What's one thing you wish you knew sooner in your writing career?

One of the amazing things about Wattpad and those who wish to make writing a career, is we have a plethora of users in different stages of their journey.

Whether you are just finishing up your first manuscript, you are querying agents / publishers, you’re on submission, you’re in the process of self publishing, or maybe you’ve conquered all of the above – what’s one thing you wish you knew sooner in your career? This can be in relation to writing or the industry.

Please also tell us where you are in your publishing journey!


My one regret is that I didn’t start sooner. My thinking at the time was that you can’t make a living from writing, so you’d better squash that desire and work at a real job to earn a living. But the writers who started at the beginning of the ebook revolution over a decade ago now have dozens of books in their oeuvre…one has over a hundred self-published now. Most of those books are gawd awful; even the 5 star reviews note the grammar, spelling and punctuation problems, but those writers have great visibility on Amazon due to the sheer number of their books, and according to the writers themselves they’re earning five and six figures because of that. If I’d started when they did, I could be earning a ton of money and maybe even have a literary award or two by now—who knows? But the timing for that kind of opportunity has long passed and it’s a lot harder to gain traction now. Oh well, live and learn! ¯_(ﭢ)_/¯

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That all my works that were initial failures didn’t mean I’d never make it. After more than a decade riding the query-go-round, and after finding no traction for the 13 novels I wrote, I quite…for more than a decade.

When I returned to writing I vowed not to publish. Luckily my wife took over that end of things and, ironically, it was those books that landed me in the publishing scene (and have sold more than 1.5M copies). When I look back, I realize that those early works (which weren’t very good) were necessary for me to find my voice and polish my skills.


THIS. I wish I could go back and tell myself all my failures had a purpose (in both life and writing). In fact, one might even argue that my failures had the greatest impact on my growth as a writer (and human being).


Every time you write you improve. Though it may seem pointless or not worth it, it is an experience and every bad writing you write will only help a good one get better. Don’t give up no matter what, no matter how old you are and no matter how much people tell you you can’t do it.

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I wish I knew sooner how difficult the publishing process would be. But I also wished I knew that I would never be successful in being mainstream published either.

That would’ve saved me a lot of time and heartache over trying to win people who–in their words–wouldn’t take fiction at all.

Of course, if I had a more stable upbringing, a supportive family, more money and access to more available resources and connections, I probably would’ve been one of those more “successful” authors, but since that didn’t happen…? I had to make do with what was given to me over the years–which wasn’t much.

But right now, the wait is killing me. All my current projects that I want to see published are stuck in limbo.

I wish I had not taken my early rejections as meaning I was fooling myself to imagine I had any talent. For this lack of self-belief, I shelved my writing for over 30 years!
I cannot believe I allowed this wasted time. Can only imagine where I could be this day had I refused to give in to my critics. And yet, did this long hiatus teach me more about many things [not the least being persistence and a now unshakeable belief in who I am and all the possibilities that await me now] and bring me to a new adventurous spirit refusing to bow to anything?


It’s true Akje, we’ll never know for sure how it might have been with an earlier start.
And yet? Is it written in some Great Volume in the Sky that our feet were going to walk a different path? That we would always have that precious belief in ourselves and a knowing of exactly who our words are written for?

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Well, yes and no. Basically I agree with what you’re saying, but ultimately our books are stuck in the black box of our brains no matter what. When we go to the bother of wrestling with words, cutting open a vein and bleeding them out, it’s really for the benefit of other people, not for ourselves. Did Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the rest of them write just so they could read their own books, or did they write because there were essential truths the world needed to hear? _〆(..)

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One thing I wish I knew sooner? To plan a plot and to write it down.

To elaborate a bit more, I mostly write crime or mystery books, with a murder and a murderer. In the beginning, I’d make up a spectacular murder and just go with it - so I didn’t even know who I wanted my murderer to be. Writing the end gets really hard, then.

Later on, I did plan my plot. I knew who my murderer was, so I began writing, but I hadn’t written my plot down, so I came at the end and had forgotten who my killer was, so that was another wasted project.

I’m a really forgettable person and I forget a lot, so if I don’t write anything down, I can forget complete stories. That’s one thing I wish I knew sooner.

And maybe another, about publishing on Wattpad, is not to focus too much on the numbers. They don’t really say anything about the quality of your writing, it just means you haven’t been discovered yet.

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Oops. Misunderstanding. I didn’t mean ‘so they could read their own books’ - more like ‘once you discover you CAN write, to NOT write is no longer an option’ [similar to breathing] - and therefore I say you write for yourself. MUCH later, others enter into the equation and pontificate about your words. THEN the decisions REALLY confront the author - good [even excellent] advice - OR - run the risk of throwing the baby out … etc.
Luckily, at my vast age [snigger] I’ll choose ME [and my well-considered judgement] vs. the rest, most of the time. ‘The rest’ can worry about it when I’m gone. Or not!

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Pardon if this seems confrontational, not intended.

I wish I knew from the beginning not everyone’s advice is created equal. I’m to focused on taking everyone seriously, its easier to lose sight of the fact a science fiction writer (who only reads Hard Scifi and nothing else) has no businesses critiquing fantasy or Magical Realism.

Its not that I ever took them seriously, I’m just a people pleasure. And vocal minorities like to think they’re the majority opinion when they’re not.

Ahhh! Okay, I see what you mean now. ( ˘◡˘)۶ ٩(˘◡˘ )

It can tell you what genre you’re really suited for. And I’ll say, for me that’s not science fiction but rather Scientific Magical Realism.

I wish I’d known that hard work does not always equal success. Our society teaches us that if you put in the work, then you will achieve the desired results. But this is not the case… especially with writing. :stuck_out_tongue:

Now I know to focus on improving my writing and loving what I do. :slight_smile: It’s very unlikely I’ll “make it” so I just want to enjoy the ride instead.

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That there are techniques to writing fiction that need to be learned.

(I’ve self-published 3 novels, sold short stories, and was paid to write comic scripts.)

  1. All the days you spend practicing add up, but only if you do the work.

  2. There’s a good chance you’ll hate the book at some point, but the only real regret you’ll have is not finishing it.

  3. Consistency is the straightest route to where you want to get to.

(I’m writing my fourth book and a short story collection)

How slow some parts of this process can take! I’m trying to come to terms with it now as I prepare a book of mine for querying. I hoped to be at that stage by the end of the year, but nope. Maybe the beginning of next. It just makes the drive and work ethic in me that much stronger

I think that even though I always have new book ideas, I would’ve told myself to only focus on the ones I love. I spent a lot of time writing books that went nowhere, and even though they were fun or okay to write, I wish I used my time more wisely to invest in my novels that I really, really love or see a lot of potential in.