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A Few Things I Learned While Writing

Updated: Jan 1

Writing a book is a lot of work. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

The importance of an outline

I know the "panster" style works for some, but that's not for me. I had to delete many scenes from my first novel thanks to them not tying to the main plot. I've found that I can avoid this if I have an outline before I get started, even if I don't always follow that outline.

Write what calls to you

When choosing what to write, don't think about what is popular at the time. Write the story that you are passionate about, as that passion will show in your writing. Also ask yourself who you are writing for and why it matters. Put your heart into your work and remember why you started writing in the first place.

You can't please everyone

After every book I read, particularly when it is a novel I love, I like to look at the 1 and 2 star reviews for that book. Why? Because it reminds me that even if a work is amazing, it's not for everyone. It reminds me that I will not be able to please everyone with my own work either, and that's okay. Know your audience, and don't worry about the ones who are not in your audience.

Write often

Writing is a craft that grows the more you practice. Even if you can only spare a few minutes to write after the kids are in bed, make a habit of writing daily. Don't let anything hold you back or convince you that you can't do this.

It's okay to seek help

Seeking critique is critical when writing, as most people can't see their own mistakes. It wasn't until I hired help that I realized just how big my mistakes were. Family support is great, but even family won't see all your errors, as they naturally look for the good. Showing your work to those who know the craft of writing and won't hold back in their feedback will make a huge difference in the final outcome.

Never give up

While I was polishing my first book, I was discouraged about my novel having no "dark night of the soul". I told my husband my issue and how I didn't know how to fix it, and I'll never forget his reply. He said, "It sounds like you are having your own 'dark night of the soul', and after every 'dark night of the soul' comes a breakthrough." I did end up having my breakthrough right after that, and I loved my novel so much more as a result. I'm thankful to my husband for his support, without which I would not have even come close to having a novel ready for publishing. I had many moments where I wanted to call it quits, but I now have 2 completed novels and another that's almost finished. If you'd like to be notified when my books are released, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter list: I hope these tips help. To all my fellow writers, you got this! Jessica Gustafson, author of "Lady Unknown"

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