We writers are always talking to ourselves, and many times chastising ourselves for mistakes made along the way, taking a wrong turn on our career path. But in this business, there really isn’t a wrong turn. We can spend a lot of time second-guessing ourselves but I think success depends on many things that are out of our control. Of course, your idea of success and mine could be different.
Sometimes we ache for a do-over, or at least a chance to warn or advise our younger self.
When I interview I often ask a successful writer what she or he would say if they could go back and offer wisdom to their younger self when they were first beginning. I’m paraphrasing answers and all names are withheld.
One author said he would tell himself to write to the market. That’s advice you don’t hear every day. He’s based his reasoning on hearing a number of agents say they take new clients solely on whether they can sell their books, with little consideration given to how good the book actually is.
Another best-selling author takes the opposite approach. She would tell herself to write the story that needs to be told, not the one that would please agents and editors.
We can sort of tell where these two are coming from, can’t we? Both answers sound laced with a little disappointment.
Another said she would have looked for more opportunities to interact with other writers and industry professionals, because no one else understood her dreams.
Be dogged, have the courage to write through the fears and angst that writers encounter when they write from their hearts, said another.
Wisdom spoke when one author confessed she would tell her younger self not to compare her writing or herself to other writers because someone will always have more contracts, more published books, better covers, a more coveted publisher and better sells.
When I try to visualize meeting the young me, the me with stars in her eyes who believed without a doubt she was going to become a best-selling author by the time she was 30, I think I’d just say go for it, girl. I wouldn’t want to change much and I sure wouldn’t want to discourage her.
If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were a beginning writer, what advice would you offer? And on another note, what kind of self-talk do you indulge in?