I found out today that an unpublished novel of mine made the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I’m in good company with 249 other novelists, but that’s beside the point. Even a smallish thing can boost validation: I’m a writer and that’s exactly where I belong.
Writing Tip for Today: Beginning, intermediate and advanced writers share a common need: to be recognized in some way. Whether it’s a published anecdote that snagged a writer’s first credit or a book that hits a bestseller list, the feeling that someone validates our blood, sweat and tears means much to all writers. We’re supposed to be altruistic, only we aren’t. Instead, writers are human. And we can validate other writers as much as we ourselves find recognition. Here are a few thoughts on encouragement:
- If you read something that touches your life, take time to write a short note to the author. I have a curious habit of writing to authors with whom I connect on a deep level. I have a tidy collection of letters from the famous (Erma Bombeck, Jackie Mitchard and Janet Finch, White Oleander) to the semi-famous (Rachel Simon, author of Riding the Bus with My Sister; Susan Shreve, the past president of the PEN Center and author of a dozen novels). These days, with social media, expressing your thoughts to an author is even easier.
- If someone in your crit group seems particularly down, reach out with a funny e-card, take that writer to lunch (keep the wine intake reasonable!) or phone the writer. Another way I like to encourage writers is to tweet, FB or blog about that person’s work–hey there’s no such thing as bad ink. Offer to write a favorable review.
- When you’re the one considering throwing in the towel, have writer friends handy with a box of tissues. Your family will NEVER understand the writing life. Go through past published pieces, awards, or even nice critiques you’ve received. Remind yourself that you were successful before and you will be again.