So many good books to celebrate this year! I’ve been following the “best of” lists, the successes of friends, the books that are making a difference in kids’ lives. I decided to make my own “best of” list, but not of books (for those, please see the CBC lists, and NPR’s list, among others.
What follows is a “best of” list of some of what I’ve learned about living the writer’s life. I hope it helps you during the season of what can be, for some, both ups and downs.
- Write a little every day. Even if it’s just a sentence. Even if it’s just an idea.
- Some ideas are better than others. Choose to write the idea that speaks to your heart.
- A writing career is non-competitive. Another’s success does not mean your failure; there’s always room for another book on the shelf.
- Successful writing careers are like icebergs – there’s a lot more craft-work going on under the surface.
- Craft books are inspiring, so find a new one and absorb its messages if you are in a writing funk.
- Read, read, read. Especially if you are in a writing funk.
- Your physical health is important to your writing. Taking a walk is a great way to get the brain working. Eat and drink in moderation, exercise every day.
- Join a writing organization like SCBWI or RWA or MWA. Build community. Build fellowship. They provide invaluable information, too.
- A rejection may mean no more than “I don’t get it; it’s not to my taste.”
- On the other hand, rejection should always be a time of reflection – is the work as strong as it could be?
- But don’t keep revising the same piece over and over. At some point, move on. Your skills will only grow when you stretch.
- Try writing something outside your comfort zone at least once a month. Poetry, a short story, a picture book (if you’re a novelist), a novel (if you’re a picture book writer).
- Nothing you write is ever a waste. There’s a lot of waiting in publishing: write something new while you wait on something old.
- Cultivate beta readers you trust. Listen carefully to what they say.
- Give back. Mentor new writers, mentor kids, be a great beta reader yourself.
- The writing community (especially for children) is tiny. Be nice. Be thoughtful. Be honest. Take the long view.
- That editor or agent who rejected you yesterday might just be the editor or agent who accepts you tomorrow. Don’t burn bridges.
- Never read Goodreads’ reviews. Period.
- Travel, if you can. Seeing the world through the eyes of those entirely different from you will enrich your writing.
- The world needs your words, your ideas, your thoughts. No one else can express ideas the way that you can – you are unique. Write from your heart and you’ll succeed.
I love this, Janet! Can’t wait to share.
Thanks so much Caroline! (I love reading your posts…..!)
This is a great list, Janet! I’m glad to have it to pass on to others.
Thanks so much, Linda!!! Happiest of holidays!