Great writing advice never grows old. Great advice can be the one thing that helps you stay alive as you cross a barren desert of rejection or the rocky mountains of self doubt. We welcome Julie Eshbaugh, author of IVORY AND BONE, here today as she guides us along a five step journey towards publication!
What Advice Would You Give to Other Writers?
"Not everyone will take the same path to publication. There’s more than one way to get there, and there’s no schedule that says you need to be there by a certain age or time in your life."
With my debut novel about to be released, I think about these types of things a lot lately. If you’ll indulge my love of lists, I would like to share five pieces of advice that I can see, looking back, helped me grow as a writer and reach the point where I am now. I just want to say upfront, though, that I don’t feel like I’m giving this advice from the perspective of someone who has “arrived,” or “made it.” Getting published is just one step in the journey, (although an exciting one!) and I want to stress the fact that I don’t feel that I have all the answers!
1.) Form friendships with other writers
Writing can be a very lonely pursuit, and there is nothing that helped me more on this journey than the other writers I met who had the same goals I had. Also, pay it forward. Be supportive of writers who are a step or two behind you. Twitter is a wonderful place to meet other writers, as are blogs like this one. When I signed with my first agent six years ago, I had just joined a writing blog called Let the Words Flow. That blog grew into Pub(lishing) Crawl, and I still blog with that team today. Without the support of the Pub Crawl contributors and readers, this road would have been a lot harder.
2.) Make Good Art
The day you learn that an editor wants to make an offer on your book will be a wonderful day, but there are often lots of disappointments along the way. Most writers have at least one manuscript that goes out on submission and does not find a home. (I had two.) When you feel frustrated or dejected or full of doubt, the best thing you can do is turn to the work. Throw yourself into a writing project, because the writing will always be there for you. It will remind you that you love the process. It will remind you that you love story. The famous commencement speech by Neil Gaiman entitled “Make Good Art,” says all of this better than I can. You can watch a great animated excerpt from it here.
3.) Harbor no regrets
Not everyone will take the same path to publication. There’s more than one way to get there, and there’s no schedule that says you need to be there by a certain age or time in your life. If you wrote two novels that didn’t get published (like I did,) it might be tempting to look back and second guess the decisions you made when you chose which projects to work on, or to question other past choices, like what you studied in school or what you did for your day job. Don’t waste time making wishes about the past. Be grateful for the experiences you’ve had, because those things have given you your unique perspective that only you can bring to your writing.
4.) Remind yourself every day that you’re a writer
It can be really hard to think of yourself as a writer when you have a busy day job and other responsibilities that fight to claim your identity. It was especially hard for me because I wasn’t willing to tell anyone beyond my family and writer friends that I was writing. But I used small tricks to constantly reinforce my understanding of who I was. I created passwords that reminded me of writing, for instance, and kept encouraging emails from my CP at the top of my inbox. I also wrote every day—something I highly recommend—so I would never forget I was a writer first.
5.) Maintain a folder of writing ideas so you always have something to work on next
As I said earlier, it’s easy to get discouraged when agents or editors pass on your work. When the book right before IVORY AND BONE didn’t find a home with a publisher, I was pretty discouraged. Fortunately, I had a folder on my desktop with several ideas sketched out, and I chose to work on a prehistoric fantasy I’d been thinking about for years. By minimizing the downtime between projects, I didn’t have time to think about the rejection or feel sorry for myself. I had a new goal and I set deadlines for myself to finish the draft. I fell in love with the new story fairly quickly, and it helped me avoid a real writing slump.
"Getting published is just one step in the journey"
That’s it! Those are five pieces of advice that helped me reach my goal of becoming a published author. I hope you find something here helpful on your own journey to publication. Thank you so much to Adventures in YA Publishing for having me as their guest here today.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She is the author of IVORY AND BONE.
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-posted by Michelle Taylor-