I jumped into writing one summer in my mid-twenties, figuring I could learn out how to write with a how-to manual and three months’ vacation. I checked out books from the library to learn about plotting a story, formatting a manuscript, and submitting to editors. Most of these books were terribly out of date.
I wasn’t a member of SCBWI (had never even heard of it). I didn’t really use the Internet for anything beyond email at this time. A lot of what I did was similar to stumbling around in the dark.
One of the (now) funniest mistakes I made came after I my first partial request. An editor had written, asking for three chapters. I dug through my manuscript, pulling out random chapters to send. Since I didn’t know any other writers and had never read anything about a request, I had no idea three chapters meant the first three chapters.
Now, it makes perfect sense. Then, though, I didn’t know any better. I got a form rejection within weeks.
That manuscript has found a home in my files, where it belongs.
It took me several more years of trying to tackle the writing world on my own before I discovered SCBWI, bought my own laptop (a way to end the forever excuses about why I wasn’t writing consistently), subscribed to Writer’s Digest, and started acting like a professional in the making. It was several years more before I took advantage of all the resources on the Internet.
Most have you have started off more equipped than I ever was, whether that’s due to writer friends, computer skills, or the decade when you began. To that I say, good for you. I hope your journey is a little quicker than mine has been so far.
I’d love to hear about your writing beginnings. What rookie mistakes did you make when first starting out?