Writing Advice to my Younger Self

As you may know, I'm doing a hashtag challenge on Instagram called #junelitwrit. (Thank you to @sarahelizabethwriter, @quillmistress, @tyffany.h, @pagewitch, @becky_moynihan, @the_slp_reads, @bobaloolas_art, @blogherosix, @writerdaniellemichael for hosting the challenge! There's a #julylitwrit coming up too if you'd like to follow!) Yesterday's challenge was "Writing Advice I Would Give my Younger Self."I started typing and quickly realized it would make an excellent blog post, mostly because I have way too much to say than will fit in an Instagram photo caption!My Younger Self (2008 Version)So, younger Melissa, if this post somehow makes it back to 2008, please heed my advice. Get tons more sleep, eat better (Paleo will help), start doing yoga, and take care of your skin. And, when it comes to your writing, do all these things:

WRITE

It doesn’t matter how bad it is, how few words get on the page, or how much you know you’ll just end up deleting later, write as much as you can and as often as you can. It's the only way you'll get better at it.

BE BRAVE

Write what seems true to you, and not what everyone else says you should write about. (Even the, er . . . intimate scenes. What's true to you will surprise you. Dig deep and figure it out.) Then don’t be afraid to share it with the world. Be you, and do it relentlessly.

EDIT RUTHLESSLY

You’ll learn this later, but it will help if you get it now. Get rid of all unnecessary words. They will probably be your favorite. Cut them anyway. If you can convey what you want to say in two words instead of ten, cut those eight words. And don’t cry about it. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger your writing is. Trust me. Also, get rid of like 93% of your adverbs.

GIVE YOURSELF GRACE

Your writing won’t be perfect, but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be exactly what it turns out to be. And if a few typos make it into print, or you obsess over how you could’ve written that one part a little bit better, just know you’ll make it better with the next book and let the first one be. Imperfection shows vulnerability, an essential quality of being a true creative.

BE AUTHENTIC

I mean, you’re an INFJ, so it mostly comes naturally for you, but share more than you think is comfortable. No one ever made history from their comfort zone.

SHOW NOT TELL

You’ll understand this fairly early on, but it will save you tons of editing if you get it sooner. (And read "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King right now.) But seriously. Think of ways to visualize facial expressions, how it physically feels when someone breaks your heart, what another person may do and look like when they’re surprised. Then describe them. Readers are smart; don’t talk down to them. Let their imagination fill in the rest — they’re up to the challenge, I promise. And they’ll probably love you for it.

KEEP YOUR FOOT ON THE GAS

If you’re bored reading a scene, your reader will close the book and probably never pick it up again. So if it doesn’t serve the story in some way, get rid of it. Make this your mantra: WHEN IT DOUBT, CUT IT OUT. Even if there’s one little tidbit that’s vital to the story but the rest of the scene is worthless — EVEN IF IT’S YOUR FAVORITE SCENE — get rid of it, and put the tidbit elsewhere. Or maybe you really don't need that tidbit at all.

Always ask yourself, with EVERY. SINGLE. WORD.: "Do I REALLY need this?" If not, and you're being brutally honest, get rid of it. Then you'll be able to keep the story moving and keep the reader turning the page. It's what you really want, I know. Remember, I was you like ten years ago. I've got you.

CONNECT WITH AS MANY OTHER WRITERS AS POSSIBLE

This one will be hard for you. I remember well. You can whine and say you don't need anyone, but you're really just throwing a temper tantrum. Because TOUGH LOVE. Get out there, make friends, join a community of like-minded writers, authors, and creatives who will support you, lift you up, and encourage you and your passions like no one else can. I don't even remember what was available to you in 2008 — was it MySpace? And also Facebook, of course — but connect early and often. Your future self (ME) will thank you. So will your follower stats.

CHANGE YOUR TITLE

Okay, this one you'll figure out, and it will be okay. But there's already a book called "The Codex" so change it now. Spoiler: It should be called "The Secret of the Codex", which you know is way better.

STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER AUTHORS

Their methods are not your methods, and that's okay. You can write in frenetic spurts then go days without writing, and you will survive. Just don't go years without writing, like I did. You'll have some life stuff to work through, and it will be tough, but it will get better, and you'll be such a better person for it, but don't stop writing. I think writing would've helped me through it more quickly. But maybe not.Point is, if you write any and every spare moment and never have time to read, then read every spare moment because the book you're reading is really good, that's okay. Which leads me to my final point.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY

Oh, girl. This one's going to be SO HARD for you. But trust me — the journey is the most important part of the process. I know you don't get it. I know you probably can't understand. But believe me, you need the journey you're on to get you to the place where you become me, the person who is finally releasing that book that God gave us over the last ten years. Because the person you become on the journey is much more important than arriving at the destination. I'm older, I have more wrinkles than you, and we have been through a lot. I'm not perfect — you already know that — but I'm happy with who this journey has made me. Things will get better, you'll figure things out, and you'll recover from the mistakes you made. Life won't be perfect, but it will be good.Trust me.<3 Melissa *This page may contain affiliate links, which means if you use those links to make a purchase, I receive a commission at no extra cost to you.*