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What’s One Piece of Advice You’d Give a Struggling Writer

By Patricia Bradley

If you know me, you know I won’t stop at one. ? But first, I want to tell you a little story. (I know, no backstory for the first 50 pages, but I’m going to break the rules just this once.)

The year I turned 35, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. One night as I stared at the ceiling, a man appeared in my mind. He was looking out a window on a grayish, smokestack filled scene. He turned to me and said, “This is not the way I thought it would end.”

For the next few nights, he told me his life’s story. From that point on, a desire to write took root in my heart, and I began the long process of learning the craft.

It was long because I kept making the same mistakes.

Why?

Because I was isolated. It was in the age before the Internet, and I didn’t know anyone who wrote. I didn’t have a critique partner so no one pointed out that I couldn’t have three POVs in the same scene (Head hopping). No one to tell me I was telling rather than showing.

There were some very good writing books out there, but they were waaaaay over my head. And in the 90s there were no contests like the Genesis to enter your stories for feedback.

Writers nowadays don’t have that excuse. With the World Wide Web, you can connect with other writers. There are wonderful on-line teaching groups, like the ACFW course and My Book Therapy. I know there are others, but these two are the ones I’m familiar with.

There are great writing books out there that are written so even the novice writer can understand. Ask any author what craft book is on their shelves?

Here’s a list of a few of mine:

Kiss and Tell by Susan May Warren (I actually have all the craft books Susan has written)
Plot & Structure; Super Structure by James Scott Bell (Same with JSB)
Write Away by Elizabeth George
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
How to Write a Novel using the Snowflake by Randy Ingermanson

Thankfully, in 2010 I joined ACFW and through this wonderful organization, I made connections. One of those connections was Susan May Warren and My Book Therapy. On Monday night chats and at the Deep Thinker retreats, I discovered all the things I was doing wrong, and the things I was doing right were reinforced.

After two years of honing the craft, I attended the 2012 ACFW Conference in Dallas as an agented, Genesis finalist. While I was there, I learned the story that I’d been working on for over five years was going to Revell’s pub board. And, thirty-three years after I realized I wanted to write, my first novel was published. This month I’m working on my seventh contracted book.

So, what’s the point of my post?

I have several:

• Don’t give up. What if I had given up at year 32?
• Join ACFW
• Learn the craft
• Find a critique partner
• Make connections
• Invest in your writing career by going to conferences
• Take classes on writing by successful authors

So, what are you waiting for? Go craft a beautiful story and send it out!

If you have any additional suggestions, leave them in the comment box, please.

Pat BradleyPatricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and loves to write romance and suspense with a twist of romance. Patricia’s books include the Logan Point series – Shadows of the Past, A Promise to Protect, and Gone Without a Trace. She has also written two sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming, Matthew’s Choice which is available on Amazon and The Christmas Campaign, available in November. Her workshops on writing include two online courses with American Christian Fiction Writers and workshops at the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference in Collierville, TN. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.

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5 Responses to What’s One Piece of Advice You’d Give a Struggling Writer

  1. inspiring – thank you!

  2. So glad it inspired you, Christen.

  3. Elaine Stock says:

    As for connecting with others, you’ve been a primary source/inspiration for me on not giving up. Heartfelt thanks!

  4. Aww! Thanks, Elaine. I’m so glad you didn’t give up. You are a good writer and your stories are great!

  5. Barbara Fox says:

    It so much fun to grow up and find out you can begin your education! I’m thrilled by the opportunities that are available to learn more about writing and to approach it as a skill as opposed to just something that pours out of me. It’s easy to become isolated when you enjoy what you do. It’s also easy, I think, to become isolated when you’re on the internet thinking you’re interacting with people. I’m so looking forward to attending my first conference (learning how advanced I need to be before I stick my toe in the water) and also to connecting with a critique partner. Your post is loaded with helpful advice and firm direction. Thank you, Thank you!