In my mind, English class was never work. Reading and writing was the fun part of my day. When I entered college, I decided to major in business, but discovered I had enough space in my schedule to squeeze in a second major. I chose English Literature.
After spending time in the corporate world and then several sleepless years caring for three young children, it seemed as if I only blinked and my youngest was starting preschool. Suddenly, I found myself with some long-awaited free time. One day, I was rooting around in the basement and I found a battered trunk my parents had dropped off the second I’d moved into my first home. Inside, I found many of my old stories, diaries, journals and notebooks. For over ten years, I’d buried my love of writing, but it was now time to begin again.
When I sat down to write as an adult, I decided to take a serious approach. I read books on writing. To refresh and improve my skills, I attended local writers’ workshops. At one writing seminar, a published author advised the attendees to gain experience working with an editor. To accomplish this, I began freelancing, mainly writing blogs for a variety of clients. Blogging has taught me how to write with a deadline looming like a storm cloud over my head. It’s also taught me how to work with editors and accept criticism without taking it personally (most of the time).
I also enrolled in the Children’s Institute of Literature Writing for Children and Young Adults Program, where I was paired with a young adult author who has also given me great writing advice. I tend to write a lot of back story into my first drafts, and she advised me to plunge right into the first chapter using action or dialogue. She also encouraged me to loosen up my dialogue and strive to make my characters sound like authentic young adults.
Writing is a process, sometimes glorious, sometimes painful, and sometimes coming to a dead stop in the middle of a pesky chapter. But as writers, we keep going until there is an end in sight. And then we go back and revise until the end is in sight once again. Along the way, don’t forget to ask for advice from other writers to ensure that you keep moving forward.
What’s the best piece of writing advice that a mentor has shared with you?
Jennifer DiGiovanni is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about business, real estate, home design and healthy living. Her most recent novel, The Hurricane, is currently available on Swoonreads.com. She is also a two-time winner of the Writerstype.com First Chapter Submit contest. She lives with her husband and three children in Pennsylvania.
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