10 Writing Truths (Part 1)

Photo credit: Olivander on Flickr
I remember writing my very first manuscript. I was young and naïve about what it really meant to be a writer.

I’d heard somewhere, that being a published author would mean a lot of hard work, that most writers write many, many manuscripts before they find publication, that books are written and re-written over and over again before truly perfected.

Someone had told me that being a writer was hard, but that didn’t deter me. Sure, I thought. It’s hard to write a book, but I’ve already started one. I’m doing the hardest part already.

Maybe it was just me, but I think a lot of writers start the same way: we hear things about writing, but we’re optimistic. It’s a new journey we’re about to embark, we’re disillusioned with Hollywood portrayals of instant successes and break out debut authors who seemingly appear out of nowhere with million-dollar ideas. We think, that could be me, and we largely ignore those unpleasant writing rumors that the profession we’re about to try to enter is actually excruciatingly difficult.

Over the course of seven manuscripts, I’ve learned ten writing truths that I’d like to share with you in two parts (because frankly, it’s way too much to cover in one post). They’re not always easy and fun to hear, but to me at least, they’re necessary.

The first five writing truths (in no particular order):

1. Rewriting really means rewriting. This one took me a long time to learn. I used to think that by rewriting, authors couldn’t possibly mean actually rewriting the entire novel. You mean that first draft was just a practice round? I actually have to relive the whole thing and write these scenes over and over again, scrapping what I first had?

In short? Yes. Yes you do. Sure, depending on how tight and polished your first draft is, some writers will have a larger percentage of first draft material in the final draft than others, but by and large rewriting means exactly what it sounds like. Write it again.  

2. Not everything you write will be (or should be) published. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about why gatekeepers are actually a good thing and how not every novel you write will be the one, so I’m not going to reiterate the entire thing again. I know it’s harsh and it’s definitely one of the more difficult writing truths to accept, but not everything you write is meant for the limelight. Every novel you write is a learning experience, a stepping stone to the dream—and those first ones you write? Chances are, they aren’t meant to be unleashed to the world and that’s ok.

3. Writing is a love-hate relationship. Guess what? I don’t feel like writing all the time and I have a sneaking suspicion, I’m not the only one. There have been days, weeks even when I open up a blank Word document or look at a WIP and die a little inside because I don’t. Feel. Like. Writing.

But that doesn’t mean you give up. It means you can take a break sure, perhaps a couple of hours or even a couple of days, but then you get back to work. And if you still don’t feel like writing? Too bad. You’re not always going to want to write, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and get those words on the page anyway.

Good news? Some days writing is wonderful. There will be times when you feel as though you could write literally all day, times when you’ll write until your fingers are exhausted and you’re making silly typos because you can’t feel your hands anymore and you still want to keep going. Those are the days when you know you’re a writer. When you know that this is what you were born to do. Those are the times you hold onto to get through the less-enjoyable spells.

4. Sometimes, your writing will suck. It’s true. There will be days when you feel like you’ve just written an entire chapter of crap. And maybe you have, but that’s why we have the first truth: rewriting.

5. Sometimes, your writing will be amazing. There are few things I enjoy more than looking over something I’ve written and thinking, wow. I actually wrote that? Those moments are truly gratifying—they make the crappy days worth it, and then some.

So those are my first five writing truths. Part 2 will be up on Monday, but until then…

What writing truths do you have to add to the mix? 


Tina Moss said...

I'd add that you need good critique partners or beta readers. You cannot edit on your own. You need a fresh pair of eyes and another person's opinion - hopefully, several other opinions. And you need to be open to feedback.

Ava Jae said...

That's a really fantastic point to add, Tina. Beta readers and critique partners are truly invaluable to the writing process--and if you have good partners, you can really learn a lot from them. 

JFeijten said...

So I was not the only one who hoped/hopes to be the next writing phenomenon? I'm speechless!
However, I must say that after reading several books and seeing much more in bookstores, I realised that even if we get published (and that is far from certain), the chance that we'll be only a little bit famous is as big as the chance that J.K. Rowling will become homeless.
And apparantely, you have discovered that too. Is that a bad discovery?
In a way it probably is, but does that mean that we should stop writing? I don't think so. We write, because we love it. But off course we all hope to be published and read. I wonder, however, if it's such a big difference to have one million readers, whereas others have only 5000 readers. The feeling is the same. You are appreciated.      

Great truths! And as they should be: all very true!

J. A. Bennett said...

I am just learning #1 -- and no matter how much I hate it, it has to be done!

Ava Jae said...

It definitely does! It takes some work, but I think you might find you'll start to enjoy it after a bit (or at least, I know I have).

Ava Jae said...

I'm a bit of a realist, so I don't think it's a bad discovery, either. It's good to know what to expect when you're jumping in, and to me at least, I'm pretty happy regardless of the amount of readers I have. I'm psyched to see my readership grow and every one of you guys are fantastic, but I often remind myself that I never expected to have even half the amount of readers I do now, so every new reader is a blessing. :) 

Beverly Diehl said...

I have learned, that when I think a draft is ready, and my crit partners and beta readers say no it ain't, the one who is right is Not Me.  That is may not take one year to write a book, it may take several.  (And it may still suck.)

But eventually, if you keep plugging away, you *will* write stuff that doesn't suck.

Ava Jae said...

Practice and patience are most certainly key ingredients for writers. 

Me me me said...

Thanks for this blog. It's helpful, especially for some kid who's trying to write a novel and has no idea what she's actually doing. :3

Ava Jae said...

I'm very happy to hear that you've been finding my blog helpful! Best of luck with your writing! ^_^

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