Being A Writer: What I Wish I’d Known by Sue Brown-Moore
Let’s welcome back columnist Sue Brown-Moore as she shares with us about “Being A Writer: What I Wish I’d Known.” Enjoy!
Note from Beth Barany: I’ve been friends with Sue for years and have watched her evolve into a sought-after fiction editor, skilled writing teacher, and now a dedicated writing coach. I’m excited to share how she approaches her work helping fiction writers with you.
Do you ever think about where you’d be now if your younger self knew what your today self does?
I do. All. The. TIME!
And I’ve realized that even if my young self did know where I’d end up, I’d still need to live that path to get here.
I can’t go back in time to help myself figure out my own path faster, so maybe I can help you get on track for yours.
Because being a “writer” can mean a million different things, no matter where you are in your career. Even for established, bestselling authors.
The subtleties of your writing identity matter.
How do I become… [your greatest career wish]?
None of these are simple or straightforward accomplishments, especially not that last one.
No matter which category you fall into—one of those three above or something totally different—your career choices as a fiction writer are vast.
And figuring out what to do next can be intimidating.
All that possibility can give us choice paralysis (so we choose nothing), or it can give us a sense of false urgency (so we make a move before we’re ready).
We need to trust our instincts.
Because positive, forward growth cannot be forced. (Not for us, nor the heroes we pen.)
For a long time, I struggled with what I wanted to do with my life.
As a high school senior, I had no idea the job of “editor” or even “book coach” existed, and even if I’d known, I hadn’t yet matured enough to be able to do those jobs well.
I wasn’t ready to actually deliver my dream job.
My path to running my own business — first as a part-time editor and now as a full-time book coach — happened in micro-stages of experiences and decisions.
I couldn’t have jumped from being a starry-eyed review blogger to confidently storysmithing in live sessions without growing through every micro-stage and making every small decision along the way.
Today, when I first meet someone and tell them what I do, the first question they usually ask is, “How did you get into that?”
And there’s no quick, easy answer (but you can read part of my story below.)
See, I’m not just a romance book editor. I’m not just a book coach for character-driven fiction writers.
How and why I do my job is just as important as what I specialize in.
I don’t just help you write stories readers will remember forever; I do that by empowering you to get in touch with your own inner hero.
Getting here (psychologically and skill-wise) was a long, winding path, and I wouldn’t change a step of it. Because everything I have done has made me who I am. Even the regrettable moments.
And you are not just a [your genre here] fiction writer.
There is something about why you do what you do and how you make it happen that makes you special.
So, whether you are still figuring out your own path or trying to get there faster, here’s my advice for you:
Be patient. Listen. Feel. Follow your gut.
Opportunities are both made and experienced.
Sometimes we have to make our own luck, and that means putting ourselves in the rooms where things are happening. It means investing in ourselves strategically.
And sometimes opportunities pop up when you least expect them.
If you’re busy looking the other way, you could miss out. So we need to be willing to sit back, take a breather, and think about what feels right.
It’s okay to be unsure. It’s okay to try things. It’s okay to not have a plan.
Because the destination you’re barreling toward may not be the one that is right for you. What you want may not be what you need.
What do your instincts say?
Planning is important, but only when it’s toward the right goal and set up in a way that is healthy for you.
If you’re not gut-instinct certain about what that goal is, sit on it. Wait.
Explore the nuances of your creative and business interests and see what pulls at you. Don’t force a path forward.
That’s what I wish I could tell my younger self.
It’s what I wish the adults in my life had told me when I was growing up. Sometimes “success” is doing nothing for a while.
There is an intersection of storytelling and personal development.
When we plan out stories for our heroes, we can fast forward through their lives to take them to that place we know they need to end up.
And we put the right obstacles in their way to help them discover their personal truth.
So here’s my advice for you, wherever you are in your writing journey.
Use your knowledge of the literary hero’s journey to gain insight into yourself.
And give yourself the grace to hesitate, stumble, and fall with patience and understanding.
Below, I’ve left a few writing resources that are also great personal development crossovers. Feel free to check them out, or just let what we talked about today percolate.
Until next week…
Keep writing and learning, and never be afraid to fail forward!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Known for being a tough editor with a soft touch, Sue Brown-Moore coaches fiction authors to craft transformative stories readers will remember forever, using the character-first editing and storystorming techniques she teaches in her online university.
Sue is a former acquiring and freelance developmental editor who has collaborated on stories that have won and been nominated for publishing awards like the Vivian, the Lambda, and the Golden Heart, and she has been featured in Publisher’s Weekly and LA Weekly’s list of 15 Book Coaches to Watch in 2023. Join Sue’s email list to know about all her newest revision tips and upcoming events.