(A late) Writing Tip Wednesday: Practice Manuscripts.

*So sorry that this is a day late, but better late than never, right?

The first novel you write may never get published. That’s hard news to hear for those of you out there working on your first novel, I mean, you put so much effort into writing that novel, months or years of hard work, how can it be for nothing? Well it’s not for nothing, it helps you to develop into a better writer.
The first book/s you write may be terrible and that’s OK. Writing is a craft, and even though you might have the natural talent, it is still something that has to be learnt and honed. We writers learn by writing. I write a whole better now than I did when I was first starting out at 16. You need to find your voice and style and practice manuscripts help you to do that.

Now I know that not every writer’s first manuscript turns out to be their practice manuscript, some writers sell the first novel they write and maybe you will too, but a lot of them don’t.

YA author Brodi Ashton wrote for 10 years before she wrote and sold Everneath.

YA author Elizabeth Norris wrote for fifteen years and wrote a whopping 28 books before she wrote and sold Unravelling.

YA author Beth Revis wrote 10 books before she wrote and sold Across the Universe.

And the lovely Maggie Stiefvater, who I adore because she is so honest and open about her writing experience, confesses to writing terrible books all the time when she first started writing. By the time she was in college she had over 30 manuscripts in varying forms laying around. She didn’t get published until she wrote something good, and you won’t either.

If New York Times Best Selling authors can write horrible books when they are first starting out then it’s OK if you do too. Don’t be hard on your self if that first book your write gets rejected by every agent, just keep writing more books, don’t put all your eggs in the one basket as they say.

And just because it starts off terrible doesn’t mean it has to stay terrible, once you are a better writer you might want to go back and rewrite that first manuscript. There may be gold, even if its a minute amount, in that first manuscript that you might want to dig out. One of the terrible first books Maggie Stiefvater wrote was The Dream Thieves, and fans of hers would know that that is the second book soon to be released in her Raven Cycle series. She dug out the gold and took it and made a good manuscript out of it.
The first official book I wrote at sixteen wasn’t very good at all. I thought it was complete at 25,000 words, it was full of clichéd characters and I had nearly every guy the female protagonist met fall in love with her. But I love the bare essence of the plot and decided to re-write it a couple of years ago and now I’m working on it again because it still needs work on some plot holes. I dug out the gold and used it and hopefully when it is really ready I’ll be able to sell it.

You only become a good writer by two things: Reading a lot and writing a lot. So go a head and suck and be proud of it, write 10, 20, 30 sucky manuscripts because the next one just might be brilliant. You can take all the knowledge you have learnt from writing all those bad manuscripts and use it to write a good one. If you have the talent you just have to believe in yourself and not give up. Imagine if Brodi or Elizabeth or Beth or Maggie had given up? We wouldn’t have their fantastic stories to read today, and if you give up, the world won’t have yours! So keep writing.

I loved to hear your terrible manuscripts stories if your brave enough to share.

Happy writing 🙂


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