Writing was something I started doing completely on my own. Unlike piano, where I had a music teacher and the guidance that followed from my lessons, I was very on my own as a writer. Granted, I did start out writing with a few friends, but we were really young, and I was far from educated on the writing craft.
Now, I’m not saying that that was a bad thing. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned and grown. And I’m still learning and growing, now more than ever. But, looking back, I notice that there were three things I needed to hear as a young writer.
1. Your first project doesn’t have to be perfect.
When I reached the end of my first novel, one of my first thoughts was, “I poured so much time and energy into this book. What if it’s not even that good? What if it never gets published? What if I wasted all of that time?”
I drove myself crazy with these questions, forcing myself to meticulously go through and edit that first book instead of moving onto other things. I was missing the basic answers to those questions.
Is it that good? Honestly, that’s not what matters at this point. It was my first book, and I was young. There was time for me to learn and grow in my writing before deeming my poor, first book as objectively “good” or “bad”. If writing is what you want to do, there will come a time where you’ll need find out how good the quality of your writing is, or if you’re world-building in the best way, or if your plot is good. But what matters is that you actually went through and finished your first book. Who cares if it’s messy? You did it! You finished your book! That’s not the end of your writing adventure, it’s the beginning! Don’t downplay your achievement, and don’t put so much pressure on your first project to be perfect. It may never be published, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. You learn so many things by writing that so long as you’re intentional about improving, no project will be a waste of time.
2. Let people read your work.
The fear of letting others read what you’ve written is a real thing. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’m still there. I still hesitate before I press that “send” button. Ultimately, it’s up to you when you decide to share your writing with others. You may need time to revise it. You may need time to find the right people to read it. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is letting that fear hold you back from something that will greatly improve your writing. Feedback from beta readers is so important because there comes a time when writers can’t read through their work in a way that readers are going to. A scene may make perfect sense to you as the author because you know exactly what you were going for. A beta reader may read the same scene and be confused.
One reason I think I was so afraid to share my writing was because I felt that once someone had read it, I would be unable to go back and change it. That’s not true. I sent the first quarter of my novel to a friend, and then said, “Hey, so, I need to change all these characters’ names. Sorry!” By the time that friend had finished that novel, I had made so many changes, both based off of her own feedback and things that I just felt needed to be edited.
I know that there are other many other reasons writers are reluctant to share their work, and like I said at the beginning, you’re the one who needs to decide if your writing is ready to be read and if you’re ready to receive feedback on it. But I always encourage writers to share their writing because constructive feedback opens so many doors to improvements.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help.
This one seems so obvious, but when I started out, I had this weird idea in my head that if I wanted to build a career as a writer, I had to earn every bit of it all on my own. I couldn’t ask my grandmother and cousins to read my blog posts because, somehow, I thought it was cheating.
Maybe this one is just me. But just in case there’s someone else out there thinking along those lines, don’t be afraid to let your family and friends support you! In fact, it would be great if they formed the foundation of your platform and career, because they are supporting you as a person as well.
I hope that something in this post was helpful to you!