11. ...but only at the beginning. Look: if you just want validation and sugar and sweetness, that's okay. But you need to admit it to yourself, and you need to admit that you don't actually want to sell anything. Thanks to the Internet, you can have a wide audience by opening a website, and that can be wonderful and fulfilling, and you won't ever have to listen to a single harsh word. There is nothing wrong with that. I post a lot of stuff online that I don't necessarily feel like being critiqued on. Those pieces say 'be gentle,' and their safe word is 'no.' If what you want is to improve as a writer, however, and if you're looking to publish someday, change 'be gentle' to 'bring it on,' and get ready to suffer for your art.
12. Good critique targets the text, not the author. Good
critique says 'this is sloppy and needs tightening,' or 'I don't think
this word works here,' or 'I really don't understand the pacing in this
scene.' Bad critique says 'wow, you really turned the suck knob to
eleven on this one' or 'why don't you do something you're good at?'.
Learn to tell the difference. Don't reject critique because it's harsh
on the text; don't seek out critique that's going to make you lose the
will to improve. It's a hard balance to strike. It can take a long
time. It's absolutely worth it.
13. Read outside your preferred genres. I'm an old-school horror
girl. I love fantasy and funny genre fiction. I read more books on
epidemics than anyone outside the CDC really needs to. But that won't
make me grow, so I also read trashy crime thrillers and westerns, hard
science fiction and romances, and pretty much anything with a plot that
looks like it might hold my interest. Seeing what they're doing outside
your comfort zone will help you understand what's inside your comfort
zone much, much better.
14. Even if you're not publishing right now -- even if you're
just hoping to publish someday -- make sure you're reading as much as
you can of the genres where you're writing or planning to write. The
line between 'new and hot' and 'played-out and cliche' is a thin one,
and while I'm not saying 'throw away your baby because somebody else got
there first,' you need to know where that line is at any given moment,
because you need to be able to defend your work from an informed
15. Write what you want to write. I don't care if it's a total
cliche, if that's honestly what you want to do, do it. You may never
get it published. You may strike it big and wind up in a position to
publish all your trunk novels. Either way, refusing to write what you
love just because it's not commercial enough is going to do nothing but
turn you bitter and angry at the whole industry, and that's no good for