So you want to be a writer. So did I. I’ve probably written my million words–about eighty short stories and eight full-length novels, and a couple dozen articles, some published, some not.

To be a published author takes perseverance and a tough skin. I seem to have both. But not in the beginning.

It hurts to get that first rejection. It’s discouraging to get the first dozen.

Baby steps are needed. A baby learns to walk by practicing every day, and that’s what a beginning writer should do. You learn an awful lot by simply doing. But it doesn’t hurt to read a book or more a month about writing, and some of the better writing magazines and now blogs.

Read best-selling authors’ autobiographies or self-help books. Stephen King in On Writing said you should read an hour for every hour you write. You can learn a lot about writing by reading the current best sellers and widely in the genre you’re particularly interested in.

The ONLY way you’ll ever get published is to write. Thinking about it, talking about it won’t get you there. You have to go to that quiet spot with your writing tools and just do it.

Good luck!


Continuing with my advice to writers, I do hope you will take this.

Beware of toxic critiquers. These are people who trash your writing, all the way from your grammar usage, to your plotting, characters, descriptions, and even voice.

A friend of mine, a beginning writer, ran into such a person at a writer’s group not too long ago. She was devastated. The critiquer should not be allowed near another person’s writing ever again. She had no idea about how to give a good critique, and she could destroy beginning writers with her sharp red pencil and sharper tongue.

Fortunately, after my friend’s first impulse to shred her work, she came to her senses with the help of another friend, her husband, and an email from me to let me see her work before she did anything drastic.

I found her premise solid. I found the writing itself very good for a beginner. I liked her main character. I even liked her main character’s dog. I liked the set-up of the story. All of that bodes well for more good stuff to come.

Sure, there was room for improvement. But I could tell she would take advice, she would work hard and most likely finish writing this novel.

A good critiquer does three things:

  1. First, tell the writer what she liked about the piece overall.
  2. Mention a few things that need improvement (fewer for new writers, more details for more advanced writers).
  3. Tell the writer again what she especially liked and urge the writer to produce more for the critiquer to look at.

Never belittle, condemn the whole submission, or only say negative things. There is always something good in everything you see. Some great sentence. A great character, description, premise. I don’t understand people who are so harsh and mean. What does it get them?

Have you ever run into such a critiquer? How did it make you feel? What did you do with the work after the critique? I’d love to hear from you.