Thursday, January 9, 2014

What I wish I'd known

It was 2007.

I sat down at my computer, having experienced a divine urge to write again after many many years of doing so just for fun, never getting past chapter three of a book I'd plotted out just for kicks when I was 18.

So there I was, a wife, a mom of three young daughters, a fulltime corporate manager who worked way too many hours, and God was calling me to write?


But an idea for a new book swirled in my head and ignoring it was impossible. I wrote on lunch breaks. After the kids were in bed. On business trips in the hotel room at night.

And three months later, I typed The End on my 90,000 word Christian romance novel.

WAHOO!!! That was a fabulous feeling!

But then I realized something as I was reading back through it.

My book was HORRIBLE. I started joining writing groups and actually learning the process of writing. It was an enlightening experience!

The other day, I was thinking about what I would tell my "old" self if I could go back in time and give that newbie writer a few tips. Because it's now seven years later. I have an agent, I've traditionally published my first book and am looking to epublish my second one (a novella) later this year. I am far removed from that green writer who was writing with open abandon, not a care in the world, just wanting to tell a story.

So I thought I'd share those tips with you all today.

1.) More words does not equal better writing. You'll learn about overwriting and RUE and all those fancy writing terms later and that will explain more. But for now, just stop adding words and prepositional phrases everywhere to make things sound cool. 'Cause it doesn't sound cool.I promise.

2.) POV. Limited. Look it up. It'll save you a LOT of editing.

3.) Dream-mostly-big. Teaching your kids to follow their dreams, and being an example, is SUPER important. But not more important than giving your kids the time they need, and not to the point where they feel your dream is more important than they are. Balance, Krista. It's all about balance.

4.) Just Don't Do It. Those first two query letters you sent? The ones where you thought you were being so unique and cute and "stand-outish"? Don't send them. Because you probably would stand out. Some editors/agents will get a few GREAT laughs around the water cooler because of those letters. Save yourself the humiliation and learn how to write them first.

5.) Enjoy the ride. Later, things like deadlines and numbers and expectations will come. Don't rush so much, even though I KNOW you are super impatient. Your book will not be published anytime soon. And that's okay. You're not ready for it anyway. Just enjoy the process and have FUN.

Discussion: What would you tell your newbie writer self? Any words of wisdom looking back?

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance . She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by the fab agent, Rachelle Gardner.


Susan Francino said...

I really don't even know what I'd tell my earlier self yet... But it was great to hear your advice. :)

Sally Bradley said...

Don't sweat that it'll be years before you're published. You'll live a lot of life in that time and be a much better writer for it. That time isn't wasted.

Krista Phillips said...

Susan-- it's a hard question, I know!

Krista Phillips said...

Sally, GREAT advice!!! "Living a lot of life" is SO TRUE!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Believe it or not, the first draft may have fabulous words, but there will be many edits ahead. Each time the first novel is edited you will learn wonderful skills. Hang in there...

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Just enjoy writing. Don't lose the joy...because all the "stuff" involved in writing can steal the joy. :)

I so loved this post and I love your attitude...I always have.

Casey said...

Oh this post is so good. So. Good. But. Oh. #1. I have a hard time with that one. Yes, yes I do. Sigh.

Casey said...

Oh Sally, that advice is SO true and something I'm continually having to learn, I think. Almost on a daily basis. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I need to hear "Don't lose the joy" because I am undergoing a book being edited for publication and I feel I have lost mine somehow.
Thank you.