Letter to a Young Writer

Dear Young Writer,

I can feel the rhythm of your heart pick up when we walk into a bookstore. The light in your eyes reflects goldfoil and gloss, your hands respectful in their discovery of story.

You have a dream to be a published author, a real one with real books tucked inside real dust covers. You can see your books lined up on shelves, facing out for all to see, a lure. They’ll be international bestsellers and you’ll be interviewed by podcast hosts that ask you “How did you survive the battle?” You’ll be inspiring a new generation of writers who would see you as their hero—someone who made it to their destination no matter how many falls you took.

Your fantasies are so vivid and empowering that you don’t stop to think about how.

How will you woo the literary agents, editors, publishers, readers?

How will you reach the tens of thousands of fans?

How will you turn your story idea into a marketable book that other people want to read?

The ego, young writer, is a damnable force.

Through all of your daydreaming of astounding success, you didn’t properly consider the journey. You just thought it would happen simply because that’s what you wanted.

Desire. It’s one of the lowest forms of emotion, when you don’t attach it to action.

I’m here to tell you, from personal experience . . .

Stop and smell the ink. Spend a day crafting the perfect sentence. Tear up your rejection letters and sprinkle them in the garden. Write an anonymous poem and post it in the local library. Read a childhood favorite. Write into something. Be brave with your words. Write for the joy of it. Make a collage of inspirational quotes. Color. Walk outside and breathe in nature. Be a mentor. Make up a word and use it. Take a dare.

Keep in your mind that you don’t get published just because you write (what you believe is) a good book. Learn about gatekeepers, obstacles, ill-meaning friends. Know that just because you love your book that doesn’t mean it will be loved by others, doesn’t mean that it is even well-written.

While there is nothing wrong with reaching for the stars, you mustn’t forget to bring along a wagon filled with your supplies.

writers must take chances alongside dreaming, like holding a sizzling sparkler
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Meet other writers. Take classes. Submit. Fail. Write again. Learn more. Grow more. Submit. Fail. Write again. Join a group. Participate in the group. Ask questions. Be heartful. Show what you know. Write with grace and daring. Be a little bit ferocious. Submit. Fail. Write again.

Open your soul. Creativity and inspiration and ideas are all around, they’re the small glimpses you catch drifting past the corner of your eye. Capture those glimpses. Nurture them and work your magic on them. More creates more. Once you have more of that good stuff, your writing journey can take off into the wild unknowns.

Are you prepared to handle the wild unknowns? Do you have your wagon, filled with supplies? Is your survival guide in hand? Do not jet off in a rush, do not let your writer life swoop by in a blur. Creativity is experience, and experience is the embracing of a happening—good, bad, and ugly.

Your writer self is flowing full and free, an effervescence of possibility.

Don’t waste a drop of it.

4 thoughts on “Letter to a Young Writer”

  1. This is great advice, Kate. “Keep in your mind that you don’t get published just because you write.” I’d like to add that one shouldn’t write only to get published. Write for the joy it brings!

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