Think back. It's the first day of kindergarten. Your mom or dad has dropped you off at the door of the classroom with a few pieces of advice. Can you remember them? I bet if you list a few of them you'll find that they are pretty similar to the things you will want to know on your journey to becoming a writer. Huh? I know. It sounds weird, but just go with me on this.
These are probably a few pieces of great information they told you:
1. Make sure you know how to tie your shoes
Translation: Put your best foot forward
When starting any new job (or class), you want to learn everything you can about the task ahead. Whether that means learing how to tie your shoes, where the bathroom is, or how to write a book for kids. Granted, that last one is a little more difficult than the first two, but no less important.
As a new writer, learning about your craft is the most important thing you can do. Taking online classes is a great way to start! Or you can go to conferences, or take a writing class at a local high school or college. Just do something to help you LEARN about the process of writing. How to capture and amaze your audience with your words, and how to conduct yourself professionally as a working author. Spending the time to do this will
set you up for success and keep you from tripping over your own shoelace (so to speak).
2. Make Friends
Making friends as a kindergartener is just as important for a writer. Writers spend a lot of time in their own homes in front of their computers. It’s an isolating job. But getting out and meeting with people who love to write and are focused on improving their craft just like you are is imperative. After all, you will eventually want others to read your work. And you will need people to offer constructive comments on your work.
So venture out. Join a critique group! Get on a Facebook page and meet people. Join a #Twitterchat. Do whatever you have to do to meet people and get out there. You will feel better and more like you belong if you are a member of the tribe -- or just a group that scribbles once a week.
3. Treat others well
Translation: Don't judge others for their journey
Just like in kindergarten everyone has their own history they bring to the table. Some may be story tellers and the words flow out of their minds and onto the page quite easily. They send out their first manuscript. They get an agent and then a book sale. Snap! They are published.
Others have a longer, more convoluted route. They start writing small pieces for magazines, then go on to writing longer pieces. Maybe they decide to write for testing companies, do freelance pieces for educational journals, write technical books. Then they decide to do work-for-hire pieces for educational publishers and some small e-book presses. Finally, they get to trade publishing and get a few projects there. Every path to publication is individual to the person. And whatever way you choose to do it, should make you as proud as that first piece of crayon art that you present to your parent.
4. Keep a Happy Attitude
Translation: Don't let the rejections get you down
Being a writer can be brutal. You need a few layers of thick, tough, skin to handle the rejections and criticisms that you will experience. But don't let the rejections get you down. Everyone gets them. Even Jane Yolen, the award-winning author of over 300 books, has also experienced rejections. As she says, “Writers never get used to rejections...” And after a certain amount of frustration and introspection, Jane does the only thing possible, “turned right around and sent the little picture books off again.”
So take the time to LEARN from your rejections. Dissect them. Look at what the person is saying about your piece. What is missing? How can you improve it. If there is nothing helpful, move on. But don't give up!
Perserverance is key to making it in this business, and to getting through an entire day of kindergarten without a nap!
5. Share your Toys
Translation: Pay it forward
When you do finally make it big, share what you have learned. My journey to get published was a long one and like most of you, it was filled with ups and downs. But there was one person who helped me to break into the publishing world. A very widely published author who took the time to show me how I could use my talents as a science teacher to write books for kids-- about science!
I was so thrilled that she took the time to show me her path. So when Mira asked me to help create the course, Writing for Love and Money, I said a resounding YES! This would be the way for me to share with others all of the information that I'd learned on my journey and hopefully help them to begin their own publishing journey.
We hope that you will consider joining us on this path to publishing. The journey we will take together in this four week course will be well worth the effort.
Check out the link to the course here:
Let me leave you with one final piece of information: Whether you are starting your first day in kindergarten or as an adult on the path to becoming a published author
Remember this: The journey you set forth on is your own. And OWN it you should!
That’s what we will show you in the class, that however you choose to begin your publishing path, no way is the wrong way. As long as you hang in there and persevere, you WILL get there!
Jennifer Swanson is the award-winning author of over 20 books for children. You can read more about her at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com
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