Should you write badly, or not write at all? 🤔
Welcome to the sixth edition of Chapter Break, a newsletter with writing and publishing insights put together by me, your friendly neighborhood book editor! If you haven’t subscribed yet, join our amazing community of 2,600+ storytellers and story lovers by subscribing here:
Writing can be a cruel pursuit sometimes.
It’s easy to feel like writing is pointless, especially if you’re dealing with writer’s block, working on the fifteenth draft of your novel, or submitting query after query to no response. After all, you’re putting your blood, sweat, and tears on the line!
But finishing a novel is an incredible accomplishment, no matter your experience level.
Even prolific authors run into these issues — it’s just a part of being a writer. One of the most important qualities successful authors have is the drive to consistently write, edit, and submit — even (perhaps especially) on those days when it feels like a slog.
In today’s interview, bestselling author Liz Lawson delves into her mindset when it comes to persevering through doubt and deadlines.
I hope you enjoy it. Please forward it to anyone who might find it interesting!
OUR SPECIAL GUEST TODAY IS…
New York Times bestselling novelist
Her latest novel, The Agathas, is available now via all major retailers! Plus, the sequel is forthcoming summer 2023.
What is the most memorable writing tip or technique that you have heard, and how did it influence your process?
"A first draft is not meant to be perfect." It's still a hard sentiment for me to believe, but the more I write (particularly, the more I write on deadline), the more I find it's important to keep in the forefront of my mind.
It's easy, while drafting, to get bogged down trying to make your first draft error-free, but that's not the point of it — the point is to find your story, fall in love with your characters, and (most importantly!) get to THE END, so you have a story down on the page to work with. If you spend all your time tinkering with things, you'll never reach that point, and it's one of the most gratifying and significant moments of writing a book.
How did you get your literary agent? What was the querying process like for you?
The first book I ever drafted never saw the light of day, but the second, I queried. I got hundreds of agent rejections on that one... a bunch of full requests, but rejections off of those, too. It was hard, particularly at first, to hear so many NOs, but in the long run that's part of the journey — and will help you long term once you publish, because you're always going to get rejected by someone. No book is universally loved.
That said, I moved on from that book and wrote something new, and the querying process was different that time — I queried about 20 agents, got full requests (and some rejections!) quickly and ended up accepting a R&R (Revise & Resubmit) from my dream agency. I worked for 3 months revising it and resubmitted, and luckily my agent liked what I had done, because she offered to represent me. Sometimes it takes more than one (or two!) books to get an agent, and the best thing you can do is start writing the next thing. You're only going to get better the more you write.
Querying for a while with no response? Here are tips on what to do next.
What is one thing you wish you had known about the publishing process before going through it yourself?
I wish I had known that not every book is a BIG book. Many, many books that release are never universally known (actually, most of them are not) and it's rare to have one (nevertheless multiple) that sells even close to that level. I wish I had known so I could have managed my expectations a little better.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a writer who aspires to be published?
Keep going!! Most authors I know didn't get their agent off the first book they wrote. Most people have to write multiple things, and hone their craft, before getting to a point where they get an agent (who then, hopefully, sells your book)!
How do you personally get over writer's block?
Honestly, it depends if I'm on deadline. If I'm not, I'll be gracious with myself, maybe give myself the day off from pounding my head against my draft. If I AM, though, well, I just force myself to power through, even if what I write is garbage (which it sometimes is). Better to have bad words down on the page that can be fixed once you remember how to write again, than no words at all!
Thanks so much for reading!
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