I just found out recently that one of my short stories was picked up for an anthology which will be coming out sometime at the end of the year. It was a good boost especially since I’m going through the long, arduous process of looking for an agent for my novel, The Eighth Circle.
I mention that, not so much to give myself a pat on the back–though I did–but to remind everyone that once you finish your novel, you should start working on another project immediately. The submission process–unless you know an agent, have an agent, or know someone who can get you an agent–is a tough, soul numbing process. Your book needs to be polished, and I don’t mean you write it once and run through spell check. Just because your friends think it’s the best thing ever doesn’t mean an agent will. Read it and look for reasons not to like it. If you can’t do it yourself (and most people can’t), get an editor.
It still may be rejected. Many times. That’s why you should always have another project in the works. Another novel. A short story. Some flash fiction. You should always be writing.
The simple reason is the more you write, the better writer you’ll become.
It won’t hurt to read either. Pick a genre you like by an author you like. Analyze the writing. What do you like about it? What makes the characters interesting? Why is the plot compelling? What about this authors style is unique? What can you learn from this author?
Don’t try to copy, but do try to absorb. It won’t hurt to look at other genres. A well written book is a well written book. Sometimes you can learn a great deal about writing by reading outside your favorite genre. For instance, I’m not a huge science fiction buff, but I love H.G Wells. The point is, if you read great writing, you’ll begin to see how talented writers use words.
Finally, you should keep writing, because the more you do it, the easier it gets. Your first novel is always the hardest. The second will be a little easier. Just don’t get discouraged.
I think it’s like learning to ride a bike, though to be honest, the last time I did that, I ran into a bread truck.
I’ll stick with my keyboard instead.