Sharon Lynn’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her Cotswold Crime series will debut in December 2022 with Death Takes a Bath. You can find out more about her on her website, or by clicking here, see her stories here, and read her last post here.
As many of you know, I am a college professor in my non-writing life. I was asked to do a presentation on Why Writing Is My Passion to the university staff and faculty, and as I created the slide deck, I discovered important lessons that writing has taught me.
1. Perseverance. Death Takes a Bath: A Cotswold Crimes Mystery is the third novel I’ve written and the first to be published. I received ninety-eight rejections before landing a 3-book deal with an option for two more. Writers can never give up in the face of denial.
2. Do what you’re willing to suffer for. The axiom is “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Which is lovely and true. But it does not push you, and it will not make you grow. For example, I love to sing and have a very pretty voice. I could possibly do something with it. But I cannot (and never could) bring myself to practice even fifteen minutes a day. However, I am willing to place my heart in the form of a draft, open and vulnerable, on a plate for an editor to tear into.
3. Practice makes better. I’m not going to say “perfect” because while I am a much better writer for all my experiences and rewrites, I still can’t spell and have no idea what a comma is. Thank you to all my proofreaders!
4. Deadlines are important. It’s one thing to write because you have a story you need to tell. It’s another to write because you have a contract that must be fulfilled. Discipline and focus are vital when writing to a deadline.
5. Push out of your comfort zone. Like many writers, I am an introvert. Conference events make me want to go to my hotel room and watch Midsomer Murders. Again. But once you publish, you need to network. And you know what? It’s awesome. I have met so many fantastic authors, readers, librarians, and bookstore owners that I wish I could go back in time and meet them all earlier. Because wow – the mystery/thriller/suspense community is amazing!
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Thanks for the excellent reminders about why we write. Two takeaways that I needed today: 1. practice makes better not perfect. I can be a perfectionist and tend to be hard on myself when I find errors, especially AFTER my work is already published! 2. Deadlines. I work better when someone or something is pushing my buttons, so viewing deadlines as helpful is better than viewing them as evil. Thanks. I love Maddie Maguire and the Cotswold Crime series. Best wishes!
Glad you found important reminders, Joy! Voltaire said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.” It’s a strange sentiment at first glance, but it is really important to remember that good is good! And striving for perfection makes me not want to publish anything.
Sharon — I love what you wrote abut deadlines:
“It’s one thing to write because you have a story you need to tell. It’s another to write because you have a contract that must be fulfilled. Discipline and focus are vital when writing to a deadline.”
Laurie, you are my role model for discipline and focus! You told me once to write every day, no matter what, and I have finally found a routine that works. Thanks for your inspiration!
Love this post, Laurie. Everything you wrote resonated with me but especially push out of your comfort zone. Public events of any kind are fun and awesome for the very reasons you state, but they drain my energy to empty. I then need rest and isolation to fill my tank. But overall…it’s all worth it, since the people I’ve met at said events are among the most wonderful in the world! Thanks for this summary.
I agree, Margaret! I am an introvert, as are many writers, and it is tough to keep signing up for panels and speaking engagements. But the mystery writing community is so supportive that I find myself enjoying events more and more.
Sharon, thanks for sharing your learning. “Push out of your comfort zone” resonates with me. Like you, I am an introvert, so I’d be watching MIdsomer Murders alongside you! That said, I’m always happy after I’ve pushed myself to do a school visit or a book signing because of the fabulous people I meet.
Isn’t it funny how different teaching a class is to visiting someone else’s class? You’re welcome to binge watch mysteries with me anytime!
Thanks for sharing. I love your comment about the supportive community of writers. We really need each other for the help, inspiration, friendship, and education we all share. And for the help with commas. The writing community is amazing.
Yes! The friends I’ve made since I started writing have been so inspirational and supportive. And as far as education – everything of yours that I read makes me a better writer!
Sharon your post rings so true! Perseverance is key, but do it because you love it! And my favorite- Practice makes better! Deadlines are one way to keep you motivated! And you’re right. This community is the best! All great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!
I’m so happy you found it helpful!
So much of this article resonates with me. I’m also an educator-turned-writer. As confident as I was in the classroom or conducting meetings, I had a learning curve when it came to giving author talks. Like you, I overcame that reticence and found that the reading and writing communities are filled with fascinating, enthusiastic, intelligent, and fun people. The writing life is spectacular!
For some reason, speaking to peers or fans is so much more nerve wracking than students! But the writing community is worth the nerves – great people!