The Best Advice
From Lisa Mangum, Editor of One Horn to Rule them All and A Game of Horns, and Editor at Shadow Mountain
As both an author and an editor, I have been on both sides of the writing desk. So what is the best advice I’ve been given about writing?
My first piece of advice comes from my friend Rick Walton, who tells this to his students who aspire to be writers:
- “Quit. But if you can’t—do the work.”
Writing is hard. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time, but it is hard. So, before you get too far down that road of “being a writer,” you should think seriously about just quitting. Because if your heart isn’t in it, then there’s nothing wrong with not being a writer and being something else—with following your true passion.
But if there is something inside of you that won’t let you quit, that says, “No! I am a writer; I do have a story to tell,” then your only choice is to do the work.
Which leads me to my second piece of advice.
- “Dream bigger.”
I was once on a panel at SLC Comic-Con about Disneyland and one of the other panelists said that what she wished she’d known earlier in her career was that it was okay to dream bigger.
I love that! I think we as writers work hard to figure out what works for us and how to write a story and how to get published. And then we think, “Whew, I made it.” Well . . . maybe we need to dream bigger. If there is always a bigger dream out there beckoning to us, we’ll never stop reaching for it. And if we never stop reaching, we’ll simply get better and better until we reach that new dream.
So whatever it is you’re dreaming about—dream bigger.
- “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. Don’t stop.”
I saw this years ago written on a wall in the Innovations building at Disneyland, and I instantly resonated to it. Writing is a process; don’t hurry. Take time to learn your craft. Take time to enjoy the journey. Publishing is a process. Take time to learn the business. But don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. Don’t worry if you make mistakes, or if other people don’t understand your vision. Just—don’t stop.
I believe that there is a story inside each of us that only we can tell. Each of us has a valuable and unique voice. Don’t be afraid to use your voice. Don’t be afraid to tell your story.
So dream bigger. Do the work, and don’t hurry, don’t worry, and don’t quit.