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Turning 21 (+ The Best Writing Advice I've Gotten in the Past Few Years)

So first of all I had planned to announce that Project Hellion is now on paperback. I got my author copy on Tuesday this week but when I woke up on Wednesday the paperback version had gone out of review and I got an email saying there were a few things wrong with the book (even though I got my author copy and it looks great) so unfortunately Project Hellion is not on Amazon on paperback yet.
:( I'm working on the problems and hopefully it'll be up by the end of March. Anyways, I had this whole blog post written cuz I was feeling really nostalgic and stuff and I don't want to waste it. But first Weapon Icean and Project Hellion are both on the Kindle store and on Kindle Unlimited so if you're interested click Here.

Anyways, I got the author copy on Tuesday and it was surreal. I think it was especially cool because when I wrote Weapon Icean it was for my 2015 Nanowrimo so when I wrote the first draft of Weapon Icean I was 18! Four years later and in just one day I'll be 21. I just can't even believe it.

This year Weapon Icean will be 4 years old and Project Hellion will be 3 years old since I started writing it in 2016. I've learned a lot, I've grown a lot and life has changed a lot since then. When I wrote Weapon Icean I was still a baby writer. I completely agree that as writers we are always growing and learning new things. Our writing is always getting stronger and better. Four years ago my writing wasn't growing or shifting or getting better. It just sort of stayed the way it was, the way I had been writing for years and years before. That's why, when I say Weapon Icean is by no means my strongest novel, I am being completely honest and I am OK with saying that because its true. I hope this makes sense but back then Weapon Icean was the best of my writing. Now though, it isn't even close to how good my writing has gotten now.

Four years has passed and my writing has grown in leaps and bounds. Techniques and different tools of the craft of writing has snapped into place for me. I learned how create strong character arcs, how to make my characters 3 dimensional and how to not only have my main character be important to the story but also give my side characters stories of their own and make them just as important as my MC. I learned how to weave theme into my books to make them more meaningful and I'm still learning how best to outline so I'm more organized while also letting my pantser self be creatively free when writing a first draft. So many things have come together and I've learned so much. Project Hellion is an accumulation of the lessons I taught myself through experimentation, blog posts and advice from fellow writers throughout 2016 through 2018 and I've learned even more and my writing has grown even stronger since finishing the final draft of Project Hellion and publishing it.

I'm so proud to have published four books in the past four years and I'm proud of each and every one of them because I put my everything into all of them. Every tool I had in my tool box, lots of practice and experimentation and everything I had learned about the craft of writing and storytelling at the time, I put into those books. Weapon Icean may not be the best book I ever wrote but I am so proud of my 18 year old self for working so hard at writing it, revising it, hiring an editor and publishing it all herself. Plus, without Weapon Icean my mom and I wouldn't have discovered what a truly awesome cover designer she is.

Without having published Weapon Icean, Of Magic and Mayhem, Firespot the Red Panda and Project Hellion, I wouldn't be on the road I'm on now. The road to pursuing traditional publishing. Self-publishing was my first choice because I love the freedom it gives me, but I want to at least try and get traditionally published.

Five years ago I was seventeen I published four books, two of which are a duology, written way more than four books in the past four years, graduated with my associates in general liberal arts, have started a new church and have made some new friends there and I'm now pursuing traditional publication and have several books up on Wattpad. It's surreal how much can change in a few years.

And since writing isn't the only part of my life I feel the need to mention the other important areas of my life too. Five years ago we were going to a different church than we are now and I'm really thankful to God for leading us to the church we're at now. The people there have been wonderful and a blessing and though at first I had a rough time fitting in, connecting and meeting new people, I feel like I'm finally starting to belong. I'm in a small group full of the sweetest, most caring people and I want to make the time and the effort to get to know all of them and let them get to know me too. In the past five years my friendship with my best friend has grown and changed and it's been really amazing to be friends with him for so long (eight years!) and to be there for each other as life happens. Of course my family is pretty amazing too. I don't know if a lot has changed on that front in the past few years. My parents are always super supportive, helpful and loving and besides my little brothers growing up too quickly :( things haven't changed too much though with one of my brothers maybe moving out things may change in the coming months.

But most importantly I've grown a lot in my faith. I've come to learn there are mountains and valleys. There are different seasons and each season is unique and good in their own way. Even if that season happens to be a season of feeling disconnected from God. Those are the worst and sometimes last months and sometimes last only weeks. To be honest, I've gone through quite a few of them in the past five years. But at the end of those seasons, every single time, God reminds me that He is still there and was always there even when I wasn't reaching out and when I didn't try hard enough to reconnect with Him. He's faithful, He's good and He is and always has been my one constant in a constantly changing world. I feel like I recently just came out of one of those disconnected seasons where I didn't make time for Him and where I didn't here from Him. It only lasted like two weeks... they were a weird two weeks haha And now I'm feeling more connected and want to be in his Word more often, pray more often and just be near to Him more often.

Wow, I did not plan to get so serious and profound but there it is haha

Anyways because you just endured a long rant that does include a lot about talking about learning the writing-craft I'll add a few of the most important writing advice and lessons that have helped me grow in my writing over the past few years.

  • First drafts are allowed to be messy! 
  • Each book takes a different amount of time to write and can require different writing processes. 
  • To go along with the one above, don't compare your journey, your writing or your books to others. No good comes of that. Be proud of your journey and focus on learning about your writing style, voice, and process. Not someone else's. (Though it is always beneficial to try new things. Some of the best things I did was try out another person's editing process or even drafting process. But if they don't work for you go back to what works for you and don't feel bad about it). 
  • Writing and storytelling are two different things. Someone can be a good storyteller without being a writer. Storytelling is the art of telling a story. Writing is its own separate art. Writing is about voice, word choice, sentence structure, flow, paragraph and scene structure and plot structure. Storytelling is not even about plot. It's about the story, the theme, character development. I read this article and it completely changed the way I view my writing and has helped so much in drafting my latest WIP. 
  • It's OK to miss a day or two of writing. This one might be hard to wrap your head around, especially if you feel guilty if you don't write for a day (like me) but it really is OK to take a break! 
  • Write what your passionate about and if you lose that passion and excitement take a break from it. This is counter to all writing advice that says finish that first draft! I say finish that first draft unless it's making you miserable, frustrated and unhappy. 
  • Write your first draft behind closed doors. On the flip-side it is beneficial to share later drafts with friends or other writers or readers to get an outside perspective. 
  • And most importantly! Be patient with yourself and your book! Like I said (and Victoria Schwab says all the time) each book takes different amounts of time. Some may take 8 years to write and others 3 months and both are perfectly OK. 

So yeah, those bits of advice are what has helped me the most to grow as a writer.
Any post about writing advice must always have this gif haha

After tomorrow I turn 21 and I am excited to see what my 21st year holds for me. And there you have it, my rambling, nostalgic, a little bit serious blog post that I mostly wrote for myself so that I will always have this time documented on my blog. But I also hope that something I wrote above helps you in some way, shape, or form. :)
And because no birthday post is complete without a TVD gif here it is haha 

Have a great rest of the week everyone! :) 
What's some of the best writing advice you've ever received? 


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