I’ve had a few emails of late from people asking advice about the business of writing. I never blog about actual writing, cos I think it’s a ‘find your own way’ kind of trade, and more than that there are people out there better at it than me…ask them.
The only advice I would give new writers is more general and as follows:
1 – Don’t waste time on envy. You’re only in competition with yourself. It’s a long road and just use others’ successes to inspire you or make you raise your game. It’s a happier way to live. I’m a believer in sharing. I’ve got people in with my agent who’ve come away with better deals than me. Am I envious? No. Good on ’em. I always put people I know who are need of a break in touch with my editors and agents. It might come to something, it might not, but I’m not in competition with them. I’m in competition with me, see? Plus, being nice feels good. Even for a wicked woman like me.
2 – There is no easy road. This is a tough business. So toughen up. Take the knocks and the criticisms. Listen. Watch. Learn.
3 – Be charming. Charm goes a long way. It won’t get you a deal, but it will get you remembered for when you’ve got something dealworthy.
4 – And finally – always remember that the trick is not in getting published (tough as that is), it’s in staying published. Embrace ‘the fear’. It keeps you working harder and smarter.
All of which is probably better than the advice I used to give the school kids I taught which mainly involved ‘Everyone has favourites. Get over it.’ and on Sports day, ‘Just remember. Second Place is First loser.’