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Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.
Firstly, please put your hands together for the brilliant administrators:
They have been working their socks off for the writing community and created Insecure Writer’s Support Group to “..be a major source of information and support for writers everywhere” and their hard work has ensured it made the Writer’s Digest 19th Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers!
July 5 Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?
I’ve learned so many lessons since I began writing, from reading good and bad books and as many craft books as I can get my grubby little grasping hands on, from making a bazillion mistakes, from hating then loving then hating my work, and so on. But if I have to choose one lesson to share here, I’ll choose this:
Beginners: Don’t publish before you’re ready!
With the growth and ease of self-publishing, the allure to do so can be great. That doesn’t mean you should! You see, with the gift of having no gatekeepers such as those in traditional publishing comes with the very real potential for humiliation.
My first book developed from a short story about a young journalist in a haunted house into a 400+ page urban fantasy monster of a project, called Finding Esta. I wrote it quickly, passionately, got a recent graduate editor friend of mine to give it a pass, paid for a fabulous cover and published it for all to see.
Why oh why oh why did I do that?
For a few months, I was proud as punch. I even publishing it for print and got a few copies to give to friends and family. But I started to consume craft books at an alarming rate. You know? Those things I should have read BEFORE I published. The more I learned the more I looked back on Finding Esta as a terrible and costly mistake.
I’d never even heard of outlining or character arcs or plotting, etc. I just sat down one day and wrote a story about a character who I couldn’t get out of my head. A few academics I’ve met lately would argue that’s what writing is all about but there must also be structure.
Soon, I decided to re-edit the book using techniques I’d learned and split it into two smaller books. I still had to finish the series with a third book, which I entitled Finding Luna, so I wrote the first draft of that one quickly too, though far less passionately because it was something which ‘had to get done.’ I was getting there, although still unconvinced it deserved to be ‘out there.’
Then, I edited the third draft during a manic phase until it became a jumble of useless words and every time I looked at the manuscript thereafter it reminded me of the manic episode and I couldn’t think straight enough to work on it. I even left it for several months, hoping that would help, but it didn’t.
All I associated my story with–my awesome protagonist–was regret.
The first two books received great reviews during this time surprisingly, and I was even offered two publishing contracts by indie publishers who wanted to re-write and relaunch the story with me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t willing to sign-up at the time, mostly because I didn’t want to let anyone down. The story had sucked the joy out writing and dented my confidence.
Because I felt awful for anyone who wanted to find out what happened to the characters, and because an unfinished series wasn’t a great advertisement for me, I had to remove it from sale.
That was the end of the Supes Series.
What I should have done in the beginning was read craft books, read and read some more, and practice writing with shorter pieces. I should have patiently approached publishing ONLY when ready, after beta readers and critique partners have scrutinised and editors have cauterised! Currently, I’m writing horror shorts which I hope to enter into competitions or anthologies (and re-editing the horror short I’ve previously published) and practising my craft.
*This is a great post: 14 Questions to Ask Before You Self Publish by Janice Hardy.
Will I write another series? Never say never. But next time I’ll do so as an informed writer who knows exactly what she’s doing. And I will not be self-publishing until the story is ready.
So writers, keep learning, reading, and making (as few as possible) mistakes. All three steer us to better writing.
And remember to publish ONLY when your work is ready to be shared.
What lesson did you learn from writing?