers want to know what to expect from you. Your
name becomes your promise. If you like Amish stories, and you pick up a Beverly
Lewis book, you’re going to be a little disappointed if it’s all about zombies.
Me and my middle grade novels, women’s fiction, romance, and suspense stories
are learning this the hard way.
2. Don’t defend your writing when
critiques come in.
My
very first novel had a revision request from my first conference in 2006. I
didn’t make the changes my agent suggested. The editor did not buy that
manuscript. Then I found this handy little four-step plan that was designed for
victims, which I’ve shamelessly adapted to use when I feel like the victim of
reviews I didn’t want.
  • Step one: Accept it. Maybe the reader didn’t get it. Or
    maybe they didn’t like it. Or they thought your whole ending needed to change.
    It is what it is.
  • Step two: Own it. Whatever the reader “misunderstood,”
    you’re the only one who can make them understand. It’s your story.
  • Step three: Make a plan. Sometimes a small tweak makes a
    huge difference, so don’t let this step overwhelm you. Figure out what you can
    do to make your story better. Because it can always be better.
  • Step four: Move on. Do what needs to be done, then move on
    to your next manuscript. Maybe your first story will be good enough to get
    picked up for a Hallmark movie, or maybe it will be years later when you
    realize what you were doing wrong in the first place. The point is, you didn’t
    let a little negative feedback keep you from growing as an author.

Don’t prioritize writing over relationships.
3. Don’t prioritize writing over
relationships.
When
going to my first conference a decade ago, I went through the conference packet
and decided which agent and editor to pitch. It was my whole plan.  Those pitches didn’t go as I’d hoped, and I
felt like a failure.
But then something wonderful happened. I made friends. One
of those friends became my editor. Another friend lent me her vacation home in
Park City, Utah earlier this year so I could stay there and research for an
upcoming novel. Another friend and I just swapped manuscripts for critique
because we write for the same publishing house.
I got so much out of these friendships that I came home to
Idaho and started my own writing group. We were all nobodies at the time (even
nobodier than I am now), but since then we’ve gotten contracts and won awards
and published novella collections together.
Writing wouldn’t be the same without my writing friends. I wouldn’t be the same without my writing
friends. And no matter how successful my writing may or may not become, I’m
thankful for these experiences that have become lessons in my own life story.
TWEETABLE
Bright Star Ranch led him to her–but will he
stay?
Josh Lake is forced to head home for the holidays after he’s
suspended from his job in the city, but running into Paisley Sheridan could be
exactly what he needed. Not only does she board him at her ranch in exchange
for his advertising expertise, but spending the Christmas season with her in
Big Sky, Montana, brings more joy than he’s felt in a long while. Is he willing
to give up the lavish lifestyle he’s worked for in exchange for the gift of
love?
The last thing Paisley wants for Christmas is to spend time
with Josh Lake—the guy who broke her heart in high school—but until her bank
loan goes through, she has to take all the free help she can get.
Unfortunately, Josh seems to want back in her life again, and the town’s quirky
coffee shop owners don’t help by hanging mistletoe at every opportunity. Will
Paisley succeed in driving him away, or will she find the healing needed to
have hope for a future together?
Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and published her first novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2010. With movie producers interested in her book, she’s decided to rerelease it and write sequels as a new series titled Resort to Love. This Idaho Top Author and Cascade Award winner also started IDAhope Writers to encourage other aspiring authors, and she’s excited to announce the sale of her first romantic suspense novel to Love Inspired Suspense. For the latest news or to contact Angela, visit www.angelaruthstrong.com or connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads