Friday Fives: Useful Advice

The awesome folks over at Paper Hangover post a great blog every Friday, called Friday Fives. The idea? They pick a topic of conversation every Friday and you (or me, in this case) come up with five responses to that topic and blog about it!

This weeks Friday Fives: What are FIVE pieces of useful advice you've received as an aspiring writer? (in quotes, blog posts, websites, etc.).

With that being said, here are mine:

1. Your first manuscript will not be your last. And it may also not be what grabs the attention of an agent or gets you published. Those highly connected, the extremely talented, and a few that are lucky, are usually the ones that sit down and write their very first manuscript, make some edits, send it out to the black hole for writers (AKA the slush pile), and snag an agent on their very first try! But for the real truth, ask any published author how many manuscripts they hid under their beds before they found the "one", and I'm sure the answer will surprise you. I myself? Yeah, I'm on series #3. Three completed MS's and two that are at least half-way finished. And believe me, I've made leaps and bounds from my very first attempt at writing, to where I am now.

2. Why write a second book in a series if you haven't landed anything for the first? Stemming from point #1 above, I mentioned I have three completed manuscripts (one in each of those said series), and two more MS's in two of those series, that are between halfway and two-thirds completed. And why did I bother working on a second book in a series when I've not been able to sell the first? Because you never know where the story will lead, what will flow from your fingertips as you sit at the computer, and if whatever it is you write, can be translated to any of your other pieces of work. Not to mention, as my writing has progressed, I've found some of the content in my second books, intertwining back into the first (as well as leap-frogging to some of my other stories, if they made better sense there). But most importantly, if you love your story, never stop writing it. Hey...once you've become published, those hidden treasures may be something worth digging out from that shoebox under your bed!

3. Network, network, network! Put yourself out there - you want to be a published writer someday, so don't hide behind your computer. Start a blog, join Twitter (it's a-mazing how many resources / contacts you'll meet there!), create a website, join other blogs / websites and go to conferences if you can. You never know who you'll meet - and they just might happen to know someone, who knows someone!

4. Any response is so much better than NO response! When you finally get to the querying stage and you start sending those letters out to join the masses in the slush pile, receiving any response - no matter even if it's a no - is always better than getting nothing at all! The fact that someone responded, even if it's a canned / automated response, acknowledges the fact that you, indeed, are a writer!

5. Never give up. If being a writer is what you want to be when you grow up (no matter what your age or even the fact you're in an entirely different career!), don't ever forget that. People are going to reject you. People are going to critique you. And people are going to disagree with you. And that's their right. But someone is going to say yes. Others are going to love you and what you write. And even more are going to beg you to continue writing the world you've created, because they can't bare to see it end. And that right there, is worth it to me.

So, there are my five pieces of useful advice I've received over the past few years I've put serious effort into writing. What are yours? 

A big thanks to Jen Pickrell for sharing her own Friday Fives: Useful Advice, and introducing me to the idea!