Today in the continuing series on What I've Learned on My Writing Journey I have Pamela Cook author of Blakwattle Lake and the upcoming release Essie's Way.
Three Things I’ve Learnt On My Writing Journey -
As a recently published author I’m pretty new to this writing game and for the last eighteen months I’ve been on a huge learning curve so the topic of this blog post is very apt.
Thanks Monique! I sat down and brainstormed the things I’ve learnt on my writing journey and came up with a very long list. Some of these things I’ve learnt over a much longer period of time – I’d been writing for 12 years before being published but I’ve decided to focus on three things I’ve learnt since my debut novel was released last December.
1. Write The First Draft Fast
I spent over five years on one novel, much of which was spent writing sections and revising them over and over rather than moving forward. That novel taught me a huge amount about the craft of writing – description, word choice, sentence structure and the like. But it taught me very little about plot and structure. The two subsequent novels were written very quickly, one as a NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in a month) and the other over three months. In both cases I forced myself to keep going with the story, resisted the urge to re-read or revise and in both cases the story unfolded organically and the structure seemed to come a lot more easily. Both of those novels were accepted for publication.
Stop-start drafting allows your inner critic to whisper insidiously in your ear. You find yourself second-guessing the quality of your writing and the direction of your story. It may even nag you enough to block your writing altogether.
2. Whether Your Book Is Published Or Not Is Largely About The Market and Not Necessarily About The Quality Of Your Writing
I have read some amazing manuscripts – beautifully written, wonderful characterization, interesting plot – a whole variety of stories written by writing buddies. Yet sadly many of them have been rejected by publishers. The reality is that it’s all about the market. Even if a publisher loves a manuscript the bottom line is that it has to be approved by the marketing department. Much depends on popular taste at the time, what other titles the publishing house already has out there and how many copies they think it will be possible to sell. If your book has a strong commercial flavour it may be easier to get it over the line than if it is highly literary. Of course literary works are still sought after but it may take longer to find the right home for such a work. In my own case I just happened to write a novel set in the country which had some romantic elements right around the time the Rural Romance genre was starting to boom. Fortunately for me there was already a market out there for the type of book I’d written which made it that much easier for my manuscript to be picked up. Ultimately you need to write what comes naturally and what you love to write. And now there’s always the option of self publishing if a more traditional deal becomes hard to find.
3. Hard Work and Perseverance Trump Talent
I know some will disagree with this belief but after my own experience, and observing the writing journeys of many others I’m sticking by it. Of course there are some writers out there who are born with a natural flair. All they have to do is put pen to paper and the words flow. But that doesn’t guarantee publication. If having your book published is your ultimate goal you need to write, rewrite and then write some more. This will take hours, days and years of your life and you need to be prepared to devote a great deal of time to your writing. Discipline, time management and the ability to say no are all essential requirements if you are aiming for publication. Even the most gifted writers need to put in the hours.
Those of us who are lesser mortals may have to work a little harder at perfecting our craft but it is the writers who keep at it, who take rejection in their stride and learn from it, and who are determined to find readers – whether through traditional or indie channels – who will be the most successful.
There’s quite a few other things I’ve learned – and continue to learn – on my writing journey. I’ll be blogging about them in the future. But for now, happy writing, and keep at it.
Pamela's books are published by Hachette Australia:
You can find Pam on her website: