Ah, writing. Such a simple task. You have your characters, know your plot, and created a fabulous outline, complete with various conflicts to work into the story. That’s all you need for this journey . . . right?
When I first dipped my toes into writing fiction, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I did, as many new writers do, but it didn’t take long to discover just how wrong I was. Writing techniques eluded me, and what limited resources I did have (the World Wide Web was just in its infancy at the time) held various conflicting pieces of advice. To top it off, I had no clue who my audience was, nor had I established a strong voice and sense of self as a writer.
The result? Apart from the fact that I was only a teenager and had limited experience in the field, inevitable failure lurked just around the corner. Broken scenes, random snippets, and straight-up garbage filled each page, because I was clueless about the complex layers needed to make each story worthy of publishing. Revision wasn’t even in my vocabulary, sending me spinning in a never-ending cycle of write, trash, repeat.
Since then, I've gained considerable experience. I obtained a degree in professional writing, took additional courses in writing, editing, and poetry, published a few books, joined a critique group, and have found a writing group full of amazing people going through the same journey. I now know exactly who I am as a writer, and I know that my audience consists of young adults and adults, specifically those who are drawn to paranormal and supernatural stories, coming-of-age books, and emotional women’s fiction pieces. I know I’m a serial writer who loves short stories and hates being confined by genre. For me, falling outside the conventional realm of publishing isn’t the end of the world. It’s what makes me, me. I have my niche, I know my strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, I’ve learned how to GROW as a writer.
Anyone who’s written a book will tell you it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Rivers of blood, sweat, and tears go into making a good book great. At the heart of every fabulous story is a passionate writer who doesn’t give up. Someone who takes the time to research, prepare, and often plan so many of the details you see on those final pages. And it all starts with knowing your audience. If you don't know your target readers are, I guarantee you will find yourself in my shoes, spinning in circles, eventually leading you to give up on the book that you've been trying to write for ages, or, you'll produce a piece of drivel you publish way too early, only to find out that you have to start all over.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Take the time to find your voice. Get to know your audience. It’s not a race to see how quickly you can publish your book or how many pieces you can finish in a year. Writing is a skill that takes time, practice, and a LOT of dedication. But it’s worth it—you’re worth it. And so is your story.