Thursday, April 16, 2015

Brandon Sanderson on Investing in Yourself

Jill here.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had the privilege of spending last Saturday at the Teen Author Boot Camp writer's conference. It was phenomenal. I even met some of you there!

You all know that I love Brandon Sanderson's books and teachings, so I'm sure you're not terribly surprised to see me return with a quote from him. I jotted this down during his keynote address. Some 670 teen writers heard him say it on Saturday, and I really wanted you all to hear it too.



Brandon said that too many writers focus everything on THE BOOK. But the book isn't the only thing that matters. You matter. And if you've decided you want to become a writer someday, then recognize that you need training. Each book you write provides that training. You are investing time in training yourself to become a better writer. That's what this is all about. And with each book you write, rewrite, and complete, you get better at this thing called writing. Even if you never get published, you will have invested in bettering yourself at something you love. And that's a very good thing.

Do you spend too much time focused on the dream of seeing one particular book published? Have you ever thought of this time in your life as a time of self-improvement? Share your thoughts in the comments.


35 comments:

  1. I'm hoping to see Illusion published, and given that I'm still working on it, I don't think my energies are focused in a bad direction. If I query agents and don't get a bite, it's okay! I'll just move on to another project. I've learned a lot about moving on in my several years of writing.

    Yes, I do think of my writing time as self-improvement, and I've noticed that sometimes what I'm writing will begin to reflect what I'm going through in real life. It's interesting to go through the editing phase and find those little things.

    Thanks so much for the quote, Mrs. Williamson!

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    1. I know what you mean, Linea. I find those life-circumstances things in my stories too. It's interesting how our lives flow into our stories.

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    2. I've noticed similar things in my writing, too! It's crazy how much of my life seeped into my stories completely by accident. Each book really is a part of /me./


      Alexa
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

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  2. Hi! I'm a great fan of Go Teen Writers, and I'm really glad that you posted this up. As a struggling teen writer, I really appreciate the advice. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm still young and have much more to learn before I can even publish anything--basically not to put the horse before the cart.
    So, yes, to answer your question, I do consider this time in my life as a time of self-improvement. Thanks, and don't stop posting! :) You and Stephanie have no idea how much you inspire me!

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    1. I'm so glad, Marianne! You are wise to continually remind yourself to keep learning. You'll never be too old to learn, but with each book you write, you will improve more and more.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this, Mrs. Williamson. I am actually grateful that you asked the second question. I have always been shy to admit that oftentimes I feel I am still too early in the learning stage to commit to the novels that I am dreaming to write (and, God willing, perhaps get published as well!).

    My absolute favourite novel I do not intend to write at least for another year, yet I am dying to write it. People will ask, "How can that be?" My answer: "Because I want to be a better writer before I write it, or else I will not do it justice." So while I am working hard and very much enjoying my writing now--I also see it as a preparation, long training before the Big Test. Before That Novel.

    Thanks again for writing this. This is the first time I have ever openly admitted this that I have said without feeling ashamed. Best wishes to you all, and dancing quills!

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    1. Oh, Hanan! Thank you for your honesty. What you said is nothing to be ashamed of. You should be proud of yourself for practicing patience and discipline. Enjoy this time of learning and growing in your craft. Someday you will know the time has come to write that ONE STORY you've been waiting to write. Keep on respecting your dream!

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    2. Oh, thank you so much, Mrs. Williamson!

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  4. I LOVE this post more than my mere vocabulary can describe. I'm going to put this on my wall so I can read it and be inspired by this every single day :D

    -Deborah

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    1. LOL! I'm glad it has inspired you, Deborah!

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  5. I had never thought of it like that before... I always think of my STORY. How am I going to execute this scene? What scene am I going to do next? How do I want to develop this character? What is going to happen to this character? WHY DIDN'T MY CHARACTER WARN ME THAT THEY WERE GOING TO DO THAT?!?!?!?! What am I going to want to change when the edits come? What history am I going to re-work for this character? What does my map look like? What's this culture like?

    I think you get the idea.

    Also, I think about how I am going to pour myself into this story. I think about how I am going to make my characters realistic when I've never been in the situations they're in. I think about any other number of things that makes a story good.

    I never really thought of myself as being the product of my writing time. I don't think that I exactly /see/ how that works, either.

