Wednesday, November 07, 2018
This I Know 2.0
That’s pretty brilliant in itself, that realization. Because so many writers just starting out—myself included—think they know all about writing. We’ve been writing since we were kids, after all, and we may even have degrees in writing or related fields. So we think we have this whole writing thing down. Really, we just need a little bit of information about agents or publishing. And yet, the writer who gets better at this whole writing thing is the one who realizes early on that he or she has a lot to learn.
But unless we go to conferences, sign up for workshops and/or classes, read the genre we want to write as well as read up on the craft of writing that genre, we will never know what we don’t know.
So there are a few things I’ve figured out, after being in this business for so many years, and I thought I’d share to give you a writing leg up, as it were. It’s a short list, but this I know:
That if you want to be a writer in the 21st century, you must be familiar with and use 21st century technology. I’m not saying you can’t write your first draft in longhand; I am saying that when it comes time to submit, you will need those words typed nice and pretty in a digital document. I’m also not saying that you must be signed up for every kind of social media available; I am saying that you must have an online presence somewhere so that readers and/or publishers and editors can find you. And finally, I’m not saying that you must use all the latest financial technology; I am saying that if you want to sell your books or other writing-related materials, there’s a very simple app for that. (Because seriously, y’all, no one carries cash anymore.)
That the best writers have had their work rejected way more than accepted. The thing is, we may not hear about the years of struggle; we only see the success. But very few of the best writers start out with a bang. They start out writing, revising, submitting, and getting rejected. And then starting all over again. And again. And again. And again. The best writers keep at it, even though they will still face rejection after hard-won success.
That if you want to be taken seriously in the writing profession, be professional. Ditch the cutesy email address and never use crazy fonts or colored paper to attract attention. (You will attract attention but not the kind you want.) Use proper grammar. Honor a deadline and reply promptly if you can’t. Treat others—whether you’re meeting them online or in person—with respect.
So how about you? What do you know now that you didn’t know then? I’d love to hear your thoughts because this I know: there’s always something out there I need to learn!
Cathy C. Hall writes for children and adults. Look for her latest byline in Chicken Soup for the Soul's Miracles and More. And if you're in South Korea, you can find her recent leveled readers in bookstores and schools. But if you want to catch up with Cathy herself, look for her around SCBWI conferences or at her website. She knows other stuff, too, and she's not afraid to share it.