Originally Published at http://horrorwriter.diaryland.com/Hisp1.html @ 10:54 p.m.

Writing is a journey, as is life. There is no “destination,” and no map for you, as an individual. Sadly, there are many things to learn and often it takes the “hard way” for you to actually accept the truth.

The most important initial decision: where you want to go? Do you want to pursue a profession or are you content with being a hobbyist? Figuring this out can make things much easier for you down the road. Don’t pretend to be a professional when you have no real interest. Likewise, don’t cheat yourself by claiming it’s just a hobby when you really have a genuine desire to write professionally. If you don’t get support from those around you, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you do have, many people can’t creatively write at all. Those around you will change when they see it isn’t a passing dream.

After almost two decades of writing, I’ve learned many things about the topic. This is a collection of wisdom that I’ve had to learn the hard way. Either by feeling animosity or receiving it. Hopefully, it will help others.


  1. Never let another dictate how valuable you are or what you can do.
  2. Never let anyone intimidate you from your goals.
  3. Always learn from the mistakes of others.
  4. Don’t ask for a critique when you just want a compliment. A friend may be honest and you will hate them for it.
  5. Don’t expect the world to be blown away by your ability. It took Stephen King, himself, decades to achieve the popularity he has now. Interview With A Vampire, by Anne Rice, was actually released in the 1970s, wasn’t made into a movie or vastly popular until the 1990s. It took Melville 50 years to find a publisher for, Moby Dick. Emily Dickinson lived long enough to see two poems published. Edgar Allan Poe lived with his two aunts in poverty most of his adult life. It is not easy, there is much disappointment, and you should prepare for it.
  6. Don’t mistake name recognition for celebrity status. As a writer, you’re only known for your words. But, that should be fine with you. You are a messenger, not a king.
  7. Don’t be suckered by, “poetry contests.” Few are legitimate. A credit in poetry doesn’t really help you with a fiction novel or non-fiction article.
  8. If it’s too good to be true, it is.
  9. Do not use subsidy/vanity publishers!
  10. If you want to publish your own work, seek the services of a simple book printer.
  11. Don’t blindly chase rainbows for obvious reasons. Use strategy and as much knowledge and preparation as possible.
  12. Pursue your career wisely. There are no, “get-published-quick,” schemes unless you literally pay for it.
  13. Don’t expect an easy ride.
  14. Don’t let your “art” take over you. Don’t look down on others who don’t appreciate your talent. Everyone has different tastes, you may lose a valuable future reader.
  15. What you write today will most likely be garbage tomorrow if you are improving. Don’t let it destroy relationships around you.
  16. Don’t be arrogant. You will always have more to learn. Conceit is a double-edged sword and when you realize you really have nothing to match that ego, the fall will be ten times as hard. There won’t be anyone around to encourage or support you.
  17. Don’t expect a query to land you a contract. Often, it takes hundreds of queries to get one of those.
  18. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can write. The idea chooses the writer. Period. Always. If you don’t get ideas, perhaps it’s the wrong profession for you.
  19. Don’t think an English degree guarantees publication.
  20. Yes, an SASE is required and not sending one promises your letter will go in the trash.
  21. You will have about 50 competitors at once. Know your grammar, follow the agency/publisher guidelines, watch details.
  22. No, a publisher will not accept your work just because they like the story. They want professionals, not amateurs. Imagine your competition. Would you accept the story that needs complete restructuring and rewriting, or the novel that is mostly free of errors? You’d take the one that needed less work. Naturally, the best story will not require the reader to struggle through it.
  23. Don’t use gimmicks to get attention to your book. Your story should be what attracts their attention, not the neon business card enclosed.
  24. If you don’t have any credentials, DON’T TELL. Keep attention affixed on your work.
  25. The real work is NOT in writing. It’s in editing and polishing.
  26. Don’t use jargon, not everyone is a certified officer of the law or legal assistant. Using lots of technical terminology will alienate your reader and make them look for more enjoyable reading.
  27. If you are writing a mainstream novel, don’t be, “bitchy.” The reader isn’t reading your book because of your political affiliation or your views. They won’t appreciate a novel filled with the same redundant political/social gripes. Your characters should be diverse.
  28. Don’t push accents. Remember the phrase, “rare and with care.” No matter what you’re writing about, misspellings and attempting to fit the material to suit the accent will just slow your work down. Accents should be used sparsely and just to deepen a character.
  29. Avoid scams. Check everything out.
  30. NEVER go against the guidelines of the company you are submitting to. No, they will not regard you as an eccentric artist. They will essentially consider you an unprofessional amateur who probably won’t give a crap about sales or their contract regulations. “Loose canons,” may be highly regarded in films, but real life is much different than movies.