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Writing Doesn’t Have To Be A Solo Sport

When I was in the eighth grade I had an amazing language arts teacher who helped me realize my love of writing and that I was actually pretty good at it. I had so much confidence after submitting short stories and I reveled in the praise. At one point he encouraged me to continue, and told me if I worked hard enough I could probably get published before the school year ended. 

But then the advice kind of stopped there. I didn’t know how to write a full story, I had only ever written short stories. And I certainly didn’t have the discipline at 13 that I have now to sit down and write and write until I figured it out. So instead, I floundered, and I doubted myself. I didn’t know how to say to him “ I don’t know what’s next,” and instead I’d just submit my assignments and accept the praise of the specific piece, and never grow past that.

I like to say “writing is a solo sport” because for the most part, and especially at with a first draft, it’s often just you hitting the pages with your thoughts and ideas. But at some point, in order to grow, you have to invite other people in—someone else has to read your writing, you have to see your writing from another point of view. And most of all, when you’re brand new at something, you get to ask for help on what’s next. (also, if you’re very old at something, you still get to ask for help). 

So all this to say, when I was 13 I didn’t know how to ask for help or how to figure out what was next. Now, at 30, l do. I hired a book coach when I finished my first draft of my novel. I have a list of beta readers who have agreed to read and peer-review my revised draft once I get it finished. 

You have to do the work, yes, but you are not alone. Think about who you have in your corner when it comes to your writing. And if you’re thinking “I have no one,” well, let me tell you that you’re wrong. I’m in your corner. I’m here to help you say “what’s next,” and figure out the way.”

Every author you’ve ever read has a list of people in their acknowledgements because no story ever gets written completely solo. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s normal to need help. Please don’t let yourself get stuck by thinking you have to do this alone.