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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you could send a letter back in time to the you who was writing the first sentence of your first book, what would it say? Would it be a pat on the back, a slap on the head, or just a reminder to buckle up for a long ride? And, more than that, would it actually have changed anything?

I think mine would be quick and easy. "Have fun with what you do, find a good editor, and just keep typing, even if the words don't come out right the first time. Also, the people you talk to at publishing companies are probably going to be dweebs and know-it-alls."

Who knows if it would have changed a lot, but it sure would have saved me a lot of somewhat frustrating time spent talking to publishers because I guess I assumed that that's what you do.
 

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I would tell myself to drop out of college, forget being a lawyer, then forget being a teacher after that and just write and publish when KDP was still new. I would also tell myself to ignore every moment of self-doubt and keep it pushing. Have fun with it would be good advice too, I need to remember that one even in the present lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would say, "Don't move away from your 1st choice genre. Eventually, it will pay off, but you will be a lot further forward if you stick with it instead of chasing other genres and ideas that are not really you!"
That's a really good one. At the time it can be a lot harder to say "I need to stick with one thing" rather than "I need to change it up". I definitely do it a lot. I guess it makes sense to assume that a change will make things better, but sometimes the first road is the good road.

And, I'm glad that it's paying off for you! Getting your genre to work for you sounds kinda like the ideal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would tell myself to drop out of college, forget being a lawyer, then forget being a teacher after that and just write and publish when KDP was still new. I would also tell myself to ignore every moment of self-doubt and keep it pushing. Have fun with it would be good advice too, I need to remember that one even in the present lol.
I think about that sometimes too. College seemed so important at the time, but I feel like it mostly taught me that there's a level of stress that's not worth it. Was a a great GPA worth being mad all the time? Took me four years to figure out, nah, not really.

And yeah, self doubt. I actually have mixed feelings about self doubt. I'm always glad to push past it and get things done, but I think it can also help on the editing table. Things might get weird if I never had any self doubt. But I always think that I get a little better with how realistic I let my doubts be. Honing in on what is actually bad and what you might doubt yourself for but isn't bad is a real hard thing to learn. Or at least that's how I feel sometimes.
 

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Yeah, I think publishing a few years earlier would have been great. But I was writing my first book in high school... So I'm glad I waited until 2014.

Now, if I could have published a highly commerical book in 2014... That would have been something.

I'm happy where I am now, but it would have been nice to save myself the pain of learning what commercial is not through failure. I don't think I could have leaned it another way though. I'm sure past Crystal would ignore the letter. Too stubborn.
 

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I think about that sometimes too. College seemed so important at the time, but I feel like it mostly taught me that there's a level of stress that's not worth it. Was a a great GPA worth being mad all the time? Took me four years to figure out, nah, not really.

And yeah, self doubt. I actually have mixed feelings about self doubt. I'm always glad to push past it and get things done, but I think it can also help on the editing table. Things might get weird if I never had any self doubt. But I always think that I get a little better with how realistic I let my doubts be. Honing in on what is actually bad and what you might doubt yourself for but isn't bad is a real hard thing to learn. Or at least that's how I feel sometimes.
For me it was time management lol, and a very expensive master class looking back. But I'm sure I'm minimizing how it shaped me.

If I could turn it off and on like a light switch I'd be good, because you're right, there's a time and a place where it's dead useful!
 

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I'm sure past Crystal would ignore the letter. Too stubborn.
Now that you mention it, younger me wouldn't have listened either. People told me all sorts of stuff that turned out to be very wise, prophetic even, but it said uselessly on the back burner in my brain.

The time in my life where I thought I knew the most really was the time I knew the least lol.
 

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Oh God... Ha! I've wasted SO many years thinking I was stuck, when all it would have taken would have been more persistence and more conscientiousness.

Like Crystal, I'm (mostly) happy where I am now, but if I were to give younger me advice, it'd be: "Keep writing, no matter what. If you get stuck, switch to a different project. Write every day and always at (roughly) the same time. And stop getting distracted by squirrels."

Well OK, I wouldn't have understood the squirrel bit back then LMAO, but yeah.

Would I have listened? I dunno. Maybe. Probably? Who knows. It's not like I hadn't heard hundreds of times that you needed to write everyday. I'd even tried it and failed a few times. My mistake was to not wait longer. I'd give up too quickly when the words wouldn't come.

I'm in a better place now, but I've lost so many years... Ah well.

