Read as often as you can even though now that you’re writing, you will rip every book to shreds wondering how in the world this person got published after breaking all the “rules” you kill yourself trying to follow. It’s a fact, I haven’t wholly enjoyed a book in years. But, I will say that I do glean inspiration and improvement with most every book I read.

Write because your characters wake you up in the morning, screaming in your head to be released and brought to life on the page. Because a story that started as an intriguing idea or a dream has continued to grow, mushrooming like the cloud of an atomic bomb until it consumed your every thought. Because inspiration comes to you at the most inconvenient times, and you wish there were a way to safely type and drive, type and cook, type and shower, type and just about everything . . .

Submit not because you daydream about seeing your novel featured on the end cap at B&N (only first-time authors with impressive literary connections get those gigs), and definitely not because you have aspirations of becoming Stephenie Meyer, but because you enjoy bringing your story and characters to life and you want others to enjoy them as well. Because completing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. Because you are proud of what you’ve written.

Don’t give up if you really love to write. If your greatest joy comes after crafting a well-written sentence or when a scene comes together in a way you hadn’t intended, becoming more perfect than you’d ever anticipated. If you feel a rush of excitement unlike any other when the words flow from your head to your fingers tips as if they have a life of their own. If baring your very soul on the pages of your manuscript brings a freedom you’d never imagined.

Keep writing because stopping is not an option.

Because you still have stories to tell.

Because even if you never make a dime off your work, the journey was well worth the effort.

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