If I could offer you only one tip for the future, editor would be it. The long term benefits of using editors have been proven by scholars and successful writers whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and gift of your stories; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and gift of your stories until you discover them hidden under the bed while spring cleaning.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at these stories and wonder why you never tried to publish them. You can’t grasp now how much possibility lies before you and how fabulous you really looked at your imaginary book launch in your head.
Those stories of yours are not as bad as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to figure out why some celebrities get book deals and hard working writers do not. The real troubles in your life are likely to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you some afternoon when you realise you assigned the same name to two characters in your book.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s truth in your stories and don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end you will always have a better story than the celebrities with the instant book deals.
Remember the compliments you receive, constructively use the criticism agents dish out to you; if you succeed in doing this then tell me how.
Keep your old love letters; throw away your old bank statements. No story I have ever written has involved bank statements.
Stretch, then write.
Don’t feel guilty if you haven’t written your two thousand words today. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to write about. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium in between your writer block moments.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Be kinder to your hands. They are your tool to write.
Maybe you’ll be successful, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have a major film deal, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll decide you are happy to self publish, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary because you are rolling in cash…whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your future as a successful writer is half chance, half skill, so is everybody else’s.
Enjoy your stories, develop them every way you can…don’t be afraid of them, or what other people think of them, they will be the greatest instrument for discussion you’ll ever own…
Dance…in your own living room, but only after you have written your two thousand words.
Read the directions when submitting to agents, even if you don’t understand them.
Do NOT read watch unrealistic films about successful writers, they will only make you feel talentless.
Get to know your parents; they could help finance your first book launch.
Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your first review and the people most likely to be brutally honest about your work.
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. You can get them to critique your work. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the closer you get to releasing your first book, the more you need the people you knew to buy it.
Live in New York City once, but leave before you forget you are not on holidays and supposed to be writing a book; live in Northern California once, but leave before you blister from the midday sun.
Accept certain inalienable truths, others will become successful, fake celebrity writers will get more book deals, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young, chances of getting published were reasonable, and there was no market for fake celebrity writers.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a book deal, maybe you have lots of money in the bank, but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair. By the time your book launch comes around, it will look fine.
Be careful whose advice you buy, and be sure it is from a reputable source. Free advice can be good from those who are qualified to give it. Dispensing unqualified advice is like picking a comment out of the trash, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the editor…