Miss Matisse: Yes, taking too much time off can throw you for a loop! If you have the time I’d add that as a writer you should jot down your ideas while you can so you don’t forget them later or as you go along. What advice do you have for others who are experienced, but struggling in the writing field/industry?
Digger Cartwright: I think a lot of people sit down to write thinking that they have the ability to do so. Writing isn’t easy. It’s very difficult to be creative, come up with a storyline, develop characters, and write a book that flows well, is coherent, and interesting. If you’re struggling with the writing process itself, get some mentoring or take some writing classes. There are plenty of resources available for aspiring writers to help polish their storytelling abilities which helps translate into increased opportunities for the book.
I like to have testers, for example. It has really helped me over the years. I run a storyline and synopsis by a group of people to see if it piques their interest. Once I have a draft of the story done, I’ll let them read it and see what they think. I welcome constructive criticism. They may come back with something that I hadn’t thought of as the author in terms of how it impacts the readers’ experience. In reality, the work product you’re putting out may or may not be interesting to the readers.
I always encourage aspiring writers to make sure they have great editors. Not every manuscript is going to be perfect. I have two or three editors read each book, and inevitably some things escape all of them—typos or incorrect references, etc. It’s human nature, but you’ve got to strive for perfection and produce a manuscript that is as flawless as possible. A manuscript filled with one mistake after another is not appealing to the readers. They’ll let the occasional typo slide, but if you’re work is overrun with mistakes, incorrect grammar, etc, they’ll not look favorably upon that and they’ll let you know about it.
And don’t let the critics get to you. You’re always going to have critics who won’t like what you do no matter what. Don’t let them get to you. Constructive criticism is something that you need to listen to and take seriously. Criticism from someone who has never written a book and who is just jealous of your accomplishment isn’t usually very valuable. Don’t let it get under your skin. You’ve got to have thick skin. If you’re worrying about satisfying someone living in their parents’ basement playing video games and criticizing your work, you’ll be your own worst enemy.