RTW: *Mistakes are the portals of discovery…


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic: What’s the biggest writing/querying/publishing mistake you’ve made so far?

I’ve yet to do anything colossally stupid or embarrassing (I’m sure my time will come), though I have made mistakes that have slowed my progress. I’ve neglected to research (which explains why my first YA manuscript [a tragically low-concept contemporary] clocked in at approximately 130,000 words). I’ve queried too soon (yes, that same first manuscript), and I’ve entertained the wildly unproductive belief that I am the exception. But my biggest mistake, the one I’ve since remedied and will never, ever make again, is trying to make it as a writer all by myself.


Good news: That first manuscript? The tragically low-concept contemporary? It somehow snagged me a critique partner (the amazingly talented Heather Howland), who tore it up in the kindest of ways . In the process, she taught me all about voice, word choice, and plot, and also hooked me up with some of her writing friends (including my other two amazingly talented critique partners Jus Accardo and AE Rought).

In the interest of inserting myself further into the YA writing community, I started blogging and tweeting and interacting with all kinds of fantastic people (both online and local). Can you guess what happened next? I’ll tell you: Writing became easier. And more fun. I felt less crazy. Less alone. I also learned a lot, and my writing improved in the process.

I’m not sure what I would do without the YA community, and I’m not sure how my sanity survived that first manuscript without my critique partners and writing friends. (My husband might say it didn’t survive. Hmm…).

For more, check in Friday. I’ll share some of my favorite online writing communities. Also, stop by YA Highway to see how other participants answered this question.

Do tell… what’s the biggest writing/querying/publishing mistake you’ve made so far?

*The wise words of James Joyce.

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26 responses to “RTW: *Mistakes are the portals of discovery…

  1. I think we’ve all probably written the too-many words book at one point. I know I did.

  2. I would call my first MS a mistake — starting too soon, both in terms of writing and where I opened the book, writing without an outline, not stopping and asking myself why I was struggling when I did — except, y’know, it was my first. I can’t call it a mistake when it taught me so much about what I was doing wrong.

    It would be too tragic to mention I could apply the same logic to my first relationship, yes? Oh snap, I just burned younger me.

    • Yep, I call my first manuscript PRACTICE, because even with all its flaws, the experience of writing it was invaluable. (I still kind of love it too, even though it will never see the light of day. :))

  3. Haha. Check out my post today, Katy. And my, uh…”mistake” novel. It was 175K.

    I’ve shortended on the research front too. And learned from it. Hoo boy.

  4. Aw, I love this post! Sometimes mistakes seem destined to lead to better things, and I’d say discovering the YA community (and letting us all get to know you!) is a way, way better thing.

  5. And more fun. I felt less crazy. Less alone. I also learned a lot, and my writing improved in the process.

    I couldn’t have said it better! This is exactly what happened once I got involved in the YA writing community. 🙂

    • Yay! I think it’s probably a lot like that for many of us. The actual process of writing can be so solitary, but it sure is more pleasant knowing you have a support system should you need it.

  6. Oh yes, I’ve queried too soon and believed that I was the shining exception to the rule. 🙂

    I agree that the YA community has been a great place to learn and move on from so many mistakes!

    • Haven’t we all been the shining exception to the rule? 🙂 It’s almost as if you have to THINK you are in order to get passed that arrogance and to a better, more humble place.

  7. great spin on this!!!

  8. I’m so happy you stopped trying to go at it alone. I may never have “met” you otherwise, and that would be a shame. ❤

  9. Finding a crit group really helped me step up my game too–otherwise, it’s just the same voices in my head, going around in circles. Having the right crit partners made the difference between “nearly there” and “yes, there!”

  10. I am going to name my band “Tragically Low-Concept Contemporary.”

  11. Yay for the community! 😀

  12. Ha! Saving this one for the memoir…

    Seriously, we all have made mistakes, some bigger than others. But mistakes nonetheless. A friend in publishing once told me, “Publishing is all about forgiveness,” and I think she’s right. So, there you go. Mistake away.

    • “So, there you go. Mistake away.”

      Ha! I hope I don’t make TOO many more mistakes! But your right, everyone screws up, and I think it’s all about how you bounce back. 🙂

  13. Yes! Writing itself is a solitary profession, but we can totally invite others into the world we create for ourselves. It makes the whole process so much better.