The more you write, the better you get.
There you have it. Everything I know boiled down to eight simple words. Deep thoughts, right? You probably already knew that.
But knowing it, and truly knowing it, are sometimes two very different things.
I didn’t find an agent with the first book I queried. It won awards, it got requests, it had some close calls. I put blood, sweat and tears into that story. It was the absolute best that I could do.
At the time.
While I queried it, I started working on another story, the one that did land me with the incredibly wonderful Michelle Humphrey. And even though I found the first draft of that story quite brilliant, critique partners and beta readers were wise enough to point out what needed work. Sometimes quite bluntly 🙂 It took editing, rewriting, more editing, and another big rewrite until it got to the place where it was good enough to catch my agent’s attention.
Last month when I went back to read that first book, the one I queried for a year to no avail, I discovered something amazing: I’m a better writer now than I was two years ago. Much better. I am SO glad that story never got published. It wasn’t ready. And neither was I.
Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. I probably would have been pissed off if someone suggested it at the time. It was the best I could do then. But by keeping at it, my best keeps getting better.
So my advice to every aspiring writer out there? Keep pouring your heart onto the page. Keep listening to people who are willing to give you feedback on your writing, even if you don’t agree with it at the time. Because even the worst critique usually has at least a kernel of truth in it. Don’t get discouraged. Everyone has suffered rejection and lived through it. Everyone has had to rewrite a story they thought they were done with.
The most important thing you can do is to keep at it. Keep writing. You can only get better.