What I Wish I’d Known as a New Writer: Growing into Your Writer Pants

And…I’m more or less back from my two day excursion into Illsville. Loving spouses share everything, including the colds that students give them, apparently. Yay, spouse gifts! *grumble, grumble*


Anywhoo, while I am still amassing my book and workshop suggestions for you all, I thought I would talk about the next thing that I wished I’d known as a writer starting out. I’m going to call this one growing into your writer pants.

So. We write a book, and we think we’re ready to send it out. Now, we’ve already talked about patience, and the reveal that things take a long time. That includes the development of your talent. I still believe that you need to send your work out. Early is best, because you learn about the market, who you’d like to work with, and so forth, and you learn about the process.


You must expect to be rejected. Now, Young Writer Me, I know you don’t believe you will be rejected. But you will. You don’t know the business, they don’t know you, and even if your writing is good, lots of good writers are knocking on the doors of publishers.


Young Writer Me, your writing is not as good as you think it is in your endorphine laden view of the world. We’ve already addressed that point with writer education and even more patience.

You see, Young Writer Me, it’s going to take time to develop your talent and make a niche for yourself. If you take the steps, eventually your work will get better, and things like publishing, agents, and even book deals will come. Sort of like a flower blooming, if you nurture your writing, you will see beautiful rewards.

Wait! What about the elements of chance? What about subjectivity? Publication is under the control of others, but what you want your writing to be is under control of yourself. I am now of the school that someone will want what you do if you do it well. Your job, Young Writer Me, is to develop what you do, and go from there.

The other piece of growing into your writer pants is setting some writer goals for yourself, so you know which direction you’re trying to grow in. The goals you have will be yours, and aren’t the same as those for others. No advice here, but these seem the best for me. I have a few goals now, and here they are.

1. It is not required that I support myself writing. I know that the irregularity of a writer’s income would lead me to an early grave. I must have another stream of income that is steady. That is why I have developed another career, with insurance and retirement, and I will stay with that career to get those benefits.

2. I would like to continue to work on the writer education piece of my writing, attending workshops and critique groups. I no longer believe in the writer alone.

3. I will continue actively to seek criticism and modify my work.

4. I will pursue a career in traditional publication, rather than experimental markets.

5. I would rather write than promote, if I have to choose how to selectively manage my time around a day job.

6. Growing into my writer pants, I expect opportunities to come when I am ready for them, such as the book contract, the agent, and so forth. Achieving these benchmarks has never been my goal. Writing the best I can is my goal, and I hope these things spring organically from that.

7. Writing something I am satisfied with is more important to me than writing something that is commercial or focuses on the trends of the moment.

8. I expect I have a lot more to learn as a writer. I don’t expect to “break in.” I expect to grow and see what happens.

9. I don’t see my writing career as a nut to crack. I see myself as someone who is going to be writing for the rest of my life.


So there I am. I expect to learn more. These are the things I would have liked to know. I’ll probably be doing a similar series of posts in a couple more years. Writing is a journey after all, not a destination.

Okay. Enough zen. I’ve got a few days of internetting to catch up on.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.