    So, does someone smarter than me want to explain this to me??? :P

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    1. I think what he means (and I could be wrong) is that, while getting the book published is great and all, the important part is /you/ and how you develop as a result of your writing. How you may change based on the different characters you write and the situations they're in. Also, how you've taken a step to improve at something you love, rather than just spending all your time thinking of the book you're gonna write "someday."
      You can't write a book and /not/ change because of it, and I think that change is what he's talking about.

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    2. Thanks, Alexa. That was really helpful. :)

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    3. I say, Alexa, do you have a blog?

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    4. Wait... Never mind. I see it now. :P

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    5. No problem! Glad I could help. :)

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    6. Thanks for explaining, Alexa! Good job. With life, it's important to try and grow as a person, to learn from the good and bad things that happen to us, and to better ourselves in some way. I always want to continually improve in my writing so that I become better at it.

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    7. Like I said, no problem. :) And thanks, I'm glad I was /able/ to explain, lol. :)


      Alexa
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

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  6. Wow. I have never thought about it this way. But I guess he's right: getting my book published would be awesome, but the important part is /me/, and how I develop as a result of my writing. Thanks for sharing this!


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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    1. You are welcome. Thank you for your comments. ;-)

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  7. What a great quote! Thank you so much for sharing it!

    I think that's kinda how I come to appreciate my past work even if it's never going to see the light of day in something resembling its present form. It might not be brilliant stuff, but it's my stuff, full of who I was when I wrote it, and how I got to be the writer I am now. *coughs awkwardly* Well, this is sounding awfully reflective for someone who's been writing seriously for less than two years, heh heh.

    This also makes me feel better about times when I'm not being very productive on THE BOOK. (Or any book...) My life is not about my book, and besides, time spent growing can only help my writing do the same. I mean, I write teen fiction, and I'm a teenager. The world is full of life for my art to imitate.

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    1. Miri, I love this you said: "My life is not about my book." This is so true! We are all so much more than what we do.

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  8. Wow Jill!

    I almost cried when I read this, and it takes a lot to make me cry.
    I'm almost seventeen and writing my first real book. I've always written things for as long as I can remember, but never actually finished a worth while book. Recently I've been obsessed with finish editing my manuscript, and reading every bit of publishing advice I can get my hands on. But I never thought to think about the effect this had on me personally, or--until I read this--how much I have actually learned in the past seven years.

    Thank you so much! Go Teen Writers is a real blessing to me!

    Ronny.

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    1. You're welcome, Veronica! I think it's important not to base your worth as a human being on your success as a writer. Ever. Not as a teen or as an adult. Who we are and how we treat others matters more than what we do. And if what we do can better us as a person, that's the greatest reward. Though I wouldn't mind a NYT Bestseller... ha ha ha. ;-) But even if I never get one, I'm going to continue writing and growing as a person.

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  9. This post is so inspiring, Jill. It's so easy to get caught up in one book that you think is THE BOOK, but sometimes, that book actually doesn't end up being THE BOOK. And yet, we still improve throughout. I guess it's the learning process that counts, and with enough writing, that learning process will lead to THE BOOK. I'm really tempted to keep on feverishly editing my WIP next month or maybe churn out a new WIP, but instead, I'm taking a break to focus on the craft of writing by doing exercises with smaller pieces of writing that allow me to actually focus on the craft. Hopefully, when I try to work on an actual book, all of that learning will pay off because I'll have focused on my personal growth and not exactly the books themselves.

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    1. Wow, Ana. Good for you! The choice to take a break and learn is really wise and admirable.

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  10. That's such a good quote, and very true. It's encouraging too because, in my case, all my writing time hasn't seemed to produce anything at all except a girl who still wants to write. I'm twenty-two now and still in college. I see all these teens doing NaNoWriMo and churning out published stuff. Sometimes I look at me and don't see much to show in comparison. I feel like I've missed the boat. But all my writing time has still produced a girl who still loves telling stories, and I've learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. This quote is very applicable.

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  11. Awesome quote! I honestly can't bring myself to look at my earliest works, but those books were what got me started. Getting Transform published hasn't really been my focus at any point, but it's what I hope to accomplish when the book is done. It took at least six failures before I finally found THE STORY. Then a year of writing it before I realized that I wanted it to be first person POV. But it's still my main WIP and it's the one I most want to finish, so I still think I've found my story. And now that I think about it, I realize just how much it's changed me. I can honestly say that I have no idea what my life would be like right now if I hadn't done that first NaNoWriMo five years ago.

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