The Best Tip I Ever Got

Someone out on the internet recently asked what was the best tip their blog readers ever got on writing.

My first thought was, well that’s easy. Sit down and write. None of the other stuff matters if you don’t listen to Nike and just do it.

But then I realised there’s something even more basic than that.

There is no hurry.

I mean that. There is no hurry. Right now, the idea’s burning inside you, or perhaps you just got it down on the page and it’s the most perfect thing ever. You can’t wait to show it off. To your friends, your family–the whole world. You start thinking about how to get it published, about all the cool options out there now that don’t even involve waiting for a publisher, agent, editor, none of that, and you’re sure, you’re so sure, that this is good enough, you’re scrolling through Createspace as I write this.

I want to say to that new writer–give it some time. You’re very close to your baby right now. She’s bright, shiny and new and she’s obviously going to be a bestseller. Obviously.

Except she probably isn’t. And because you’re delirious with the joy of your achievement, you have skipped past all the stuff that will help you make her shine. No book comes into the world with the help of just the author. And no author, working alone, can ever make a book as good as it can be.

So wait a bit. Get some distance. Put the book aside and go catch up on the latest season of Justified. Clean the house. Read a book. Read two books. Then get back to your baby and read it again.


You almost put that out there in the world.

And once you have shaken off the shudder of that realisation, get back on your horse, take up your manuscript, draw your sword, and ride into the Valley of Editing. And Beta Reading. And More Editing. And, if it works for you, possibly even the Land of Critique Groups, and the Country of Writing Partners, and if you’re still excited, if you still think the baby has got something, I’d recommend a foray into the Kingdom of Editors before you finally send that book out into the world.

Because no matter how you feel about the book, or indie publishing vs traditional publishing, or agents, or publishers, or Amazon, I guarantee you that not one of the things I mentioned will hurt your book in any way. It will only make it better.

And along the way, it will make you better as a writer too. Because no one plans to write just one book, so why not get better at it as you go along?

So my best writing tip ever? Take the time to make it really good.

You won’t regret it. And yes, I speak from experience. It has taken me years to understand why no one would publish my first novel. Or my second. Or my third, fourth or fifth. But I am so very glad they didn’t.

And now I have all my old manuscripts under lock and key where they can’t hurt me and you can’t laugh at them.

Best thing that ever happened to me, having to wait. You know what they say. Good things come…

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