To Sara with Love (and a bit of advice)

Post four on the writer’s blog hop, and the question this time is: what advice would you give to a newbie writer? Click on the icon below to read other bloggers’ responses to this question.

blog-hop-for-writers2

As for me, I’m asked this question fairly often, and I always approach it with fear and trembling. I still have so much to learn myself; how on earth could I possibly offer counsel to anyone else? Having said that, there is someone I would dearly love to give a little advice to: myself. The me that is at the very beginning of this incredible journey, about to take her first, tentative steps down the path. That girl has a lot to learn. So here are a few things I would say to her if I could:

 

Dear Sara,

It is often said that when we start out on our writing journey (or any journey, for that matter) we really don’t know what we don’t know. And that is especially true of you. Eight or nine years further down the road, I still carry with me the haunting feeling that there is so much l don’t know that I don’t know. Maybe, though, I know a little more now of what I didn’t know I didn’t know back then, so I will cling to that hope and claim it as a tenuous right to give you a little advice.

That first rough draft of that first ever novel you think is so good? Let that go, honey. A rough draft is rarely good, and a first ever rough draft is practically guaranteed to be rubbish, so let me save you a little humiliation and disabuse you of the notion that it’s anywhere near ready for public consumption.

I realize you’ve been reading practically non-stop since you were in diapers, but it’s a big leap from reading words on a page, and arranging them yourself on a blank screen in any credible fashion. It seems like it shouldn’t be. I mean, you have no trouble distinguishing between other authors’ good writing and bad writing; you should have no trouble telling whether or not what you have written is Pulitzer Prize worthy or not, right?

Wrong.

It is impossible to be objective about your own work, so here is my best advice to you: Be teachable. Let other people, knowledgeable people, people in the business, people who aren’t your mother, take a look at what you have done. Listen to their feedback. Carefully and prayerfully consider everything they say. Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t; they’re not objective either. If two or more knowledgeable people agree on an issue, however, think long and hard before you reject what they say as they most likely have a valid point.

Don’t rush this process. Learning to write takes time. Learning to write with excellence takes a lot of time. Beyond getting feedback and constructive criticism from as many others as possible, take courses, read books, find a mentor, join a writers’ group, attend conferences, sign up for webinars, travel, experience new people, places and things; take every possible opportunity to learn, grow, and stretch yourself – as a writer and as a person.

travelWhen you think you have learned everything there is to know and no one can teach you anything else about the craft of writing, go and find another career. You will never learn everything there is to know. If you start thinking you have then you are no longer teachable and you’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favours by continuing to produce work that isn’t getting any better.

As N.J. Lindquist once said, if you believe in your story, never, ever give up on it. That’s excellent advice too, even if I didn’t say it first. Not giving up on something isn’t the same as refusing to work on it and make it stronger, clearer, tighter, smoother, more descriptive, more vivid, more alive and more powerful, though. Never, ever give up on doing that either.

It’s a long road you’ve started out on. Enjoy every step of it. Don’t rush ahead so quickly that the breathtaking views on either side become little more than a blur. Put in the time. Put in the work. Persevere over, under or through every obstacle in your path (and there will be many). Derive every bit as much pleasure from the journey as you will at arriving at your destination. In fact, prepare yourself for the possibility that the journey may be your destination. Leave that in the hands of the One who gave you the gift in the first place; only then will you experience true joy in your calling, wherever it may lead you.

road3So buckle up and hang on. Even from where I stand, just a little further down the path than you, I can promise you this: whatever great and unknown challenges lie ahead, it’s going to be a glorious ride.                                                                                      

                                                                                                Press on, my friend. Press on,

                                                                                                Sara

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to To Sara with Love (and a bit of advice)

  1. Beautiful advice, Sara. I, too, wish I could write a letter to my past self. But, I think it’s the unknown that ultimately makes the journey worth it.

    Happy writing,
    RB

    • Sara Davison says:

      Yes, you’re right. The unknown may be a little frightening, but it’s what keeps our writing – and our lives – fresh, interesting and exciting. Thank you for your comments!

  2. Bobbie Cole says:

    Your advice is pretty similar to mine. I think we’re travelling parallel paths which is why we writers really need to mingle and trade ideas and experiences.

    • Sara Davison says:

      I totally agree Bobbie – which is one of the reasons I love the idea of this blog hop. Writing may be a solitary occupation, but the writer’s life can only be made richer by being in community. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Bobbie, I love working with other writers….not only do I learn but develop friendships!!!!

  4. Sara,
    I’m glad you’re participating in the blog hop and sharing your insights. We all grow stronger when we learn from each other. I agree with your advice, especially the point about objectivity. Our writing is part of us, so it’s impossible for us to be objective about it. Another great reason to connect with other writers like we’re doing 🙂

  5. What great advice, Sara! I especially like, “Be teachable”. I pray that I will never stop learning.

  6. I’m with Kimberley. The “Be Teachable” part of your post is what I need to be reminded of continually. We’re all on a learning journey. Thanks.

  7. Leanne Ross says:

    I like how you compiled this into a letter to yourself. And, it is so true that we can hardly be objective about our own writing. Letting someone else teach you as you go (grabbing those moments where you find them) is wonderful advice.

    Thanks!
    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

  8. Bonnie Way says:

    Beautiful advice! You’re right that many first novels are simply practice and should be thrown out, but some have a bit of inspiration or tidbits of greatness about them that can be recovered. 🙂 I love your advice to always keep learning. So true! I’ve been writing for a little bit longer than you have but I totally agree that I still have more to learn – that makes it exciting. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and for dropping by my blog!

    • Sara Davison says:

      Thanks Bonnie. The great thing about being a writer is it’s usually pretty easy to stay humble 🙂 You’re right – it’s so important for all of us to remember we still have a lot to learn and, like you, I’m happy about that as I love to learn and grow as a writer and as a person.

  9. Love the way you approached this topic. A beautiful letter to yourself, full of wise advice for every writer.

  10. I love the letter-to-self approach. Nice job!

  11. Like your creative approach to this post, as in writing a letter to your writer-self. This paragraph was my favorite:

    “It’s a long road you’ve started out on. Enjoy every step of it. Don’t rush ahead so quickly that the breathtaking views on either side become little more than a blur. Put in the time. Put in the work. Persevere over, under or through every obstacle in your path …. Derive every bit as much pleasure from the journey as you will at arriving at your destination. In fact, prepare yourself for the possibility that the journey may be your destination. Leave that in the hands of the One who gave you the gift in the first place; only then will you experience true joy in your calling, wherever it may lead you.”

    Such wise words. I am coming to the realization that this writing journey may not be about the articles, poems & stories I produce as much as the changes and learning those pieces inspire in me. You’ve said it so well. Thanks.

    • Sara Davison says:

      Thank you Violet. I’m not sure if it would have been helpful or not for me to realize in the beginning just how long (and slow) the road to publication is, but it definitely helps to be reminded that it’s not all about the destination. It may not be about the destination at all, in fact, but in enjoying, learning from, and making the most of the journey. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Yes! Great advice. Being open to feedback is critical. The only way to get better.

  13. I think this journey only ends if we quit. We may look ahead and think we see the end, but when we get there, it’ll only be a bend in the road. And the next bit’s probably steeper 🙂 But we believe in what we’re doing, so we keep moving.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s