So I stumbled onto the blog of Aimee L. Salter a while back via Twitter and in addition to finding very helpful writing advice, I also discovered she holds a contest called the First 500 Critiques. If you’re brave enough, you submit the first 500 words of your novel for Aimee and anyone who reads her blog to critique.
I took a chance and tried to be as helpful as I could to my fellow brave submitters and by chance won the comment lottery for a first chapter critique. This is something Aimee does for free out of the goodness of her heart. (I have a feeling karma will be bringing her fantastic returns).
I found her advice on my first 500 to be very helpful, if not reinforcing what I was hearing about it. I think it aided me in gathering the courage to make some major changes–changes I believe are for the better.
The whole situation reminded me of something I think some of us writers tend to forget, and that’s community. Networking is so much more important than we give it credit for. We have to think beyond the direct path to publishing and somehow realize there’s this whole community of writers now easily accessible thanks to technology with a wealth of advice and information. I’ve learned so many things from fellow writers I may not have discovered on my own. I’ve learned how to utilize social media tools, editing techniques, query letter advice, story mechanics advice–the list goes on and on.
I think a lot of us have that personality that wants to keep these things private, but when you shut yourself off to the community you’re closing yourself off to one of the best support groups you could possibly have.
And something else I’ve learned is there’s room for everyone in this business. Just think about it. Sure, there are the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games and the Twlights but once a reader has devoured them, that’s it. They want more and we’re potentially there to give it to them. I truly believe we all have good stories in us, it’s just the translation part–the getting it from our head to paper in desirable form–that holds us back. But there’s room for all of our stories, once we get them right on paper.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my elation and both encourage you to check out Aimee’s blog and find your own way to contribute to the community. Remember, the energy you send out does return to you. Make sure it’s positive helpful energy.
If you want to do the first 500, you’ll likely have to wait until next year as it has passed for this season. But polish your work in the meantime and search her articles for advice on how to do that. I believe she also offers her services for critiquing your work.
And what about you? Have you found contributing to the community to be helpful in your writing journey? What new discoveries have you made interacting with other writers? Let us know in the comments below.