March 16, 2017

My Writing Journey: Thoughts and Lessons

My Writing Journey: Thoughts and Lessons

I realized as I was planning this month's blog posts, I'd never written about my personal writing journey. Each writer has a unique story about how and why they started writing, so it's time I shared mine. I'm going to take you from when I started writing to today, then share with you a few lessons I've learned along the way.

My Journey

I've been a writer forever. Or so it seems. Ever since I learned to write, I've been writing. And not just for school either, though my mom was big on creative writing. I have notebooks full of doodles and stories I started but never finished. Most were just me recreating my favorite books, like stories about tiny people and talking animals. One of my favorites was a tale about a rat who lived in a doll house and had a long, curly mustache. Complete with illustrations.

I got older. In school, I did story starters (basically the beginning of a story that you have to write an ending for), art writing prompts, and a writing exercise where you drew four cards from different stacks and wrote a story including the words on the cards. I also started officially journaling about ten years ago. Most of my entries then were about two sentences.

Then came the turning point in my journey. In school I came up with an original story idea that turned out to be 40 (composition notebook) pages. The original version of that story shall never see the light of day, but recently I returned to the idea and am currently using it as a jumping off point for a new version of it. That was when I realized I could really write a novel.

In September of 2012, armed only with a one page summery of what was going to happen in my story that I called an outline, I set off into my first full length novel. 164 pages, about 50K words, and a year and a half later, I finished it. That version was horrible. It's plot was a big mish-mash of some of my favorite books. I'm surprised it was even salvageable. But that was the start of Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog (which is about to have a name change.) Today I'm working on turning it into a real novel, the first in either a duology or a trilogy.

But that novel was empowering. It made me feel like I could be an author like the ones I loved. I started right into several more novels. Another fantasy book and a historical fiction. That's when trouble hit.

I've talked about this before, but I went through a time of extreme doubt. I didn't write for months. I didn't feel my novels were good enough and that I would never be an author. With encouragement from my mom, I got back to writing and rekindled my joy.

As I reached the end of high school, I started to truly work to improve my writing. I started finding resources to teach myself to be a better writer. I discovered sites like She's Novel (now Well Storied) and Helping Writers Become Authors. I read every writing book my library had. I researched, and worked, and dreamed.

Through my local library, I heard of NaNoWriMo. I thought it sounded pretty cool, and started looking into it. In September of 2015 I decided to participate and began my prep. November arrived and I locked myself in my room to write my fingers off. The month came to a close. I emerged from my room with 50K superhero novel and an amazing self-confidence boost. NaNoWriMo showed me I could write a novel. I was, and still am, proud of what I accomplished.

We arrive at today. I've been graduated for almost two years and I currently work for my dad. I've been working hard to improve my writing skills and learning about publishing, my dream since I was young. The past year I've really been thinking about what I want to do with my life and how I want to use my time. I've discovered I'm an introvert and a multi-passionate, which means I don't have just one thing I like to do, but many. All this affects me in different ways.

I still want to be published. Later this year I plan on starting to build my author platform. (Then blog all about it for you.) But I don't want to only be a writer. That's not the way I'm made. I want to do lots of things with my life, like run an Etsy shop, do photography, and more.

However, I will never stop writing. It will be the one thing I will always do. That, I do know. I may be uncertain where my next step is. I don't know where I'm going. But writing is my love and my passion.

Lessons Learned

Through all this, I've learned a variety of lessons. Here I'll summarize a few of them for you in hopes that they'll help, or at least encourage, you.

#1: Understand what you're doing before you start.

I'm not saying you have to know everything about writing before you begin your first novel. But at least understand the basics. Know what three act structure is, along with the basics of pre-writing, and editing. I dove in before I really knew what to do, and now I have to fix the messes of stories I wrote back then. Like anything else, you can't learn without practice, but you can know somewhat what you're doing before you start.

#2: Never give up.

There will be times you doubt. You wonder if this is the path for you. If you're stories are crap and won't sell. But never stop writing. If necessary, take a break, but always come back. Tell someone what you're feeling so they can help and encourage you.

#3: You DON'T need to go to school to be a writer.

This is the most important thing I would tell every writer. Don't spend thousands of dollars going to college to learn to write. Instead, read books, both on writing and fiction books like you want to write. Use those thousands of dollars you saved to pay for the occasional course you might feel would be useful or travel for story research. Instead of going to school for four years to learn how to write, use those four years to actually write and tone your craft. College won't help you become a writer. Only you can do that.

This was a long post, but I hope you enjoyed learning about my writing journey and the lessons I learned. I hope this encourages you to be a writer your way. Now go out there and write.

Let's talk! What is your writing journey? What lessons have you learned? Tell me in the comments.

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