Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tip O'Day #404 - Learning from Mistakes

Guest blogger Jami Gray on ‘Third Time is The Charm.’

With two books out there, and working on a third, I'm starting to recognize that there are a couple of stages in the writing game every writer goes through. The first one comes after you begin to fall from that high of being published and seeing your first work out there--all alone in the big bad world of readers, where it can be raised up and kicked down faster than lightning. You try not to get obsessive about the reviews, feedback and those pesky things known as ratings, but those little voices manage to wiggle their way in and tear bits and pieces off of your creativity. Together those small things gain strength, and so the debilitating question looms on your writing horizon---can I really manage to write another book?

Answer: Hell, yeah you can. You're a writer, stop worrying about what's being said out there. You're out there. Readers are reading you. You have to be doing something right. So in a truly horribly NY/Bronx accent "Forget about it!" and write your story. Take the things you've learned with your first book, do them better or fix them in your second. Then keep going. You can’t get better if you don’t keep writing.

With my second book out there, I started tackling my third title, Shadow’s Moon. This has not been an easy journey as I am leaving behind the familiarity of my protagonist of my first two books to focus on another and I’m writing from two POV’s this time around. Yes, I’ve heard the rule, but rules are meant to be broken. That’s the beauty of being a writer. How will you discover what works if you don’t try it?

Yet while I'm crafting this story, I'm still getting feedback on Shadow's Edge and Shadow's Soul. I know you'll never please all your readers all of the time, but it is so easy to fall into the downward spiral of "OMG, I need to change this..." or "Maybe I should do this instead..." Second guessing ourselves is not productive, not even a little bit.

One of my critique partners shared a blog post by Kris Rusch discussing when is your book truly done...I so needed to hear her when she said,

I’m here to tell you this: If you want a career as a writer, ignore your critics.
When the book is finished, when the book is published for heaven’s sake, then it’s done. Irrevocably done. Mistakes and all.

So now, I make it a point not to obsess over rankings or critiques--readers will either love it or hate it, it's out there, I'm not changing it. For now, all I can do as a writer, is take what I've learned, and use it for Shadow's Moon. And the mistakes I make in that story, I'll just use those to make the next one even better. I'm a writer, but I won't be much of one if I don't learn and grow from my screw-ups. Besides, who knows, maybe one of those screw-ups will turn into a flash of genius!

Check out her books at www.jamigray.com/books and her website is www.jamigray.com


  1. Hi Dixon!

    I've nominated you for a Sunshine Award! Stop by my blog and pick it up anytime!


    Sharon :)

  2. Great attitude, Jami! Thanks for the post...