“God is faithful, and He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
Winston Churchill once said, “Writing a book is an adventure. It begins as an amusement, then becomes a mistress, then a master, and finally, a tyrant.” When students and readers ask what advice I’d offer unpublished and/or established authors, I think of that phrase, and remember this quote from G.K. Chesterton: “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
Newsflash: There’s a bit of truth in both writers’ opinions. Trouble is, neither provide any real advice. Maybe that’s because the answer is so multi-faceted:
Do I recommend how-to books? Sure. But don’t invest a fortune purchasing them at the bookstore. Borrow a few first, from the library or friends. Then, if one offers solid tips, make an investment.
What about writing classes? Take some, definitely. But don’t just sign up for any old class. Do your homework before the first class. Call the organization and/or school and ask about the instructor’s credentials...and check them out. The old adage “Those who can, do...those who can’t, teach” might be true of other industries, but in the wacky world of writing, the opposite is true: You can’t teach what you can’t do. I know too many could- be authors whose careers foundered because of the misleading lessons of wannabe teachers.
How do I feel about writers’ conferences? They’re terrific. Not only do most provide numerous helpful how-to workshops, but conferences are a great place to meet editors, agents, and people just like you who want their work published.
And what about contests? Personally, I prefer to judge contests rather than enter them. I know many authors whose contest wins provided a springboard to publication. Again, my advice is do your homework. Make sure your story is right for the contest. Get your money’s worth by entering only contests whose judges are published authors and/or working agents and editors. Otherwise, you’re in the same boat as the people who “learn” erroneous stuff from “teachers.” Judges with no publishing credits can do far more harm than good when critiquing a submission.
Should you become a member of local and/or national writing organizations? Yes. But, again, join a group that can forward your career. The Internet can lead you to associations that specialize in your favorite genre, or to generic groups that cater to fiction and non-fiction writers.
Critique groups? Another resounding yes! But put your energies into a group that has every member’s best interests at heart. Opinions can’t help you create works that are salable, but constructive criticism can...accent on constructive.
Will people steal your ideas? Not likely. Writers are, for the most part, generous and honest. Talented, creative types don’t need to borrow the work of others, for their imaginations grow stories the way Old MacDonald grew animals on his farm. Excellence is never an accident, so if you run into one of these unsavory, spineless, talentless thieves, consider it an honor: They thought highly enough of your work to steal it and try to pass it off as their own. Don’t waste time and energy worrying about the iota they took. Move forward, immediately, with work on your next exciting story. To put a spin on another old adage? “The best revenge is writing, and publishing, well.”
Dream big. Shoot for the stars. Plant your keester in a chair and type. Think you don’t have time? Bah! At the end of a year, one page a day will produce a 365 page novel. Don’t have time
for a page a day? MAKE time.
I’ll pray He makes YOUR way easy to see.
Bestselling author Loree Lough once sang for her supper, performing across the U.S. and Canada. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly, she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, 4- and 5-star reviews, and 5 book-to-movie options. Her 100th book, Saving Alyssa, #3 in “A Child to Love” series for Harlequin Heartwarming, released in March of 2014. Next up, the “Secrets on Sterling Street historical series from Whitaker House, and “Those Marshall Boys” contemporary series from Harlequin Heartwarming. Both series will release during 2014 and 2015.
Loree enjoys sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry. Her comedic approach makes her a favorite at writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the U.S. and abroad.
A writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (See "Giving Back" @ http://www.loree lough.com to see the list.) She loves hearing from her readers, and answers every letter, personally.