Recently, I was emailing back and forth with a “younger” writer. And during the course of our conversation I began to hear some of her frustration in not knowing what to do with a particular manuscript. I had the sense that she was jumping in too soon and because of that was losing her love of writing.
The more I thought about her situation, the more I began to wonder: When young writers (those who are still working on their first book or two) join the online writing community, are they immersed in the industry too early in their careers?
Let’s face it, the more we read other writer blogs, hear what others are doing, and broaden our knowledge of the writing business, the more we begin to want to become a part of the process. We make more friendships. And we begin to see the accomplishments of our fellow writers—contest finals, agent requests, and growing platforms.
The fact is, newer writers are already excited and anxious for publication without internet pressure. It's hard enough to have patience. Therefore, when we get involved in the cyber writing world, eventually, we might begin to feel left behind or the pressure to keep up with what others are doing—even if we’re right where we need to be.
The internet wasn’t around when I was writing my first books. I was blissfully unaware of what other writers were doing. I spent my time writing and growing and developing my love of the craft. There weren’t any “voices” to discourage, distract, or dissuade me from letting creativity and passion rule.
But newer writers today have the pulse of the writing industry at their fingertips. And while there are an incredible number of benefits to being intimately connected to the industry, young writers may also be feeling undue pressure to do too much too quickly. And once under the pressure, they may soon find the love and joy of writing zapped from them.
I think newer writers, those close to the beginning of their writing journeys, need to take the pressure off themselves. And they need to give their creativity and love of the writing process time to develop. They can do that in several ways:
1. Focus primarily on our writing.
Put aside the pressure to develop a platform—there’s time for that later. Sure, it helps to blog and develop friendships early, but we should give our stories our primary attention. For all the talk about blogging and the importance of social media, the STORY and SKILL of the writer still sell the book (for fiction-writers).
2. Give ourselves the freedom not to edit a book.
Sometimes when newer writers begin editing their first book or two, they find the book needs such major work that the editing bogs them down. Yes, every writer needs to learn how to edit—and they will. But there’s a difference between remodeling and complete makeovers. The work and effort of complete makeovers are daunting to even the most seasoned writers and have the power to crush the joy out of someone less experienced.
3. Allow ourselves to put aside a book. (Even if it’s not finished.)
I admit. I have several unfinished books sitting in a dusty closet. I got part way into the stories and didn’t have an impetus to keep going—probably because of poor plotting. Whatever the reason, some stories just don’t have the drive that’s necessary. If we have to put one aside, then we need to learn from the experience and challenge ourselves to grow before moving on.
4. Give ourselves permission to explore various genres.
Even though now I'm a die-hard historical romance writer, my first five completed novels were contemporary (and they’re in the closet too). When I finally realized I enjoyed reading historicals the most, I began to dabble with writing one—finishing only half. The Preacher’s Bride was the first historical I completed. It took the exploring to find my passion. Recently, I’ve started writing my fourth historical.
5. Don’t worry about what other writers are doing.
Each of our journeys is so unique. Yes, we have the opportunity to see what a LOT of writers are doing thanks to the internet (and we can learn from each other). But we can’t lose sight of our needs and what works best for us.
I realize what I’m advocating may not be popular among the writing community where the drive to get published often seems paramount to the love of the writing process. But I believe if newer writers don’t use caution and guard against the pressure to move too fast, they’re likely to burn out and lose some of the joy of writing.
Do agree or disagree? Do you think growth of the internet is putting undue pressure on newer writers to jump in too fast? What other advice would you give “young” writers to guard against the pressure?
Labels: Beginning Writers
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