I Wrote a Novel and This Is What I Learned

Courtesy LDS Media Library

I recently finished writing a novel. It was my second attempt at writing one. My first attempt over 20 years ago was a flop because I gave up. I was wrong to give up so easily.

I’ve learned a few things along this road, lessons that go beyond writing, life lessons worth sharing. Here’s five of them.

  1. Don’t give up. If you are engaged in a good cause and you’re growing by your efforts, don’t give up. I got discouraged with my first attempt at writing a novel. I got embarrassed, really. So I gave up. I had written several drafts but on one furiously immature day, I threw in the towel and stopped working on it. I actually discarded all copies of it. That was a big mistake. I should have kept going. I learned from the experience, but I could have learned a lot more if I hadn’t given up. I’ve learned that perseverance is the solution to almost any problem we’ll face in life. 
  2. Accept criticism. If you want to grow, you have to be open to criticism. You have to be willing to take a hard look at yourself and what you’re doing, and then make positive changes, make things better. If you want your life to be better and you want adventure, you have to take risks. Big ones. You have to be willing to expose your true self to others. It can be discouraging to listen to critics—or it can fuel for your passion. You get to choose. Your critics are not always right, but if they are right, do something about it. Lesson? You may feel safe wrapped in a blanket of self-defense, but you won’t go very far in life. 
  3. Believe in yourself. Even if everyone else in the world doesn’t believe in you or your cause, believe in yourself. Even if all you have is a flicker of divine light in your heart, believe in yourself. That light is there for a reason. It won’t go out. You may try to snuff it out, but if it is divine, the flame will burn on. Lesson? If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will? Okay, maybe your mom, but you won’t believe her either. 
  4. Set your fear on fire. If you’re afraid to follow your dream, take a match to your fear and light it on fire—with passion and courage. Fear may protect you in certain instances, but most of the time, it’s just bad advice. Therefore, what? Reduce your fear to ashes and keep going. 
  5. You’ve got mountains to climb. Are you climbing a mountain or resting in a valley—with a remote in one hand and a diet Coke in the other? If you are not climbing a mountain, a really big mountain, your life will likely feel aimless and probably pretty boring. If you are caught up in the dailiness of life and not allowing yourself to have a big goal that you are pursuing daily, I’ll bet you’re feeling lost. What now? Somewhere, there’s a mountain with your name on it. Find it and climb it.
Song of Falling Leaves is book 1 of the Wanderer series, a four-volume set. It’s a story of a 14-year-old girl who, with the help of a pair of falcons, an unbreakable stallion, a small army of rattlesnakes, a cougar, and two coyotes, discovers that she is much more than she ever imagined she could be.
This series is my mountain to climb. I’ve only climbed a quarter of the way. It took me six and a half years to get that far. But I’m looking up and I’m still climbing.
I’ve converted my fear to ashes. I’m listening to what others have to say. I believe in myself and I’m not giving up. 

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