During an interview recently – and I can’t tell you how much I LOVELOVELOVE saying I was “interviewed!” – I was asked about the one piece of writing advice that has stuck with me and gotten me through publishing hurdles, humps and heartbreak. It was actually difficult to come up with just that one exclusive iota of writing wisdom that has resonated with me.
My first thought is the one I received from a literary agent many moons ago which I’ve written about before. Although this agent didn’t accept me as a client, she wrote a handwritten note at the bottom of her letter (this was pre-email, folks) stating, “…you are an excellent writer and I have no doubt I will be reading your published works one day soon. It only takes one “yes” to make a difference in your writing career…” I have never forgotten those words.
Another piece of writing advice that comes to mind is when I heard Nora Roberts speak at the National RWA conference in 2014. She was asked how she can be so prolific a writer and what was her secret. She replied, “Put your butt in the chair, your fingers over the keyboard and write. That’s it and that’s all.” Butt in seat, fingers on keyboard, write. Can it be any simpler than this?
I would guess the piece of writing advice I’ve learned to repeat daily to myself, is actually one I gave myself many years ago and had nothing to do with writing at the time I came up with it. I call it THE TAO OF NGUNGI ( pronounced na-goo-na-guy). It means, NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER GIVE IN. I was going through a difficult period of my life and the days ahead looked bleak and scary. But when I started saying this to myself, it resonated loudly and I was able to get through the period relatively emotionally unscathed.
Now, when I want to have a writing pity party for myself, I repeat the phrase as many times as I need to in order to dig myself out of my depressing black hole. By practicing the TAO Of NGUNGI, I have pushed onwards all this years and finally have a publishing contract.
Never Give up and Never give in. One piece of really good advice – for life and for writing.