You're a new writer just starting on your first manuscript. Or, perhaps you have an idea for a book but haven't actually started writing. And, like most people preparing to step into uncharted territory, you begin by doing some research.
How much should I write every day? What preparations should I do before I begin writing? What program should I use? Should I write in 1st person or in 3rd? Should I hire an editor? Where, how, and when should I market my book?
You're not alone. Trust me. We've all been there.
We all want to write and publish the best book we can, and the idea of putting our work before readers' eyes for the first time can be quite daunting. We scour the web for writing tips and look to veteran authors for advice.
Our questions are endless, and we quickly find that for each of our questions, there are hundreds of different answers. It's easy to become overwhelmed and confused while trying to sort through the piles of conflicting advice and attempting to make it all work.
Which brings me to the most common trap facing new writers: Taking every piece of advice to heart.
I know, I know. I'm here giving you advice about taking advice. If that isn't confusing, I don't know what is. But I don't mean for it to be, I promise!
The thing we often forget about advice is that it's being shared because it worked for that particular person. Someone might tell you that you should create detailed outlines before you begin writing because that's what works for them. That's how they get the results they need.
But it doesn't mean it's the right approach for you.
In all honesty, no two authors have the same process. We could put 10 Plotters in a room, and they would each have a different way of outlining and planning their manuscript. And none of them would be wrong. They're doing what works for them, and that's the most important thing to remember as a new writer.
If you find something that works for you which goes against others' advice, that's perfectly fine! They aren't the ones writing your book, you are! It doesn't have to work for them. It has to work for you.
So, keeping that in mind, here's my piece of advice about researching advice:
Ask your questions, do your research, and try different things, but don't be afraid to throw away the advice that didn't work for you.
Take the little bits of advice that connect with your writer brain and combine them together. Create your own process, and don't be afraid of change. Something that works for you now might not work for you later on, and that's fine!
Like the characters in our stories, our processes change and evolve with us. Embrace it, and above all, have fun!
What does your writing process look like? Have you had to throw away some advice that you've been given? I'd love to hear about your experiences. Share them in the comments below!