Newbie Authors: You are Not Alone
I began to take my writing seriously in my late twenties. Before that I was a serious writer. I had allowed pages upon pages of handwritten stories to flow from my imagination into the pen and onto the page. I still have notebooks filled with those early writings. I haven’t read them in years. I know what I’ll find.
Those stories might entertain readers who do not know that writing comes with hard work, and I had not put my diligence into those stories. Even ten years after beginning to learn about the art of storytelling, my art was much lacking. Nearly twenty years later, I began to believe I had enough mastery of the craft of storytelling that I could begin to submit my stories.
In those early years, I sought out knowledgeable writers. I found a few, but mostly I found writers who were seeking answers similar to mine. I grew up as an author with a few of them. We still call each other friends. As the years went by, opportunities to grow began to open up. My first writer friends, I studied and critiqued each other’s work together taking in what we learned individually and collectively. Some of those very writers are the ones who have opened the field, have shared their expertise, and in that regard, newer authors are able to glean easily from their knowledge.
New authors do not have to go it alone. What they do have to own is a courageous spirit, one that is not afraid of honest criticism. They must persevere. Doubts often assail authors no matter if the author is unpublished or if the author has hundreds of books to his/her name. Authors who realize that this is normal might get down for a bit, but eventually they realize that the only one who can stop anyone from pursuing a dream is the person with the dream. When an author analyzes the doubts that float to the surface from time to time, he or she might realize that they come from areas outside the writing process: everyday challenges that prevent the author from writing, jealous peers who say it can’t be done, etc. Inner doubts, the ones in which the author says “I’m no good. It can’t be done. Everyone is better than me. How can I break through?” can be met by giving up or pushing onward. The choice is always that of the author.
As mentioned, if an author wants friends along the journey there are many places those friends can be found. I stumbled upon my writing friends in the early days of the Internet–the very early days of the Internet. Many of them were members of Kingdom Writers. Many authors from Kingdom Writers went to American Christian Romance Writers, which eventually became American Christian Fiction Writers (and now they are no longer exclusively American. The organization is worldwide), with local chapters found in many areas. Word Weavers is another organization that offers face-to-face critique, and now it has expanded into online critique groups. For my money, I remain a member of ACFW because of the critique groups. I was a part of a second wave that setup a great way to find friends and to break out into smaller critique groups. ACFW offers other perks such as informative online classes and webinars. I prefer Word Weavers for the face-to-face friendships I develop in the area I live. Yes, I have face-to-face friends in ACFW also, but the key is the opportunities that writers have to grow within these and other environments that are structured for a writer’s development. Both ACFW and WW are very inexpensive when you compare them with what they offer.
Some authors reach out to newer writers to give back. They agree to mentor an author. I had a wonderful, well-known author agree to mentor me. Of course, I knew most of the elements of storytelling by that time, and my mentoring came in the form of questions that plagued me as I moved forward into the submission process. Those contacts are invaluable to an author.
Coaching/mentoring has evolved into a business in the industry. I am apart of that industry as I still continue to write and to work with a publisher in a variety of ways other than writing. Though I both coach and freelance edit, for a newbie writer, I recommend a writing coach, but one must be careful to understand what the coach is offering and to evaluate the coach/mentor very carefully to clarify that the professional knows what he or she is doing and can offer solid advice and teaching. I prefer to work on elements of story, working through a story with an author at their chosen pace so that when they have completed one project, they will know most of the elements it takes to go into their art. Not all coaches/mentors work like this.
Again, newbie writers, you are not alone. The writer who has been at it for years still needs to have critique partners, writing friends, someone to come along and encourage. There is no reason that a newbie writer can’t be that person. Some of the best critiques I’ve received are from new writers who are soaking up the elements and squeezing them out into the critiques of others. In every area, the give-and-give relationship of authors is the fastest way to grow in the art of storytelling. Don’t try to go it alone.
Fay Lamb (The Tactical Editor) is an author, editor, and writing coach.
Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the newest A Dozen Apologies. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.