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Goodreads asked Brian Myhre:

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Brian Myhre Stolen and paraphrased from Stephen King, but it's true:

Read. Read a lot. Then write. Write a lot. Write a million words before you consider yourself ready to start writing a story to submit for publication. Only then should you start writing something you want to publish. Don't submit anything, don't find an agent, don't go to a publishing house. Definitely don't go to a vanity publisher and spend money to put your book out before it's ready.

When you've written a million words, have written a story that you think is ready to publish, and are ready to take your writing out into the world, go get feedback from people. Get a beta reader. Not a friend who says "this is awesome" but someone who will tell you "on page 7, they say this, but 10 pages later they change their tune. Why is that?" Work with them. LISTEN to them. Take what they say and use it. Improve your craft.

Edit. Edit four or five times through. Find all of the mistakes. Tweak until your words say exactly what you want them to. Spell them all correctly. Then edit one more time to make sure you caught most of what's wrong. Then you are ready to start submitting to publishers and agents.

When you are ready to start submitting to agents, expect to fail. Expect to fail a lot. We're talking anywhere from 5 to 100 nos before your first yes. We're also talking 5 nos on your second work, even after your first yes. No one gets Harry Potter published on the first try unless they know someone in the business or have been touched by a muse with the perfect story. You can't expect to be that person, because expecting to be different will only hurt your ego later.

Expect your ego to get kicked around like a redheaded stepchild. You may think your work is awesome. Your friends and beta readers may think it's awesome. Jack Black might read it and say "Skadoosh!" That doesn't mean that an agent or publishing house wants to pick it up and publish it. This is a business. People make business decisions in the publishing industry, not just emotional ones. It's not personal. They don't hate you. They just don't want to invest thousands of dollars and dozens of hours on something they personally don't think is going to get them a return for their investment. The very fact that they don't hate you, but make decisions based on their wallet and not your ego is what is going to hurt your ego. Expect it. Prepare for it. Overcome it when it happens.

Keep trying. Even when your ego is bruised and battered, even when you feel like a failure and that no one likes anything you've ever written, keep writing. This is the practice round. Let yourself practice. Let yourself learn. Let yourself fail. Just don't quit. Write when you have time. Write when you don't have time. Write when you are inspired. Write when you're not inspired but have a few minutes to spare.

Then, when you have done all of that: Go read. Read a lot. Then write. Write a lot.


"You know what I did after I wrote my first novel? I shut up and wrote twenty-three more." -Richard Connelly, on ABC's Castle

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