The Most Important Writing Lesson I’ve Learned (Thus Far)

Over the past couple of days I’ve been working on some edits and reformatting the electronic versions of my two completed novels. In doing so, I’ve noticed how much my writing has grown in the past few years.

I realize part of the growth process has happened due to growing older and maturing. After all,  I started my first novel Finding Justus when I was twenty-two. Now, ten years later, I would like to think I’ve moved beyond novel writing novice, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be in my writing (are any of us there?).

This week I’ve called upon a piece of advice I received from one of my favorite college professors, who just happens to be mystery author Marty Ambrose.  Back when she was my professor, I went to her for guidance on writing. When she learned I wanted to be a fiction writer she gave me several tips and some advice.

The most important thing she told me was that when you’re starting out as a novelist, you have to write a first book in order to learn how to write a book.

Throughout the years that one sentence has really stuck with me, but I have a new understanding of how true her words are, especially for authors going the self-publishing route. For us indie authors, a lot of what we do in the beginning is trial and error, or maybe that’s just been the case for me.

I can appreciate the growing pains I went through to get where I am today, I say appreciate mainly because, well, I’m just downright giddy that I’ll never have to go through the torment and self-doubt of writing a first book again.

That’s not to say I don’t have self-doubt, I still have days where I think “What am I doing? Who’s going to want to read this?” (don’t we all think that from time to time?)

As a novelist, I’m still a work-in-progress, I honestly don’t feel like I’ll ever be “done”, hence the reason for the parenthetic thus far tacked onto today’s article title. I’ll always approach fiction writing with a combination of “beginner’s mind” and the desire to tell a story.

You now know what my most important lesson learned is, I’d love to hear from you! What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever given or gotten? Leave me a comment or reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or email: amanda@amandabretz.com