Thriller writer Jamie Freveletti shares the most personally useful–and least useful–advice she’s gotten.
“Persistence is the only thing that really has the ability to move you closer to being published.”
Here’s what ended up working, and not working, for me:
1. Write every day.
This advice comes from those who write like crazy. Many who say this are well published. I write a lot, but not every day. Frankly, there are not many things I do every day except raise children. When I worked as a lawyer and the kids were smaller I wrote every other day on average. Vacations- and beach vacations in particular- ramp up my word count and as a result my children have seen a lot of sand.
I get an idea for a premise and begin writing. I research along the way, but while I’m still writing. I remember what James Rollins once said at a conference I attended: “when you’re researching you’re working but not writing.” In other words, doing prep work accomplishes something but you are still no closer to finishing the novel. Outlining is not for me.
3. Take a creative writing class.
I began with an evening course at the University of Chicago Gleacher center. I got into the groove of writing there, but by no means do I think it is a necessary step to becoming a writer.
4. Get a Masters in Fine Arts.
I have some degrees and diplomas. Enjoyed them all, but just don’t have it in me to get one more. Thankfully, this bit of advice is only necessary if you want to obtain a position as a professor.
5. Write what you know.
I’ve written about things I can only imagine. I mean, who murders someone just so they can write about murder? In fact, one of my first manuscripts is about a female attorney. I knew the material, but so many have written legal scenarios and lawyer protagonists that I wasn’t sure I had much to add to the genre. Not to mention that I felt as though I was at work 24/7. I ended up putting that manuscript on the shelf and turned to write Running. If you’re unsure about your ability to write a believable scenario in an area you don’t know, then maybe you should write what you know at first. Just be prepared to branch out if necessary.
6. Awful first drafts are fine.
If you don’t finish something, you’ll never get in the game. Just quell the voice in your head that says “Are you kidding? No one is going to want to read this drivel” and keep on going. You’re going to revise and revise and then revise again anyway.
7. Be prepared to write a second novel if the first doesn’t sell.
Seems as though everyone has a manuscript on the shelf. I know I do. It’s not bad, as firsts go, but I read it the other day from my new position as a debut author of a second manuscript, and I can now see where it can be improved. Don’t know if I had that perspective before.
8. Attend conferences to meet people in the industry.
Just don’t do what I did during my first and spend the afterhours in a Starbucks instead of in the hotel bar. Lawyers congregate in Starbucks and leave early to go home and continue billing. Writers congregate in the bar and stay late and party. Remember that!
9. Don’t chase a trend if your heart’s not in it.
You’ll end up writing something lackluster. Write what you love. If it doesn’t sell, see #2 above, but don’t write what you think others will buy. Never seems to work–and I’m not sure why that should be, but most tell me this is true and I believe them.
10. Never stop.
Persistence is the only thing that really has the ability to move you closer to being published. If you quit, you’ll never succeed.
Author photo by Leslie Schwartz Photography