Today I received a phone call from an old chum who was seeking a bit of writing advice. To me, giving advice seems a bit too pretentious, though I mention the things I've learned from time to time. There's nothing more discouraging than finding out a writer you look up to is discouraging, and this really applies to a prominent figure in any aspiration. Some people are too negative. Some people are know-it-alls.
So if there is one piece of advice I believe in whole-heartedly, it's be yourself.
If you're thinking that's a cliche message, you're already on the wrong path.
1. Meeting people is key to success in the publishing game.
You can't force this. When I went to the Midwest Writers Conference (#mww12), I saw a lot of writers jumping to the point. Lucky for me, I interned for Kelsey Timmerman and ended up making a lifelong friend (or acquaintance with hook-ups, though I don't see it that way) and weaseled my way into the conference as an intern.
What I learned was to be natural. Hang out. Talk. Whatever. We're all human beings, and that's what we look for first in people, despite any prior motives. Someone who is "real" is much more appealing than someone trying to pitch an idea. You never know when these opportunities will arise, but you know your goals, and more importantly, you know who you are - So work with it! If you end up at the same restaurant, grab a drink and make conversation. If they're interested in what you do after that, they'll find a way of getting it out of you.
Warning: Be aware they may ask you to "pitch" your idea, though you think you're lost in conversation. I made this mistake when chatting with Dana Kaye. Be on your toes!
2. Don't try to fit in.
Being the awkward kid rarely works, but don't blend in. Of course, you don't want to be too far off in your own little world. Are you the kind of person who knows these tidbits about things, as though you're waiting for your turn on Jeopardy!? Then do that. It's you, and there's nothing you can design that will ever be as authentic.
I receive criticism from others all the time for writing horror. Look, I love horror. I love to write horror stories. I know horror. So I go with it. And guess what, other people might be looking for that.
3. You are Your Audience.
It's important to see your idea in a realistic perspective, but at the same time, think about what lead you to liking whatever it is you like. If you're writing a certain way just because it sells, most people will see through your façade . For instance, I love horror. I write horror. There are other people just like m, and they might be the audience you've been searching for all along.
People who don't like horror, will only mock horror. Your audience (if you're a horror writer in this instance) are those who love horror. See how it works?
Be organic. Who you are as a person might be your very best selling point.
Links You Might Enjoy:
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.