Moving on ;)
 

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Oh God... Ha! I've wasted SO many years thinking I was stuck, when all it would have taken would have been more persistence and more conscientiousness.

Like Crystal, I'm (mostly) happy where I am now, but if I were to give younger me advice, it'd be: "Keep writing, no matter what. If you get stuck, switch to a different project. Write every day and always at (roughly) the same time. And stop getting distracted by squirrels."

Well OK, I wouldn't have understood the squirrel bit back then LMAO, but yeah.

Would I have listened? I dunno. Maybe. Probably? Who knows. It's not like I hadn't heard hundreds of times that you needed to write everyday. I'd even tried it and failed a few times. My mistake was to not wait longer. I'd give up too quickly when the words wouldn't come.

I'm in a better place now, but I've lost so many years... Ah well.

Moving on ;)
If you've learned from the experience, you haven't wasted anything or any time. Consider that you gain that knowledge. There is no timeline that is correct. Read Thomas Pynchon's essay SLOW LEARNER that the intro to his collection of short stories by the same name. We all get to the place we are by some route. Nothing says another route would have been faster or more productive.
 

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If you've learned from the experience, you haven't wasted anything or any time. Consider that you gain that knowledge. There is no timeline that is correct. Read Thomas Pynchon's essay SLOW LEARNER that the intro to his collection of short stories by the same name. We all get to the place we are by some route. Nothing says another route would have been faster or more productive.
Yeah, that's true. I remember reading something somewhere (maybe even kboards) recently about how an author was giving a student advice, the guy was nodding his head but the author was frustrated cause he could see the guy wasn't getting it. Years later, the student went back to the author to tell him he'd discovered something and what he described was exactly what the author had tried to teach him LOL.

The morale in that story is that sometimes you need to experiment things yourself to really understand them. It's one thing to be told (and even understand) that you need to write everyday, and it's quite another to actually find a way to make that work for you.

So yeah, it's a process. Though sometimes I can't help but wonder how many novels I could have published by now had I got that wake up call earlier LOL.

On the plus side, self-publishing has grown quite a bit in the meantime and should make it easier to "catch up" (ie I'd never have been able to publish 1 book per month through a trad publisher).
 

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I've ignored good advice and I've ignored bad advice. There's a lot of bad advice in the writing world. And a lot of good for others but not good for you advice. That's one lesson many need to learn: different things work for different people. I don't write every day or write a thorough outline but I'm still relatively disciplined in my writing habits. I think the discipline is necessary for sustained success but it doesn't always mean writing daily or keeping a schedule or hitting a word count.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well OK, I wouldn't have understood the squirrel bit back then LMAO, but yeah.
Ha!

I've ignored good advice and I've ignored bad advice. There's a lot of bad advice in the writing world. And a lot of good for others but not good for you advice. That's one lesson many need to learn: different things work for different people. I don't write every day or write a thorough outline but I'm still relatively disciplined in my writing habits. I think the discipline is necessary for sustained success but it doesn't always mean writing daily or keeping a schedule or hitting a word count.
Definitely very true. Sometimes I really want to get the next chapter down but life is busy and I don't get to it right away. It bugs the part of me that wants to be more on a schedule of writing things, but it also gives me the advantage of giving things some time to roll around in my mind. Some of the little things that got added in that I really like are only there because I didn't always plow through and hit a goal. I don't know if it's the better way to go, but I've learned to accept that it can be good for me.
 

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I can't think of anything that needed to change. It all went the way it was going to go. It would have been nice to start earlier on, but I didn't have the know-how at the time, and was tied up in things that were beyond my control, so the time travel letter wouldn't accomplish that much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I can't think of anything that needed to change. It all went the way it was going to go. It would have been nice to start earlier on, but I didn't have the know-how at the time, and was tied up in things that were beyond my control, so the time travel letter wouldn't accomplish that much.
Ha, that works. Seems like a pretty good attitude to have of, things happen how they happen. I'd like to think like that sometimes, but younger me definitely could have used a kick in the butt every now and then.
 

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I would tell my younger self not to even try self-publishing, that he/me doesn’t have the mindset or a thick enough skin to be even halfway decent at the business side of it, that it’s not worth the gut punch every time a new book totally flatlines or yet another promo or tactic or cover redesign proves fruitless, and that the money he/I threw down a long series of ratholes would have easily paid for that grand tour of the great opera houses of Europe I’ll probably never be able to go on now, even if there was no pandemic.

But I doubt younger me would have listened anyway.
 
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