By Susan Kralovansky
I seem to keep finding a list of don’ts – things agents don’t like, or things editors don’t want to see, or the mistakes you don’t want to make if you want to succeed. I would like to share instead a list of Do’s that lead to success.
1. You do you. Some write first thing in the morning. Some after the kids are in bed. Some write every day, and some write after days of woolgathering. There isn’t one right way to do things so do what works best for you.
2. Do use those mentor texts. Read your favorite books. Study the beginnings and the endings. If you’re struggling with dialog, see how your favorite author handles dialogue. Study sentence structure and length. Study the page turns. See what makes the book work and why it works. Then apply everything you’ve learned to your own story.
3. Do keep yourself busy. Always be working on that next book or idea while you’re waiting to hear from that agent or editor.
4. Do be nice. Whether it’s your local writing group, your critique partner, a conference speaker, an editor or an agent - people talk, and word spreads about who’s great to work with and who’s not.
5. Do realize that feedback helps. You want your piece to be loved. You want to be told it’s perfect. But, trust your readers to find the imperfections. Accept the suggestions you think are valid, recognize the ones that you’ve heard more than once. Be open to criticism—it will make you a better writer.
6. Do cover the basics: Good spelling and sound grammar are what keeps that great story out of the recycling bin.
7. Do celebrate. Whether it’s another writer’s success or yours - take time to celebrate that new agent, book release, or even a few pages finished. Get up from that desk, enjoy the success and celebrate.
8. Do read. Read. Read. Read. Read the type of things your write and read books on the craft of writing.
9. Do give up … just for a little bit. Sometimes, your idea just isn’t working. Rather than spending weeks anguishing over solutions you can’t find, put it away. Remember Step 3? Keep yourself busy, move on to the next project, and in a month, a year, or even six years you can pull it out and possibly come up with the perfect solution to your problem.
Maybe you have your own Do’s that are part of your process. I’d love to hear them in the comments. Happy writing!
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