where the writers are
Becoming An Elephant...8 Things I've Learned...
Wet Behind The Ears...

"I am only an egg..." (Robert Heinlein, "Stranger In A Strange Land")

Sometimes I get asked for advice from unpublished authors. I am uncertain why they ask me since I am at the very beginning of this journey and still have gallons of moisture behind my ears. For what it's worth, here is what I have learned so far (in no particular order)...

 1. Writing is 10% writing and 90% editing. Edit 'til you can't stand the thing, then do it three more times. Then have someone else edit it and then go through it three more times after that. You should be there when you start to change words BACK to what they used to be. Here's a good example; I edited this article for three hours before I was almost satisfied. You know you're a writer when...you edit your IMs and text messages...

2. Get yourself a critiquing partner and a set of beta readers (family does nicely, especially if you have older kids...they do owe you; friends and co-worker are always good). LISTEN to what they have to say and be prepared for criticism. That's what you don't pay them for. A critiquing partner is absolutely an imperative and there are lots of groups out there that can help you find one...www.critters.org comes readily to mind, but there are many out there. Check in your genre. Or join a writing class in your community...that's where my fabulous, wonderful, adorable partner came from.

3. Take classes, join associations, join groups, get involved in the writer's community (it's huge) and contribute to it. Harder to do than you think, believe me.

4. Be prepared to spend every waking hour on your dream and even some of your sleeping ones. The muse doesn't rest...at least until you need her, which leads me to...

5. DON'T RELY ON THE MUSE TO HELP YOU. (S)he will always let you down when you need her/him most. Being a published writer does not take inspiration, it takes dedication. You cannot wait until the art moves you...art is a lazy, drunken sod sometimes and it's up to you to move it along. Hardest thing to do as a writer is to keep going. There are lots of tips on how to break writer's block out there. The best advice I ever received? Get off your ass and hit those keys (or move that pen, if you're a purest) - who cares what you write, just write.

6. Be kind, be loving, live well, and treat others well. When you critique someone or even give them an opinion of their work, keep in mind yours is (or will be) in another's hands one day. Creation is a fragile thing and easily destroyed...look at an egg sometime. I know; I shelved writing for twenty years because of a criticism. I regret it to this day.

7. You must develop a thick skin for this business...the whole "slings & arrows" thing. Not everyone is going to like your work....not everyone appreciates the hours that went into its creation...not everyone is kind. A gentle grace is needed to be a writer, I think...swear and punch through walls when you get home, but keep in mind it's only one person's opinion. You can choose to agree...or not. Did I mention this profession takes a bit of ego, as well?

8. There is no reward without sacrifice. When you see your name in print, the paperback crushed in your trembling hands, I promise, it will be worth all the pain. All you have to do then is write the next one...