What Writing Advice Would You Give To Your Older Self?

Dear older, hopefully wiser Herminia,

I know you can be your biggest critic. But I hope you will also be your biggest cheerleader.

When you’re having a bad day, don’t forget to look back and remember the good ones.

Celebrate your victories, however small they may be. Every acceptance. Every congratulations. Every publication.

You’ll hear no all the time. Don’t get discouraged. Continue with all the energy and enthusiasm you had when you first started.

Stay hungry figuratively.

Never settle. Never rest on your laurels. Never make excuses for anything within your control.

Change what you can. Let go of what you can’t. 

You can’t perfect every aspect of writing. So don’t aim for perfection. 

As good as you get, you can always get better. So keep improving and learning. 

Learn from the best. Use what does work. Learn from the worst. Discard what doesn’t work.

Cherish the moment. You may never have another one like it.

Have fun. You’ll probably work hard. Too hard sometimes. You don’t want to be on your deathbed wishing you worked less and partied more.

But you might still hate parties even when you’re older. If that’s the case, work less and read more. Or write more. Dance more. Or whatever it is you love then.

It doesn’t matter what people think. What they say or don’t say. This is your life. At the end of the day, you have to be able to live with your own thoughts. With all you’ve said and done.

Look in the mirror and smile at the girl in the reflection more.

Smile. Be happy. Laugh. Stay positive.

Remember in this industry, 99.9 percent of the time, nothing is personal. It’s business.

People are busy. You may not hear back from an agent or editor. They have a life. They weren’t meant to be in yours.

You’ll find a home for your story. Somewhere. Someday. When you’re ready and when your story is too.

On the topic of readiness, you can’t be ready for everything that life throws at you. That’s okay. Roll with the punches. And punch right back. Not literally. Violence, as you well know, isn’t the answer. It doesn’t solve the problem. Violence makes things worse. Creates more problems.

Keep going. Keep grinding. Rome wasn’t built in a day. A novel isn’t written in one either.

The road to publication is fraught with obstacles and setbacks. But when you reach the end, you’ll realize all your hard work was worth it.

And where one road ends, another begins. When one door closes, another opens.

How does that saying go again? You need to practice for 10,000 hours before you master a skill. Before you’re any good. You’ll never master the skill of writing. You can’t perfect writing. No matter how long you work or how much you write. As for how long it takes before you’re any good, as long as you need.

It might be five years. Two decades. Half a century.

Go at your own pace. Take your time. There’s no need to rush.

The journey is long. Whoever you are right now, wherever you stand, make the most of it. You might not be who you want to be or where you want to be. But you’ll get there.

Sincerely,

Younger, awfully dumber Herminia

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