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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Ever since I was four and I wrote my first short story called, The Triangle Shaped Monster, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote countless short stories that all had a learned lesson at the end. That quickly escalated to my first novel in fifth grade, and then to the 9-10 other novels that I have written today. Through all of them, I enjoyed having a fictional outlet to escape to and to help others escape to. To me, fiction and stories are the best way to convey societal and world issues and to persuade change in people. I want to make the world a better place through my writing. That’s the overarching piece of advice I want to give before I start, is that you shouldn’t be a writer if you don’t love it. It’s okay to not love it every second of the day or to hate the revision process more than you hate your phone dying at the exact wrong time. With that being said, if your motivation to write a book or an essay or an article is purely financial or fame-driven, you may want to look into careers that provide you more long-term happiness. If you know you’re a writer though, here’s my advice for you:

1. know if you’re a tour guide or a tourist

What I mean by this is there are usually two different types of writers. There’s the writer that has to outline their novel scene-by-scene; they need to know exactly what happens. This is the tour guide. Then there’s the writer who hates plans and likes to write as they go; they enjoy not knowing what’s going to happen. I’m the latter, I’m a tourist. I’ve tried outlines, and my writing always ends up taking me someplace else. Neither the tour guide or tourist is better than the other. What’s important is that you know which one you are so that you use it to your advantage and be aware of what you need to do based on your strengths to pull out the best first draft you possibly can.

2. Be respectful of how you portray characters who are based on or are real people from your real life

In my writing classes, we’ve talked a lot about this. Relationships are such a big part of what we write about, and they are one of the means by which we find out who we are. They make great material. It’s rare a writer won’t put aspects of people they know in their characters. I’ve never written a character identical to someone in my life, but I’ve definitely put parts of my family, friends, and exes into my novels. I’m not going to lie. It makes me nervous because even though they have different names, I know that people in my life will read it and know I based it off them. It feels unfair that, me being the writer of my family, my side of the story is always what the world will hear. I try to tell my side while also being respectful. That’s my best advice. If you’re reading based off a person just to get at them or for revenge, then don’t do it. If you’re writing about them because they helped you change and they were a big part of your own character development, then please don’t hesitate to put that to paper. Everyone needs to hear that. As long as you do it with class, it’s awesome to do. Quality writing comes from experience because it’s hard to write something you haven’t felt or done. It’s truer that way anyway and a lot more readers are likely to relate to you if you write your truth.

3. With the first draft, don’t think or look back

If I didn’t listen to this advice, I never would’ve finished my first novel. Most writers I know are perfectionists like me, so if you go back, you’ll be tempted to start revising before you even have the draft done. It’ll waste your time and help you procrastinate from ever finishing. What I do is I cover up the page number and word count as well and I eliminate distractions, and no matter what, I don’t let myself go back to a previous line. Not until the first draft is at least done. It allows me to get my first draft done in effective time. Revising usually takes me a while, but at least I have a whole book to revise. This same thing can go for any kind of writing project that seems daunting. Simply finishing one draft is definitely worth a big celebration.

4. Bounce back from rejection

This one kind of feels weird for me to write, because I still haven’t gotten an offer from an agent to publish my book. All I really have to show for are rejections. I feel like it’s easier to give this advice if you know it ended up working. The fact is I’m continuing to submit and I’m telling you to do the same even though I have no proof it works. True writers can’t give up. Trust me, I’ve tried and I didn’t last a day. I even got so mad once I threw my whole manuscript away. But I went back because I’m in love with the process. I’m content that if my books never get published it won’t be the end of the world. Note that contentment is a temporary, non-permanent feeling that comes in waves. I’ve gotten so many rejections and I’ve even gotten close to being accepted, but it didn’t work out. All I can do is keep trying, and I’m technically not losing anything because I’ll always have writing. A couple of my novels were offered publication, but it’s only a beginning excerpt of both of them. It’s still something though. I feel like I’m getting closer. What I’ve found is that patience is awesome, just like you have to be patient before finding love. In fact, I just got another rejection this morning. I once got a rejection from an agent one minute after I sent the query. I’m not kidding, it was one minute. Keep going. I’ve gotten compliments along with the rejections, and little things like that are just enough to give me fuel.

5. Write what’s important to you, not what the market is telling you to write

This advice is crucial, and I’ve put it last so you remember it. All of my books don’t really fit the market very well. Part of me is worried that’s why they keep getting rejected. It’s okay though. Don’t go to the market. Make it come to you. One day it’ll be ready for your amazing stories. You want to write what you care about. I’m an eating disorder advocate so I have a few novels about eating disorders. I write about mental health. I challenge society in my books. Something smaller I wrote about was young love, but it had meaning to me and has meaning to everyone going through what I went through. I think meaning is the most important part of writing. Writing is using your voice to get people to care about what you care about. Please use your voice. It doesn’t matter how many agents reject you. They’re going to regret it someday.

I’m not a published novelist yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a successful novelist. I hope you take this advice with you. It’s my own advice to myself that I’ve shared with you all. I’m still learning myself. All in all, write the truth, write because you want to write, be respectful, know your writing identity, and instead of counting another rejection as a loss, think of it as one more person that is going to regret not saying yes to you.

Sydney Savage is a graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in psychology and a BA English (with a creative writing concentration). Part of her novel called "I Love You More Than Me" is published at Red Cedar Review, and an excerpt of her other novel, “Just Let Me Go” is published at Outrageous Fortune magazine. She will be getting her Masters in Social Work at the University of Michigan and volunteering for CAPS. She plans to work with adolescents and eating disorder populations. Along with this, she'll be continuing her passion for novel writing and pursuing her dream of publication. She hopes to bring more mental health and body image themes into the book publishing market. She is a current member of Michigan Romance Writers. You can read some of her works on her personal blog and website: https://sydsavage13.wixsite.com/sydwriter13 Her twitter is @realsydsavage13 and her writing insta is @sydwriter13