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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RTW: Well That Was a Mistake

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.

This week’s prompt was: What’s the biggest writing/querying/publishing mistake youve made?

The one good thing about never having sent a single query is I’ve never made a terrible can’t-take-it-back mistake while trying to land an agent or publishing contract or whatever. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t royally screw up when I do start querying.

Instead, my biggest publishing mistake happened before I’d written a single word. It happened when I let fear get the better of me. Instead of opening a blank document and typing until I reached the end, my thought process went like this:
I really want to write a novel. It’s always been my dream.

I can’t write a novel. I don’t know the first thing about it. I’ll fail.

Ugh, look at that, another book deal. It’s not fair! I want to be a published author!

Shut up and stop whining. It is fair—that person actually wrote a story. I just think about it.

But I have no idea how to go about writing a novel! Are there rules? There must be rules. Rules I haven’t heard about—just another reason why I’ll fail horribly if I try.

I’m okay with just writing articles. I’m published, does it really matter that it’s not a novel?

Of course it matters!

 This went on for, oh, five years. The biggest factor in me not starting the story that was in my head (or the next one, or the next one) was the fear of failure. I didn’t want to write a story that sucked. I didn’t want to find out that my writing ability was severely stunted when it came to fiction.

I waited way too long. Because the fact is, when someone wants something as bad as I wanted to be a published author (I’m sure you can all relate to the feeling), they don’t give up. So I was just delaying the inevitable. And in doing so, I was delaying the good things, too. I couldn’t get an agent or a book deal without the book.

So while I might not have querying battle wounds, I have a feeling it’s not entirely a good thing.

Oh, and in case anyone’s in the position I was not too long ago, you should know: There are no rules. Pick up a pen and paper or open a new document and write. That’s it. Tell the story that’s in your head. 

You can do it because there are no prerequisites to writing a book. You don’t need an MFA or other creative writing degrees. All you need is the ability to write and, more importantly, the ability to revise. And if you write and revise enough times, never giving in to the fear of failure, you’ll reach your goal.

You and you and you and you and you will all reach your goals. I’m certain of it. It’s just a matter of when.

What’s your biggest writing, querying, or publishing mistake?

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